Adidas has withdrawn plans to release a sneaker with an shackle-like ankle cuff after critics said it evoked images of slavery. A collaboration with oddball Beverly Hills designer Jeremy Scott, the sportswear giant promoted the “JS Roundhouse Mid” on Facebook on Thursday with the tagline: “Got a sneaker game so hot you lock your kicks to your ankles?” While Adidas defended Scott’s design by calling an “outrageous and unique take on fashion and has nothing to do with slavery”—the Roundhouse is allegedly based on My Pet Monster, a plush toy from the ’80s—the manufacturer admitted its gaffe and apologized for causing offense.

Adidas, human rights, slavery, workers rights, slave labor, sweatshop labor, sweatshops, eco-fashion, sustainable fashion, green fashion, ethical fashion, sustainable style, eco-friendly shoes, sustainable shoes, eco-friendly sneakers, sustainable sneakers, Jeremy Scott


The controversy comes on the heels—so to speak—of a War on Want campaign targeting Adidas for its complicity in worker abuse in China, Bangladesh, Indonesia, and the Philippines, where many of its products are made.

The controversy comes on the heels of a War on Want campaign targeting Adidas for its complicity in worker abuse.

“Around the world, thousands of people making Adidas goods face appalling conditions, poverty wages, and excessive working hours, with little dignity or respect,” says Murray Worthy, a spokesman for the London-based nonprofit. “This is exploitation. Exploitation of workers is not OK, no matter where they are.”

As the lead sponsor of the upcoming London Olympics, the human-rights group says, Adidas stands to make millions in profits, yet its workers earn as little as 34 pence (52 cents) an hour, are forced to work 15-hour days, and face constant harassment or threats of dismissal. “Adidas must take responsibility for the workers who make their clothes,” Worthy says.

You can’t make this stuff up.

+ Adidas