Adidas was criticized for shackles on their sneakers, which have caused controversy and accusations of racism and bigotry because of their unusual design. The new JS Roundhouse Mids come with plastic handcuff-style shackles that can "lock" the shoe to the wearer's ankle.
Adidas' was criticized because of the shackles sneakers, which were the idea of designer Jeremy Scott. So far, the shoes have been attacked roundly by critics, who claim that the $350 sneaker brings with it the connotation of slavery and other parts of human history in which people were abused.
"I literally froze up when I saw a new design from Adidas set to hit stores in August," Dr. Boyce Watkins, a Syracuse University professor, wrote in a post on the Your Black World blog. "JS Roundhouse Mids, are purple and gray, with HANDCUFFS that wrap around the ankles. Yes, I said handcuffs … shackles … the stuff that our ancestors wore for 400 years while experiencing the most horrific atrocities imaginable."
Watkins also said that the shoes promote the "prison industrial complex," and many others have echoed his sentiments- Adidas' Facebook page has nearly 2,300 comments at the time of this article, and most of them are negative.
The bright yellow plastic shackles on the basketball shoes certainly couldn't be construed as authentic, and Adidas is adamant that they were simply given the shackles simply to look cool. "Got a sneaker game so hot you lock your kicks to your ankles?" their tagline for the JS Roundhouse Mids read.
"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," an Adidas statement published by the New York Daily News read. "Jeremy Scott is renowned as a designer whose style is quirky and lighterhearted … Any suggestion that this is linked to slavery is untruthful."
Some have come out defending the sneakers as well, saying that African-Americans in particular are being too sensitive.
"Hey black people, get over yourselves, that is all," wrote marcoolman on the Syracuse.com blog.
"Blacks were NOT the only people to be enslaved! Everything is not about you black folks!" agreed Radster.
Still, the deluge of negativity surrounding Adidas' newest shoe could affect its sales when it is released.
"These should be taken off the market. They are sending the wrong message, that shackles are cool, and a concept to be taken lightly," wrote Natalie Lee on the JS Roundhouse Mids Facebook page. Ultimately though, the determining factor will not be sentiment, but consumerism.
"Let the free market determine the fate of these shoes. If enough people don't like them, they won't buy them and the company will lose lots of money," theorized Steve Elmore.