Adidas apologizes, pulls ‘shackles’ shoes deemed racist

The sneakers, which feature bright orange shackles, were slammed on Facebook for their connection slavery. At first, the company defended the shoe, but shortly after issuing its first statement, Adidas backtracked.


This story has been updated.

You know you’re in for a long day when you have to make this statement to the media: “Any suggestion that this is linked to slavery is untruthful.”

That is part of the statement Adidas sent to media outlets on Monday after reports surfaced that its JS Roundhouse Mid sneakers are racist.

The shoes feature a pair of bright orange shackles.

Although they were unveiled in January, nothing controversial came of the shoes until Adidas posted a picture of them to its Facebook page. That’s when the tidal wave of criticism struck.

“I am a big Adidas fan, but these shoes are just wrong on so many levels and if you put them out for sale in August, I will be finding another brand to wear,” said one commenter (among the kinder opponents of the shoe).

Still, others defended the sneaker, suggesting people were overreacting, which sparked a counter-response: “Ever notice how white people like to tell black people to get over slavery? if your white (great) grandma, grandma were raped repeatedly, do you think that would impact their offspring?”

Never a good thing when your product sparks this sort of reaction.

First, Adidas weighed in with this comment (to Fox News):

“The JS Roundhouse Mid is part of the Fall/Winter 2012 design collaboration between Adidas Originals and Jeremy Scott. 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.

“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.”

Notice the company stopped short of apologizing; it didn’t even issue one of those “we’re sorry if someone was offended” non-apologies.

Shortly after issuing that statement, Adidas chimed in again, saying it won’t release the controversial sneakers in August and, in fact, issuing the “we’re sorry if you’re offended” apology. To wit (via New York Daily News):

“Since the shoe debuted on our Facebook page ahead of its market release in August, adidas has received both favorable and critical feedback. We apologize if people are offended by the design and we are withdrawing our plans to make them available in the marketplace.”

The shoe’s designer told the Associated Press that the shackles design was inspired by My Pet Monster, a stuffed children’s toy from the 1980s.

Adidas isn’t the only shoe company to offend with a pair of its sneakers. This spring, Nike unveiled a shoe called the “Black and Tan,” which is the name of a paramilitary group that terrorized Ireland after World War I. Nike apologized.

(Image via)

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