(June 21, 2012) German athletic apparel maker Adidas agreed June 18 to cancel plans to release shoes with plastic ankle shackles after drawing a considerable amount of criticism from civil rights leaders, consumers, and pro basketball league officials and players this week.

According to the Adidas Originals Facebook page, where the first images of the JS Roundhouse Mids debuted on June 14, the shoes were set to go on sale in August.
It only took four days of mounting public criticism before the company announced it would cancel release of the $350 product on June 18, according to ABC News.

“Shackles were used in slavery times for 246 years and used on chain gangs. It conjures up the images of our misery that are too serious to be trivialized and too painful to be trivialized,” Rev. Jesse Jackson told the AFRO in a phone interview.

“One would not casually put a shoe with a swastika on it to be suggestive of such a painful period in Jewish history, so advertisements must be sensitive to the subliminal messages that they send,” said Jackson, who encouraged consumers to learn the implications behind the term “chain gang” before buying into the shoe’s hype.
Jackson was so incensed by the product that when he noticed Adidas listed as a sponsor of the final round of the 2012 NBA Championship playoffs, he contacted National Basketball Association Commissioner David Stern. A key point in preventing the shoes from going on sale was opposition from Stern and NBA players, said Jackson, who also threatened to picket during the highly publicized championship finals.
The JS Roundhouse Mids were created by popular designer Jeremy Scott and according to ABC News, were inspired by the My Pet Monster toy from the 1980s. Multiple My Pet Monster toys for sale on eBay show the vintage blue toy with bright orange shackles similar to those seen on the shoe.

The shoe has received 38,000 “likes,” over 9,000 shares to other sites, and more than 4,000 comments and responses to the picture posted on Facebook with the caption: “Got a sneaker game so hot you lock your kicks to your ankles?”

Opinions posted fall on both sides of the debate of whether the shoes have racist undertones.

“Get over the whole slave thing and check into 2012,” said one post, while another, minutes later, said “Clearly Adidas has run out of ideas.”

The company has stood up for the product and its designer, saying in a statement to ABC News. “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,” the company said.

“We apologize if people are offended by the design and we are withdrawing our plans to make them available in the marketplace.”

Scott has a long list of fashion design credits to his name, and according to the L.A. Times, has fused popular toys and cartoons such as Barbie, Bart Simpson, and Snoopy into his clothing designs.
Though Jackson says he understands that everyone has the freedom of choice to use what words they please and wear what fashions suit them, he also wants to remind consumers “We must never trade our dignity for dollars or for fun.”

Alexis Taylor

AFRO Staff Writer