Monday, June 18, 2012

The fine line between risque and just plain dumb...

Update: As of Monday night, Adidas announced plans to cancel the release of the sneaker. So intelligence (or fear of lawsuits) wins the day.

The fashion world is often known for pushing the envelope, and footwear designers are no exception. While sneakers frequently court controversy because of their astronomical prices, a new Adidas sneaker has garnered an altogether different type of criticism—claims that it promotes racism.

Adidas' new Roundhouse Mid "Handcuff" shoe, created by controversial New York designer Jeremy Scott (he of the $424 clutch that looked like a pair of tighty whiteys, among other infamous creations), features a plastic orange shackle that attaches to each ankle. While the sneakers—priced at a ridiculous $350 a pair—don't hit stores until August, their recent premiere on Adidas' Facebook page has caused quite an uproar.

The sneakers are accompanied by this quote on Facebook: "Tighten up your style with the JS Roundhouse Mids, dropping in August. Got a sneaker game so hot you lock your kicks to your ankles?"

While Adidas may be poking fun at shoe theft, many are equating these binding devices with slavery and prisoners. Comments on the company's Facebook page have referred to the sneakers as everything from "Adidas Amistad Originals" to "ignorant" and "slavewear."

Yet not everyone is offended. Some fans have noted the shackles' resemblance to those "worn" by the 80s toy My Pet Monster.

Adidas' initial response to the controversy was this: "The JS Roundhouse Mid is part of the Fall/Winter 2012 design collaboration between Adidas Originals and Jeremy Scott. 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."

So what do you think? Are these sneakers racist, stupid, or cool? And is any sneaker worth $350?

1 comment:

  1. I recently saw two people at a Nats game, each wearing a Nike branded t-shirt that read, "Lazy but Talented."

    Both people happened be African-American and/or Black. Given the unfair and unfounded "lazy" stereotype about black people, I would not want to wear a shirt like this. Further, it stunned me that Nike would produce a shirt with this message.

    Now surely, there are plenty of non-black people who buy Nike merchandise, but "urban youth" are a key target audience for them.

    Similarly shameful to the "shackle shoes." Gee, imagine if brands could use their power to promote positive images instead of ugly stereotypes.