Sports clothing manufacturer Adidas has decided to cancel the release of sneakers designed with rubber chain and ankle cuffs after criticism that they resemble a symbol of slavery.
The JS Roundhouse Mid, a high-top shoe equipped with an orange plastic cuff that sits just above the ankle, was designed in collaboration with fashion designer Jeremy Scott.
Though Scott, known for his "quirky and light-hearted" creations, says the shoe was inspired by a cartoon, it was met with mixed feelings on Facebook. Adidas debuted the sneakers on its Adidas Originals Facebook page ahead of its market release in August. Along with evoking memories of slavery, many users debated whether the design was racist or not.
Some comments included:
Martina Marty: If your parents had been shackelled then maybe you would feel differently. This is a sore spot...and the marketing team who "approved" this design should be sent to diversity classes.
Jessica Bright: Slavery... for real? So... rid of hand-cuffs that police use too...cuz it can relate to slavery? When I saw these, I was thinking cops, jail....cuffs.....not slavery....
Kirshan Raveendra: It’s offensive and inappropriate in many ways. Not to mention ugly.
Kris Choquette: At least you won't lose your shoes!!! :)
Sandie Borsch: Running out of ideas Scott - this is not an elegant design. Really disappointed.
Danielle Carter: I like em.... sorry
According to Times Live, leading American civil rights activist Reverend Jesse Jackson led criticism of the sneakers, saying: "The attempt to commercialise and make popular more than 200 years of human degradation, where blacks were considered three-fifths human by our constitution is offensive, appalling and insensitive."
In a statement Adidas explained the shoe "is nothing more than the designer Jeremy Scott's outrageous and unique take on fashion and has nothing to do with slavery". However, it has since decided to halt the sale of the product to the market.
Scott said in a statement: "My work has always been inspired by cartoons, toys – my childhood." The design was based on a cartoon character and toy from the 1990s called My Pet Monster, which is purple and blue and is restrained by orange shackles. His previous collabs with Adidas have included shoes with Mickey Mouse and pandas themes.
Guardian journalist Lola Adesioye feels there was no doubt that Scott was making a statement about enslavement of human beings. The shoes also carry a deep social statement about the enslaving nature of consumerism, she said.
What are your thoughts on these sneakers? Racist or social commentary?