The shoes, which feature orange plastic shackles, hit the company’s Facebook page with the accompanying caption: “Got a sneaker game so hot you lock your kicks to your ankles?”
The posting quickly picked up comments from fans, but also detractors who called the sneakers — officially known as JS Roundhouse Mids — everything from ugly to offensive.
“I literally froze up when I saw a new design from Adidas set to hit stores in August,” Dr. Boyce Watkins said in a post for the website Your Black World.
“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,” civil rights activist Reverend Jesse Jackson said, in a statement on CNN on Monday, before Adidas’ decision to withdraw them from the marketplace.
Adidas issued a statement saying, “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 with slavery.” They added, “We apologize if people are offended by the design and we are withdrawing our plans to make them available in the marketplace.”
Our collaboration with Jeremy Scott has always stood for creativity and originality. 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. 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. 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.
Dr Boyce Watkins accused the US educational system for diminishing the emphasis on slavery in modern history books — “all so you’d be willing to put shackles on your ankles today and not be so sensitive about it.”
The Syracuse University Professor said he accepted that some people would accuse him of overreacting.
But he added: “There is always a group of Negroes who are more than happy to resubmit themselves to slavery.”
Adidas aren’t the only shoe company to to come under fire for causing offence. Nike had to apologise for unofficial name of their ‘Black and Tan’ trainers early this year.