Adidas is defending its design for sneakers with orange ankle bracelets and chains, despite criticism from bloggers and Facebook users that the shoes resemble shackles worn by African slaves.
“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 spokesperson said. “Any suggestion that this is linked to slavery is untruthful.”
Jeremy Scott’s past designs for Adidas have featured panda heads and Mickey Mouse.
Adidas announced plans to launch the basketball sneakers June 14 in a post on the company’s Facebook page.
The post encourages fans to “tighten up their style” with a pair of the sneakers, officially named JS Roundhouse Mids, asking, “Got a sneaker game so hot you lock your kicks to your ankles?”
More than 2,000 comments have been submitted on the post.
One commenter, Darlene Page, called the shoes “slaveware.” Another, George Geder, wrote, “I think it’s inappropriate. The idea of being chained to Adidas or any object is repulsive.”
Other commenters are calling for a boycott of the product. “Please African Americans don’t line up for these. Where does the respect begin and end for our people? Boycott please,” Beverly Harper wrote.
Still, more than 35,000 people have liked the shoes on Facebook ahead of the product’s August release.
“Quit acting like Adidas is enslaving you. A shoe has a chain on it that you wear. Big deal,” Facebook user Aaron Casey wrote.
Bloggers have also commented on the new shoe design.
Dr. Boyce Watkins, a professor at Syracuse University, wrote in an article for Your Black World that he “literally froze up” when he saw a picture of the Adidas sneakers.
“Handcuffs… shackles… the stuff that our ancestors wore for 400 years while experiencing the most horrific atrocities imaginable, most of which were never documented in the history books and kept away from you in the educational system, all so you would be willing to put shackles on your ankles today and not be so sensitive about it,” Watkins wrote.
“Adidas, like Nike, understands that there are plenty of uneducated minds that are quite willing to go along with this kind of ridiculous stuff,” he wrote.