Adidas criticized for 'shackles' sneakers, denies link to slavery

June 18, 2012 at 2:29 PM ET

Adidas / Facebook /
Adidas released an image of their new JS Roundhouse Mids sneakers on Facebook. The reception was less than positive, with Facebook members calling it insensitive and racist.

By Lisa Flam

A hurtful symbol of slavery or simply a quirky fashion statement?

Adidas is rebuffing fierce criticism of one of its upcoming original sneaker designs. The JS Roundhouse Mid, a collaboration between Adidas Originals and edgy fashion designer Jeremy Scott and due to be released in August, features a bright orange chain and ankle strap.

The public got its first look at the sneakers when Adidas added a photo of them to the brand's Facebook page on June 14 with the  caption: “Got a sneaker game so hot you lock your kicks to your ankles?”

The posting has racked up more than 2,000 comments, with many describing them as offensive, inappropriate, and yes, even ugly.

“What is this, the slavery line?” Christopher Daniels asked in the photo’s comment section.

“Why would you want shackles round your legs that’s just like back in slavery days #sillyidea,” commented Shakira Allen.

“Wearing them you can feel like real prisoner,” wrote Pawel Lisowski.

Aamir Ali also saw a jailhouse connection, writing: “Sorry but I'd rather not look like someone who just broke out of prison.”

While detractors likened the kicks to slave chains and prison shackles, Adidas said the JS Roundhouse Mids are not meant to be a symbol of oppression, and noted that Scott has previously designed creative kicks for Adidas featuring panda bear 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,” a representative for the shoemaker told TODAY.com by email. “Jeremy Scott is renowned as a designer whose style is quirky and lighthearted ...  Any suggestion that this is linked to slavery is untruthful.”

Not everyone who commented were offended by the kicks.

“Jeremy always pushes boundaries,” wrote Hanna Lauwers. “Shoes like these just makes it even more obvious that only people with real guts want and would wear them. This has nothing to do with slavery."

And Tola T VMZ wrote: “Not everything with a chain is related to slavery, people.”

What do you think of the sneakers? Do you think they're in poor taste? Let us know in the comments section!

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