Adidas bowed to public pressure this week and decided to cancel the roll-out of their new shackle shoe. The shoes came equipped with little rubber shackles, and many have compared the leg restraints to those worn by slaves.
The German company denied it had any racist intent and said in a release that the shoes were created in conjunction with fashion designer Jeremy Scott. The release went on to say that the design was Mr. Scott’s “outrageous and unique take on fashion and has nothing to do with slavery.”
Intentionally racist or not, many feel this is just the latest example of an out-of-touch company trying to market to African Americans without understanding their unique historical legacy.
Earlier this year the French apparel company Jet Set was universally condemned for their new line of children’s clothing called “Little Cotton Pickers.” The ads for the apparel line featured a happy slave family picking cotton while a child was chasing a chicken in the background.
That was actually less offensive than the Russian company Chernoy’s attempt to appeal to black consumers with a new line of watermelon and grape flavored Vodkas. Their slogan of “You might as well blow your welfare check on this” was also seen as offensive.
As bad as the other examples were, they paled in comparison to insensitivity shown by the Swiss toy company Umlaht, with their new “Urban Baby” line of talking dolls. Of particular concern was the fact that the dolls frequently used profanity and asked “Are you my daddy?” whenever they were picked up.