Nike Postpones Next Travis Scott Drop as Houston Officials Decline 3rd Party Investigation Into Astroworld Tragedy

A street sign showing the cancellation of the AstroWorld Festival at NRG Park on November 6, 2021, in Houston, Texas.

Loyal fans of the Travis Scott brand will have to wait for his next drop with Nike; perhaps indefinitely. The athleticwear juggernaut has pumped the brakes on its collaboration with the rapper following the November 5 mass casualty event at his 2021 Astroworld festival at NRG Park in Houston, which injured hundreds of attendees and claimed ten lives, the youngest of which was 9-year-old Ezra Blount, who succumbed to his injuries on Saturday.

After much speculation about the future of Scott’s lucrative partnerships—which, as reported by The Root last week, include a planned menswear takeover at Dior for Spring/Summer 2022—Nike made the announcement it would be postponing the release of the highly anticipated Air Max 1 x Cactus Jack. The sneaker was initially scheduled to drop on December 16.

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“Out of respect for everyone impacted by the tragic events at the Astroworld Festival, we are postponing the launch of the Air Max 1 x Cactus Jack,” read a statement on the company’s SNKRS website. No further details or release dates were given, and Nike has given no further comment to media outlets. Similarly, while Dior has yet to release an official statement on whether its collaboration with Scott, due to debut in February, will be moving forward.

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In the past, big-league brands like Nike, Dior and McDonald’s have trumpeted their ties to Scott and their collaborative designs. Executives at those three companies did not respond to multiple requests for comment this week. A spokesperson at Parsons School of Design, which has a partnership with Scott’s foundation to provide design education to underserved communities, acknowledged media requests but declined comment.

Although a Parsons spokesperson acknowledged two of several media requests, he declined to provide any comment regarding the status of the partnership with Scott. Executives at Nike did not respond to requests for comment. Executives at Dior acknowledged one of multiple media requests but they did not provide any response.

But if the future of Scott’s collaborations remains in question, more important is determining the circumstances that led to the Astroworld tragedy. Despite local urgings for an independent investigation, the Associated Press reports they “went unheeded Monday, as Houston-area officials instead chose to direct a county administrator to conduct a review with other governmental entities.”

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County Judge Lina Hidalgo — the top elected official in Harris County, which includes Houston — had proposed a third-party probe of the planning and execution of the festival founded and headlined by rap superstar Travis Scott.

The Harris County administrator instead will work with other city and county entities to review security, fire and other safety plans at the county-owned NRG Park, where the festival was held…

Houston police are conducting a separate criminal investigation into what happened at the festival. No one has been charged.

The police department, along with the city fire department, played key roles in crowd control and other safety measures at the show. Experts in crowd safety say an investigation by neutral outsiders into the tragedy could help avoid potential conflicts of interest and promote transparency.

What investigations into what Scott’s attorney Edwin F. McPherson called “a systemic breakdown” (h/t Good Morning America) reveal could determine the future course of Scott’s business deals, as Mark McKenna, co-director of the Ziffren Institute UCLA School of Law told WWD.

“There a lot of different possibilities,” he said. “One version could be that this was a big failing by the venue. And he happened to be the artist who was performing and there’s not much that he could have done about it. In that case, it’s a horrible set of circumstances and a tragedy that it happened. But it would be surprising if all of those endorsers walked away from him, if it seemed like it didn’t really have to do with him.”

Scott’s new—and surprising—spokesperson, former Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, not only maintains that the rapper isn’t culpable but told Gayle King last week it was “ludicrous” to think Scott had the power to control what was happening in the Astroworld audience. In fact, she says, despite the fact that Scott made an onstage call for medics to assist an audience member who’d collapsed, he only learned of the breadth of the chaos and resulting tragedy while attending Drake’s afterparty at a local Dave & Buster’s. (WWD notes D&B had no comment on the issue.)

“It was hours and hours after the concert when they actually found out the tragedy, how the tragedy unfolded,” said Rawlings-Blake on CBS Mornings Friday (h/t Complex).

“This notion that Travis had the ability to stop the concert is ludicrous,” she also stated. “[The event producers] have a 59-page operations plan, and it clearly says the only two people that have the authority to stop the concert were the executive producer and the concert producer. He was not responsible for this, but he wants to be responsible for the solution.”

Rawlings-Blake’s objections were ostensibly in response to remarks made last week by Houston Fire Department Chief Samuel Peña on Today, according to Complex.

Samuel Peña, who previously addressed the Astroworld deaths during a press conference over the weekend, was asked whether he believed Scott “should have called an end to the concert” once he noticed what was going on.

“Look, absolutely,” he responded. “We all have a responsibility. Everybody at that event has a responsibility starting from the artist on down.”

Peña continued, “The artist has command of that crowd. In my opinion, and this is my opinion right now because everything is gonna be fleshed out throughout this investigation, but certainly the artist—if he notices something that’s going on—he can certainly pause that performance, turn on the lights, and say ‘Hey, we’re not gonna continue until this thing is resolved.’”

While the potential loss of Scott’s business deals is insignificant in comparison to the loss of life on November 5, the two issues are inextricably linked, notes McKenna to WWD.

“If it comes out that the events that unfolded had a lot to do with the condition of people that were there, and it becomes clear that that is a common feature of his concerts, that might make people more nervous about working with him,” he said. “The difference in the level of involvement could matter a lot to figuring out who bears responsibilities for what happened.”

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