Adidas: Sorry For Making A Shackled Sneaker That Brings Slavery To Mind

At first glance, Adidas’ new purple, gray and white sneakers with a bright orange plastic leg shackle might prompt thoughts of “Shew, boy! That is one ugly shoe,” or “Who would want to wear that?” However, once the stronger reactions of “It’s reminiscent of slavery” started rolling into a controversy ball on Twitter, including a call for a boycott, Adidas has announced it’s pulling the shoe.

The shoes, designed by what the L.A. Times calls “eccentric” Beverly Hills designer Jeremy Scott, generated a storm on Twitter where it was labeled “Adidas slave shackle kicks.” Another common criticism is that it could be seen as glamorizing prison.

Adidas at first defended the shoes as just a wacky design from a unique designer. But last night it apologized and said it had made a mistake.

Adidas’ statement reads, in part:

“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.”

The L.A. Times notes that on Twitter, designer Scott mentions possible inspiration for his shoe comes from a 1990s cartoon and toy, My Pet Monster.

An earlier Facebook post with the shoes on Adidas’ page had asked, “Got a sneaker game so hot you lock your kicks to your ankles?”

This isn’t the first time consumers have reacted to poor taste from big shoe designers. Near St. Patrick’s Day, many Irish were upset over Nike’s so-called “Black and Tan” sneakers, ostensibly named for a drink but also sharing a moniker with a violent paramilitary group responsible for slaughtering innocents in the Irish War of Independence.

After slavery controversy, Adidas pulls shackle shoe [Los Angeles Times]


Edit Your Comment

  1. Nobby says:

    Those would look nice with shorts.

    • bluline says:

      Did anyone manage to by these before they were removed? If so, they might have a very valuable pair of shoes on their hands now.

      • Kestris says:

        They were scheduled for release this fall, Sept I believe. So, no, they weren’t even available as anything more than a prototype/photo.

  2. TuxMan says:

    Not a bad idea if you live in the hood. Can’t get sneaker jacked.

  3. Extended-Warranty says:

    Glamorizing prison is all the rage these days. College ain’t give you no street creds.

  4. Doubting thomas says:

    While I think they are ugly, the reaction to Them is just so much handwringing. they don’t connect the ankles, and I have never seen plastic, or day-glo orange slave shackles. If you find them offensive don’t wear them and don’t stare at the ankles of those who do.

    • wade says:

      If you find them offensive don’t wear them and don’t stare at the ankles of those who do.

      Welcome to America, the land of the butthurt. That’s not how we do things around here.

    • Charmander says:

      They’re more reminiscent of jail, than anything else.

  5. Thousand says:

    you ain’t cool unless you’re in shackles

  6. speaky2k says:

    When I first saw them a few days ago I thought they looked dumb, then I remembered My Pet Monster and though “OH, that’s what they are supposed to be.”
    I would never wear them, but when I saw them I didn’t think slavery, I though: Just another dumb design.

  7. Dave B. says:

    I wasn’t aware that slaves wore Adidas…

    Seriously? I think there are too many people that spend every waking moment looking for things to be offended by.

    To Adidas; no apology necessary.

    • Maltboy wanders aimlessly through the Uncanny Valley says:

      When the only tool in your shed is a hammer, everything looks like a nail.

      • SavijMuhdrox says:

        Wonder twin powers activate..

        Shape of… A Commendable Post!

        Form of.. A Witty Add-on!

        +1 gentlemen.

    • Duke_Newcombe-Making children and adults as fat as pigs says:

      To Adidas; no apology necessary.

      Except to good taste and fashion sense, maybe?

  8. Loias supports harsher punishments against corporations says:

    I think about movies that portray bizarre future fashion trends (Think Hunger Games, Zoolander, or any 80s-90s movie that portrays the future) whenever I see odd fashion ideas like this. I normally dislike those outlier comments from overly-sensitive and alarmist individuals who see racism, slavery, etc. in everything in the world.

    But in the world of fashion I often see items like this, which while they do not offend me they are also not the fashion trends I want to see coming into this world. In those cases I actually appreciate the hesitation to allow fringe fashions from developing, though I’m still not a fan of the reason they get upset in this case.

  9. CharlesFarley says:

    Shackles that travel with you…..hmmmmmmmmmm

    Kind of defeats the purpose of shackles of the type slaves wore. Nothing to see here….move along.

