Adidas, Jeremy Scott Under Fire For ‘Slave Sneakers’

Meet the Jeremy Scott x adidas Roundhouse Mid “Handcuffs,” a collaboration between downtown designer Jeremy Scott (well known for his colorful, eccentric collaborations) and Adidas, obviously. They’re pretty much just Adidas’ classic Roundhouse style, updated with some funky, bright Jeremy Scott-y colors and, uh, Velcro ankle shackles. They’re scheduled to hit stores in August, but it’s possible public outcry might change that.

Adidas posted the above image on their Facebook page and the comment thread is (at publication time) an agonized 2,315 comment shouting match about whether or not these are a tasteless allusion to slavery. We’ve been wading through trying to decipher the arguments and they pretty much break down like this:

1. The shoes are racist.

2. Not racist, just tasteless.

3. People who think the shoes are racist/tasteless are idiots.

4. But it could be tasteless because of jail and also house arrest!

5. Everyone is an idiot.

6. These shoes are fresh.


Here are a few of the comments: “adidas supported apartheid in Africa,” “If u think it’s racist then u probably are RACIST,” ”Those chains have some weird connotations I don’t like,” ”Looks real cool but has a VERY RACIST message,” and of course, “Adidas, by actually selling these shoes in August, you will be teaching children that its fashionable to be in shackles. I am going to do everything in my power to have these shoes banned from sale in August.” References to Roots and Amistad throughout.

We’re guessing Scott’s inspiration was sneakerheads being chained to their kicks. Adidas told HuffPo that there was no harm intended:

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.

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    • Kelly

      I instantly thought of all those intercity kids who have their shoes stolen. Maybe if they’re chained on they’ll leave them alone.

    • Fabel

      I’d understand the “shackles” if this were a different footwear item, like a stiletto or boot– then it would clearly read as sexy & bondage-y, instead of “slave”– but they serve no purpose (and look fucking ugly) on a pair of sneakers. I think “Those chains have some weird connotations I don’t like” actually accurately represents my feelings on this.

    • Cate

      These are absolutely hideous and also tasteless. I don’t think they’re racist, but I do think it’s like wearing a big sandwich board that says ‘Hi guys, I’m LITERALLY chained to mindless consumerism! I’m so cool!’

      • ikea


    • Marie

      It’s stupid people are getting all up in arms about these. Jeremy Scott and Adidas were stupid for not realizing people would get all up in arms about these.

    • Cpa00I

      Not racism? O.k so lets come up with a new theme sneaker. Picture a old wooden train cart with lots of hands sticking thru, on tracks leading towards a bobwire structure. Now lets call it old German style. yeah, i can see how you would miss the message implied as the artist would say that i came up with the theme by watching old trains runing down tracks in Europe. Please think for yourself, don’t wait to be spoon fed.

    • scallywag

      Slavery? Swastika? Are we not taking the line of thought a bit too far? Why not the symbol of Jesus who might annoy atheists? Or whatever else it is that is perceived distasteful? Then again isn’t one’s sense of fashion a personal involvement?

      Are we to now grab people off the street and beat them up viciously if they choose to dress in a way that offends us? That I imagine would also go to manufacturers. Nothing after all is more effective than telling the manufacturer that their product is non gratis than us staying away in droves. But will you?

    • True Tasha

      It seem to me that they know something that we pretend that it is over. That Slavery still exist!

      These people will never change so stop expecting them to.
      The Real reason is that the Risk out weighed the Gain. They was going to lose to many customers.
      So wake up !!

    • nicki

      If you’re saying these shoes are racist, then it sounds like you’re a racist yourself because you make it sound like sneakers are only for a particular race…