Look, guys: Adidas made slave shoes! Er…Shackle Sneakers? Every successful sports apparel company innovates to keep up with the market, and inevitably, that leads to some serious failures from time to time. But Adidas’ decision to put chains and shackles on a basketball shoe either seems like a sad, desperate plea for media attention…or just the worst judgement we’ve ever seen from an athletic brand.
The shoes, called JS Roundhouse Mids, are debuting in august, but preliminary photos are already getting tons of heat from critics online for basically looking like a colorful throwback to slavery. Adidas marketed the shoes for people who have “a sneaker game so hot you lock your kicks to your ankles.”
In the face of angry critics, they’ve changed their tune. Adidas rep Lauren Lamkin said in a statement that they’re “nothing more than the designer Jeremy Scott‘s outrageous and unique take on fashion and has nothing to do with slavery,” and that “any suggestion that this is linked to slavery is untruthful.”
Scott’s past work for Adidas has bucked conventions with bright colors and off-the-wall embellishments, drawing critical acclaim and pop star devotees—he’s certainly not the designer you hire to streamline your shoes for performance. But shackles? These seem like almost as much of a mess to wear as they are for PR.
UPDATE: Adidas announced that they’re cancelling production of the JS Roundhouse Mids, saving us all from shackle sneaker/slave shoe debates. Hooray!