brands under fire

Adidas Sparks Uproar With Shackled "Slavery Shoe" [Updated]

Posted by Shirley Brady on June 18, 2012 05:26 PM

adidas is under fire after posting a picture of its upcoming JS Roundhouse Mids on the adidas Originals Facebook page. JS is short for Jeremy Scott, the provocative designer who has had a longstanding association with adidas Originals, while the shoe is part of his upcoming Fall/Winter collection for the brand, which is slated for release in August.

Unlike the uproar over Nike's Black and Tan shoe back in March, it's not the colors or name that's offending, but the rubber shackles attached to them that remind some observers (such as the Rev. Jesse Jackson) of the ankle chains that imprisoned African American slaves. That the "adidas" name is also part of the "shackles" is raising hackles (and heckles).

Even so, the brand defended the design and the designer.

"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," a spokesperson for the brand commented about the Facebook photo, which has been removed. "Jeremy Scott is renowned as a designer whose style is quirky and lighthearted ... Any suggestion that this is linked to slavery is untruthful."

Scott, meanwhile, has deflected criticism of the so-called "slavery sneaker" on Twitter. Update: The designer later tweeted a link to a picture of "My Pet Monster," a plush toy wearing "magic cuffs" released by American Greetings in 1986 that spawned a one-season ABC cartoon series, as the inspiration for the shoe.

Nevertheless, despite initially defending the designer, adidas is pulling the shoe, stating: "We apologize if people are offended by the design and we are withdrawing our plans to make them available in the marketplace."

See Scott's Fall/Winter 2012 adidas Originals collection that included the shoe (along with a close-up) below, and let us know what you think in the comments.

[Images via]


scallywag United States says:

Slavery? Swastika? Are we not taking the line of thought a bit too far? Why not the symbol of Jesus who might annoy atheists? Or whatever else it is that is perceived distasteful? Then again isn’t one's sense of fashion a personal involvement?

Are we to now grab people off the street and beat them up viciously if they choose to dress in a way that offends us? That I imagine would also go to manufacturers. Nothing after all is more effective than telling the manufacturer that their product is non gratis than us staying away in droves. But will you?

June 18, 2012 06:41 PM #

Shirley Brady - brandchannel United States says:

See Scott's explanation for the shoe's inspiration, now added to the post.

June 18, 2012 07:07 PM #

Fur Real? United Kingdom says:

Even if I were a slave to fashion (sorry, bad joke) I wouldn't wear these shoes. Without the ankle shackles they're not half bad, but with them you'd just look like the bloody idiot you'd be for buying them!

June 18, 2012 11:00 PM #

Nya T. United States says:

Grossly insensitive? Maybe.

Dumb and ugly? Definitely.

June 18, 2012 11:58 PM #

writer dave Switzerland says:

Wow. Just wow. This kafuffle is truly the juncture where the ignorant meet the tasteless.

June 19, 2012 08:49 AM #

Nik United States says:

Really people?!  Slavery was centuries ago haven't we gotten over it yet?  The current trend (as us fashion forward and trendy people know) is chains and cuffs.  Thats what is being displayed here obviously.  I think people need to stop looking for something to complain about and leave the people who clearly aren't racist alone and start worrying about real lifes troubles of today.  If I worried about what happened even 10 years ago I wouldn't be able to function everyday.  I personally wouldn't wear them... but just because people cause a stir I might just have to purchase a pair.

June 19, 2012 01:12 PM #

Evale United States says:


No we haven't forgotten because the legacy of slavery still affects Black people today.  Obviously, you're not Black.  I agree that the controversy over the shoe may be unwarranted but dismissing slavery and it's lasting implications shows how clueless you are.

June 19, 2012 04:31 PM #

Dan T. United States says:

Two words: market research. Adidas should have anticipated this backlash and canned the product. Releasing the shoes seems to show that the company simply did not put enough stock into focus groups and research to gauge public reaction.

June 25, 2012 08:48 AM #

Comments are closed

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