A limited-edition shoe to be produced by Adidas won’t see the light of day, according to reports, after protests that its design suggested racism.
The “shackle” shoe—formally known as JS Roundhouse Mids—featured a plastic cuff to be worn around the ankle, attached to the shoe by a plastic chain. Adidas posted an image of the shoe to its Facebook page on June 14. “Got a sneaker game so hot you lock your kicks to your ankles?” Adidas asked.
But some Facebook commenters didn’t find the gimmick clever, and argued that the shackles were suggestive of slavery. There followed an intense debate on Facebook that stirred up media attention—enough that Adidas came to the shoes’ defense. “The design of the JS Roundhouse Mid is nothing more than the designer Jeremy Scott’s outrageous and unique take on fashion and has nothing to do with slavery,” the company said in a statement released to the New York Daily News. “Jeremy Scott is renowned as a designer whose style is quirky and lighthearted and his previous shoe designs for adidas Originals have, for example, included panda heads and Mickey Mouse. Any suggestion that this is linked to slavery is untruthful.”
The Reverend Jesse Jackson even weighed in, saying in a statement that “The attempt to commercialize 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. Removing the chains from our ankles and placing them on our shoes is no progress.”
Despite its initial defense of the shoes, Adidas announced today that it would be “withdrawing [its] plans to make them available in the marketplace.”
The JS Roundhouse Mids were supposed to be available in August, with a $350 pricetag.