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Worst sneaker idea ever? Adidas’ ‘shackle’ shoes

Adidas' new sneakers featuring shackle each shoe.

Adidas' new sneakers featuring a shackle on each shoe.

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Updated: July 20, 2012 6:16AM

When a boneheaded idea such as the new Adidas “shackle sneakers” hits the fan, you wonder how such an obviously stupid concept made it past the planning stages.

Surely, nobody at Adidas thought, “Let’s release a sneaker with slavery connotations.” But did no one look at a gym shoe with a chain and shackle attached and say, “Um, team, we might have a problem?”

In a post last week on the Adidas Original Facebook page, the company featured a photo of the purple, gray, white and black hi-tops that feature orange, plastic chains affixed to orange ankle bands with Velcro straps. The price: a mere $350.

Like a lot of expensive designer sneakers, they look like something a cartoon character would be wearing. But, hey, the kids (and a lot of adults) love these sneaks. Fights have broken out among customers waiting in line for the release of the latest Nike or Reebok or Adidas sneaker.

“Got a sneaker game so hot you lock your kicks to your ankles?” reads the copy. “Tighten up your style with the JS Roundhouse Mids, dropping in August.”

That’s right. Sneakers now “drop,” just like singles from platinum artists.

Then again, platinum artists sometimes design their own sneakers. The new Kanye West sneaks — the Nike Air Yeezy II — retail for a cool $250.

Or maybe a cool hipster touch

But nobody’s talking about the Nike Air Yeezy II. All the buzz centers on the Jeremy Scott x adidas Roundhouse Mid “Handcuffs,” and, yes, that’s a lot of terminology for a pair of glorified gym shoes.

The debate is raging on that Adidas Facebook page.

“Please tell me this is FAKE,” wrote one commenter. “I am not [wearing] those Adidas Amistad Originals.”

“I hate these sneakers,” wrote another. “Slaveware.”

“I pray to GOD an African American did not come up with this cultural anathema,” wrote another. “I will NEVER don another pair of Adidas if these shoes see the light of day ... I have too much respect for myself and my culture, not to mention the [millions of Africans] who died between the shores of Africa and America ... If this is just a bad idea that somehow made it through ... at least you can correct the mistake. Adidas, we are watching and waiting for you to do the right thing!”

Others say the chains could be interpreted to imply you have to lock the sneakers to your own feet so they won’t get stolen — another unfortunate connotation, given the incidents of designer sneaker owners victimized by thugs.

Then, of course, there’s the “Relax, people!” contingent, who look at the sneakers and simply see ... sneakers.

“Not everything with a chain is related to slavery, people,” wrote one commenter.

Do I find the sneakers deeply, personally offensive? No, but I’m obviously not the one whose ancestors were brought here in shackles. I do find them to be overpriced and ugly — and, yeah, it DOES look like ankle chains are attached to the shoes.

Adidas’ response? Chill out, people.

“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.”

I’m sure what they mean to say is that any suggestion the INTENT was to link to slavery is inaccurate. But the link is there. Not because Scott or anyone at Adidas desired such a link but because thousands of people are seeing the link.

And the only way to shatter that link is to scrap the chain links on those shoes.

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