  10. Coleoptera Girl says:

    Haha… See, my first thought was “Oh, a slave to fashion! Clever. Ugly shoes, though.”

  11. some.nerd says:

    Umm… hate to nit-pick, but My Pet Monster was like, a 1987 cartoon. JEEZ WHERE ARE YOUR FACT-CHEKCERS CONSUMERIST?! THIS IS IMPORTANT DATAS

    • Fubish says: I don't know anything about it, but it seems to me... says:

      The FACT-CHEKCERS are in the same place as your SPELLING-CHEKCERS

  12. CrazyEyed says:

    I pictured jailhouse shackles. Leave it up to Jesse to toss in slavery references and take offense.

  13. crispyduck13 says:

    Adidas should apologize for releasing such stupid looking eyesores on the public, not for them having anything to do with slavery.

  14. lovemypets00 - You'll need to forgive me, my social filter has cracked. says:

    Ugh, what an UGLY pair of shoes! I can’t believe anyone would want to wear these things. Also, I wonder how many containers full have already been shipped from overseas.

  15. CrazyEyed says:

    Would it be crazy to think that this would actually catch on and be successful? We all know how quick people jump on fads to be “cool.” Wouldn’t even suprise me to see those who embrace the thug culture or brag about doing time wear these.

    As poor a design it may be, still didn’t stop the makers of shakeweight, sleeved blankets (Snuggy), Pogs, Silly Bands, Snap Bracelets, and others. The list can go on.

  16. gafpromise says:

    When I saw them, I didn’t jump to slavery, but I did see prison outfit with all the orange.

  17. jbandsma says:

    Just getting the kids used to what their adult lives will be like.

  18. sparc says:

    i don’t see the slavery angle… maybe prison at best. They’re too ridiculous looking for me to picture this being related to slavery.

    • LMA says:

      You “don’t see the slavery angle” ????? Do you work for Adidas? What could possibly evoke slavery *more* than shackles? Are you kidding?

  19. Agent Hooter Enjoys Enhanced Patdowns says:

    These fall into the category of ‘so-ugly-I-find-them-attractive’. If they weren’t outrageously priced, I’d totally buy and rock a pair.

  20. sparc says:

    the bigger problem for Adidas… that people actually saw pictures of this hideous shoe. Would you buy from someone making shoes like this?

  21. Miss Ayami says:

    People are too sensitive. If you look at women’s shoes there are tons of pumps and sandles with chain straps and accents. These are ugly sneakers but they aren’t meant to be offensive. They are just trying to be creative.

  22. Schildkrote says:

    I’m going to be glad when the “controvery ball on Twitter” trend has passed, both on Consumerist and elsewhere. People throwing tantrums on the Internet stopped being interesting years ago.

  23. Fubish says: I don't know anything about it, but it seems to me... says:

    I’m waiting for thr Mafioso Cement Kicks.

  24. Jack T Ripper says:

    Wow… You know, I hear the slaves went barefoot too. I guess that should remind people of slavery. And those slaves who wore shoes were special slaves, so we should probably look at people wearing shoes and remember slavery too.

    I get really tired of people crying slavery. Just because you are black doesn’t mean you are a descendent of slaves. I always get a kick out of people who find out their family immigrated from Europe instead of from Africa. Sure they might have come from Africa at some point in the past, but just because you are black doesn’t mean you have a claim to the oppression of slavery. What if every group didn’t let atrocities of the past go? EVERYBODY has a claim on some atrocity, so just let it go. You seriously just look weak when you continue to wring your hands over something that didn’t even happen in your lifetime or your grandparents’ lifetime.

  25. BigHeadEd says:

    I have enough trouble keeping my socks up so these shackle thingies would be bouncing off my ankles all day long.

  26. BigHeadEd says:

    Wrong target demographic. Should have marketed these as cankle girdles and attached them to size 10 pumps.

    • Snaptastic says:

      No–they should have made these all-black shoes with real chains, then market them to the goth kids at Hot Topic.

  27. flip says:

    the same folks claiming this is racist are the same ones who will be buying these

  28. Kaleey says:

    OMG! I HAVE one of those “My Pet Monsters”! They had orange velcro “shackles” that broke apart in the middle of the chain. That is EXACTLY what I thought of when I saw the velcro and chains!

    Made my day!

