In 2012, fashion designer Jeremy Scott came out with a pair of sneakers from Adidas, the “JS Roundhouse Mid.” Scott, whose signature inspiration is drawn from the nostalgia of characters from his childhood, claimed that the orange shackles around the ankles were a nod to a toy monster he remembered from the 1980s. The release of this design (and the accompanying promotion: “a sneaker … so hot you lock your kicks to your ankles”) was highly controversial, with many critics, like Rev. Jesse Jackson, arguing that the shoes looked like “slave shoes.” Within hours of the new shoe’s announcement, Adidas canceled the design and issued the following statement: “We apologize if people are offended by the design. […] [It] is nothing more than the designer Jeremy Scott’s outrageous and unique take on fashion and has nothing to do with slavery.”
Why did critics argue that the shackles in this design are problematic?
Do you think these shoes are racist? Why or why not?
What do you think of Adidas’s apology statement?
Does fashion, or any other form of art or media, have a social responsibility? Why or why not? Consider that these shoes were being sold for a profit. Does your answer change?