Facing scrutiny on social media, Atmos has issued a public apology.
Late yesterday, the boutique issued a statement from its founder, Hommyo Hidefumi, and its team stating it has “failed the Atmos NYC and Harlem community” and that it is “dedicated to righting the wrongs of the past.” The statement comes after weeks of scrutiny for several allegations from former employees including unequal pay for its Black and Hispanic employees.
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“After listening and learning from our employees and your feedback, it has become clear to us that we owe our community an apology,” the statement read. “Atmos Harlem owes its success to the support of the Black community. We believe Black Lives Matter. We acknowledge that Black and brown people have suffered inequality in the U.S. for generations. We play a part and have a responsibility to support BIPOC people and be actively anti-racist in the way we operate our business.”
It continued, “The experiences described by employees and customers are not what I hoped to create when bringing Atmos to the U.S. 10 years ago. It was wrong of me to not operate a store in NYC with the same care and attention I do with managing my stores in Tokyo, and not taking the time to understand the cultural differences. I acknowledge that the store team has suffered as a result. We are in conversations with past employees to start the journey of repairing those relationships and healing the past. I learned a lot in the past few weeks. You have helped open my eyes to the realities of the racial inequality as they relate to COVID, streetwear, Harlem and the U.S. as a whole — and how Atmos has failed the black community. We did not create a safe, fair and amicable environment in the neighborhood we opened our store.”
A message from Hommyo & the atmos team. We are sorry for the ways we have failed the #atmosnyc & Harlem community. We are dedicated to righting the wrongs of the past, starting with a new management team and an action-oriented plan on how we will change. More details tomorrow. Thank you for your support.
A post shared by atmos New York (@atmosnyc) on Jul 7, 2020 at 2:01pm PDT
In a second Instagram statement, Atmos announced that its Harlem door is under new management and asked people to provide feedback via email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Included in the changes is a new manager, the opportunity for former employees to return with equal and fair pay, a BIPOC-led human resources department and the promise to hire people from Harlem.
Also, the retailer announced a $10,000 donation to The Brotherhood/Sister Sol, which Atmos said is the first of its ongoing efforts to give back to the Harlem community.
A post shared by atmos New York (@atmosnyc) on Jul 8, 2020 at 5:05pm PDT
Despite the announcement, one of Atmos’ most vocal detractors, sneaker influencer Damaries “kickitwitdd” Negron, is not satisfied.
“@Atmosnyc just because you hired @sangnyc as the head of HR for the company does not give you guys a free pass! What you guys did was still wrong!” she wrote in an Instagram post today.
A post shared by Damaries Negron 🇵🇷 (@kickitwitdd) on Jul 9, 2020 at 5:27am PDT
Negron, an admitted former Atmos employee, first called the retailer out on June 22 via Instagram. “To hear that they underpaid their Hispanic and African American workers, backdoor all their sneakers to overseas and charged hire than normal price, give more money to their workers in their overseas stores, and fired all their minority employees so that all the employees from overseas can take over and work at the store in Harlem,” she wrote. “How are you going to fire all the minority workers in Harlem when there’s mainly minorities that shop in Harlem? This is a disgrace to the community.”
I am extremely disappointed with atmosnyc. Atmos was the first sneaker store I ever worked for. To hear that they underpaid their Hispanic and African American workers, backdoor all their sneakers to overseas and charged hire than normal price, give more money to their workers in their overseas stores, and fired all their minority employees so that all the employees from overseas can take over and work at the store in Harlem. How are you going to fire all the minority workers in Harlem when there’s mainly minorities that shop in Harlem? This is a disgrace to the community. I will not support brands who take advantage of their Hispanic and African American workers. IDC who you are and I do not care how big your brand is. If you are doing something wrong I will call you out. They as well do not want to do collabs with any Hispanic or African American. THIS IS A SLAP IN THE FACE FOR THE SNEAKER COMMUNITY AND I WILL NOT KEEP MY MOUTH SHUT ABOUT THIS. I HAD FRIENDS WHO WERE AFRICAN AMERICANS AND HISPANICS WHO WORKED AT ATMOS AND WERE RACIALLY PROFILED AND WERE UNDERPAID. THIS IS NOT RIGHT. atmosnyc YOU ARE OFFICIALLY CANCELED!
A post shared by Damaries Negron 🇵🇷 (@kickitwitdd) on Jun 22, 2020 at 5:23am PDT
Atmos also responded in its statement to allegations on social media that it has sold its sneakers on third-party platforms at a premium. “We commit to handling our products with fairness,” the retailer wrote on Instagram. “We will demonstrate transparency and integrity for raffles and releases of new products.”