  29. Jules Noctambule says:

    I though ‘prison’ as soon as I saw them (right after ‘hot damn those are ugly’), but the only slavery association those brought to mind were the working conditions of the people who made the shoes.

  30. HogwartsProfessor says:

    Those are the dumbest looking things I’ve ever seen. I’ll keep my plain old Reeboks, thank you very much. My feet like them and that’s all that matters.

  31. miguelggarcia says:

    Those are some horrible shoes… I’m sure the “designer” hasn’t ever played a single sport in his life. Or maybe they’re just for walking.
    A few years back Nike created a lot of controversy for supposedly embroidering “Allah” on some shoes. It said “Air”, but the font made it appear the other way.

  32. Jevia says:

    My thought was is this a way to keep people from stealing your athletic sneakers off your feet?

  33. mikesanerd says:

    I just want to go on record as saying that I immediately thought of slavery and was highly offended when I saw the shoes. My jaw literally dropped when I saw the picture. I was going to come on here and comment to the effect of “How does something like this make it this far without getting pulled as soon as the shoes are shown to anyone?” But apparently I am the only one here who is offended by them…? wtf

    • msbask says:

      Why does it make you think “slavery” instead of “prison”, though?

      • mikesanerd says:

        I guess it could make some people think of prison. I think I’m fairly safe in saying that manacles are the “standard” symbol for slavery in the United States though. For example, do a google image search for slavery, and see how many of the top results are pictures of manacles or manacled/chained wrists.

    • Cyniconvention says:

      I too thought the general tone would be a little more than “get over it” here.

  34. The Cupcake Nazi says:

    Um…I mean, I can see the criticisms, but yeah, with that color palette, I *immediately* knew that these had to have been inspired by My Pet Monster…

  35. centurion says:

    These would sell very well in Camden, Newark, Trenton…

  36. Kuri says:

    Eh, I think they’re kinda neat looking, though I hate those colors and don’t do sneakers anymore.

  37. Kensuke Nakamura says:

    Reminds me of “my pet monster”.

  38. bigTrue says:

    They should still put them out, but just call them “Toby Airs”.

  39. Chief CL says:

    One of the biggest over-reactions i have seen from the general public in some time.

    People are so sensitive now days it is sad. The shoes look dumb and ridiculous, but for everyone to be pulling slavery into this and taking offense is insane.

  40. dush says:

    Slaves probably would have loved to have high quality footwear to go along with their shackles instead of bare feet and cotton rags.

  41. momtimestwo says:

    I never thought slaves when I first saw them because, well, white people wear sneakers, too. I like the colors, I like the design, I like the creativity. But like a lot of things in fashion, I would never wear it. Now about the white kid up the street who wears a chain attached to both pant legs, I can’t for the life of me figure that one out.

  42. Jimmy37 says:

    Gee, that seems like such a niggardly response.

  43. Hotscot says:

    Are these aimed at the kind of people who wear their jeans belted around their knees? With their underwear showing. Have you seen kids like that? What’s that all about? Talk about absolutely moronic by choice..

  44. 401k says:

    Reminded me of the My Pet Monster shackles.

  45. ILoveBacon says:

    The word “slavery” reminds me of slavery. Ban the word “slavery” NOW!!!

  46. daemonaquila says:

    This is just stupid. It also brings bondage to mind, and a few other things. So what? People getting all offended over these shoes have too much time on their hands.

  47. Cyniconvention says:

    I thought of slavery first, then incarceration, then “Man, these are ugly.”

  48. baristabrawl says:

    Wouldn’t it be nice if someone stealing your shoes had to get past the shackles.

  49. IceCat says:

    Soon to be a overpriced collectable…..

  50. Claybird says:

    I like these, damn “political correctness” for making it racists.

  51. Claybird says:

    I’d wear them, seriously I think they look cool.

  52. gman863 says:

    Remake them in all black and they’ll be a hit in any store that sells S&M or B&D gear.

  53. rework says:

    As stupid as they look, they kind of serve a logical function for a lot of kids.

    Have you ever noticed how many kids refuse to lace up their sneakers? It’s a fashion thing – Has been for years. I remember seeing kickball games where someone kicks the ball and their shoe goes flying off. This is a great solution for that.

    These should be considered a safety device because it could prevent some outfielder being smacked in the head by a flying shoe!

    In fact, these should actually be manditory on all shoes used in kickball games!