Adidas Kills Jeremy Scott's Shackle Sneakers (Or "Slave Shoes")
Los Angeles-based designer Jeremy Scott is trying to weather the controversy over his collaboration with Adidas. The JS Roundhouse Mids, which were supposed to be released in August, feature ankle shackles, which sparked some talk that the sneakers were racist and recalled slavery. Today, Adidas cancelled the shoes, even though the company had denied any connection to slavery earlier.
In a statement yesterday, Adidas said, "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. 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. Any suggestion that this is linked to slavery is untruthful." Today, Adidas basically said the same thing, but added, "We apologize if people are offended by the design and we are withdrawing our plans to make them available in the marketplace."
Scott has been trying to explain his inspiration:
But the Rev. Jesse Jackson is having none of that. In a column on the Huffington Post, Jackson wrote:
The attempt to commercialize and make popular more than 200 years of human degradation, where blacks were considered three-fifths human by our Constitution is offensive, appalling and insensitive. Removing the chains from our ankles and placing them on our shoes is no progress For Adidas to promote the athleticism and contributions of a variety of African-American sports legends -- especially Olympic heroes Wilma Rudolph and Jesse Owens and boxing great Muhammad Ali -- and then allow such a degrading symbol of African-American history to pass through its corporate channels and move toward actual production and advertisement, is insensitive and corporately irresponsible.
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.