The sneaker was supposed become an alternative to a classic high-top sneaker with a strap across the middle.
The company released a preview a few months ago and generated little chatter, but Adidas recently started promoting it on its Facebook page.
Plenty of users left comments on the page’s bulletin board, saying they are particularly offensive to African-Americans because they evoke imagery of slavery and prisoners on the chain gang, writes Fox News.
“Wow obviously there was no one of color in the room when the marketing/product team ok’d this,” said a commenter identifying herself as MsRodwell on nicekicks.com.
“I literally froze up when I saw a new design from Adidas set to hit stores in August,” said Dr. Boyce Watkins in a post for the website Your Black World.
He added: “Shackles. The stuff that our ancestors wore for 400 years while experiencing the most horrific atrocities imaginable.”
More than 2,000 Facebook users have commented, with many calling the design ‘offensive’ and ‘ignorant’, saying the firm has ‘sunk to new lows’ with its ‘slavewear’ product.
One, ‘Kay Tee’, said: ‘It’s offensive and inappropriate in many ways… How would a Jewish person feel if they decided to have a shoe with a swastika on it and tried to claim it was OK in the name of fashion?’
Trying to defend the sneaker’s designer, Jeremy Scott, as having a “quirky” and “lighthearted” style, Adidas decided to cancel the shoe’s release.
“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,” the company said in a statement.
“We apologize if people are offended by the design and we are withdrawing our plans to make them available in the marketplace.”
One of Adidas’ most high-profile condemnations came from the Rev. Jesse Jackson before the release of the company statement:
“The attempt to commercialize and make popular more than 200 years of human degradation, where blacks were considered three-fifths human by our Constitution is offensive, appalling and insensitive.”
It seems Adidas did not want to be outdone by fierce competitor Nike in the controversial shoe design stakes, writes The Daily Mail.
Earlier this year, main Adidas’s rival was accused of ‘huge insensitivity’ for launching a £70 ‘beer-themed’ trainer called ‘The Black and Tan’ in time for St Patrick’s Day.
Nike apologized, saying it “was an innocent name designed to chime with the often boozy celebrations for Ireland’s patron saint.”
One Irish American described the boots as the equivalent of calling a shoe ‘the Al Qaeda’. The trainer is officially called the Nike SB Dunk Low, but has been nicknamed The Black and Tan for its colourings.
An advertisement for the shoe says: “Tis the season for Irish beer and why not celebrate with Nike. The Black and Tan sneaker takes inspiration for the fine balancing act of a stout on top a pale ale in a pint glass.”
Others Irish Americans criticised Nike for being ‘oblivious’ to the historical connotation.