When sneaker company Adidas posted a photo on their Facebook page last Thursday of a new shoe, the JS Roundhouse Mid, the backlash was quick and heated.
Crafted by Beverly Hills designer Jeremy Scott, the shoe featured an orange ankle brace, reminiscent of a shackle, chained to purple and grey high top sneaker. The caption joked, "Got a sneaker game so hot you lock your kicks to your ankles?" Critics, many speaking out on Facebook and Twitter, said the shoe invoked the imagery of slavery. Civil rights activist Rev. Jesse Jackson led the charge against the shoe. He took to Huffington Post to blast the "Shackle Shoe Human Degradation":
These slave shoes are odious and we as a people should be called to resent and resist them. If put into production and placed on the market, protests and pickets signs will follow. Adidas cannot make a profit at the expense of commercialized human degradation.
According to CNN, Jackson said civil rights groups could boycott the shoe if Adidas moved forward with its August release, and these groups would even call on NBA Commissioner David Stern to get involved. While not fully backing down from the design of the shoe, Adidas did say it would be withdrawing its plans to sell the shoe. In a E-mailed statement to U.S. News and World Report, Adidas representative Michael Ehrlich said:
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.
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Tierney Sneed is associate editor of U.S. News Opinion. E-mail her at firstname.lastname@example.org.