So, Adidas have decided to pull the release of Jeremy Scott’s My Pet Monster-inspired JS Roundhouse ‘Handcuffs’ sneaker and issued this statement:
“[This shoe]…is nothing more than the designer Jeremy Scott’s outrageous and unique take on fashion and has nothing to do with slavery…Since the shoe debuted on our Facebook page ahead of its market release in August, Adidas has received both favorable and critical feedback. We apologize if people are offended by the design and we are withdrawing our plans to make them available in the marketplace.”
Really?! Censorship in shoe design?!
When I wrote my post about Jeremy Scott’s Autumn/Winter collection last week, I made every effort to leave the slavery connotations alone ; I knew that was a storm that would blow up without any help from me .
I’d like to say to say it didn’t even cross my mind – of course it did – but I decided instead to write about what they are as opposed to something they most definitely are not
And what they are is shoes inspired by My Pet Monster…and that’s it.
That post has now been viewed thousands of times since it was noticed by Foster Kramer at The New York Observer , who gave it as an example of why this ‘outrage’ is nonsense and so, in choosing not to fan the flames, it’s possible I may even have helped put one or two out!
And I’m glad, because even quickest snoop around this blog will show how much I like Jeremy Scott’s work, but then, maybe I am more in line with his age and taste than some of the people who called foul on this most innocent of design concepts.
To play Devil’s Advocate, one could claim that shackles and images of slavery are so entwined in everyone’s minds that they are best left out of anything light-hearted and that doing otherwise can only ever be disrespectful.
I expect people would also say that the designer was ignorant if he truly believed these shoes could be taken at face value ie: being based on a stuffed toy.
But surely there’s a difference between being ignorant, which I’m sure he is not, and genuinely thinking that people would ‘get’ him’?
At what point does an artist have to curb his output to suit the ignorance of the wider public?
Should he have kept that design for his own collection and sent it down the runway in the hope a high fashion audience would have been more in tune with him?
A high-heeled shoe in black leather with a metal ankle cuff and chain wouldn’t get this response. It would be reviewed in passing as part of the collection and at, at best, labelled ‘sexy’ or ‘risky’ for its oh-so-naughty invocation of S&M.
The fashion world is used to that kind of thing; I doubt even the most ardent feminist would bother linking this hypothetical shoe to any other kind of bondage.
This real life shoe is purple with cuffs made of bright orange plastic. Even if, like all these complainants, you know nothing of My Pet Monster, you have to work pretty hard to concoct anything sinister.
What is sinister is the possibility that the suggestion that it is a black/white issue looming over this whole debacle at all.
There are many comments on various sites that suggest this is something along the lines of a white man putting shackles on black people’s feet. Who really thinks that the entire target market for these shoes is black? When are these people?
It would appear that – to some – sneaker culture is still ‘black’ whilst the fashion world is ‘white’ and that a designer from one world can’t design for another without applying different rules to their usual process .
Let’s see how that actually sounds in a sentence:’WE know it’s My Pet Monster but ‘they’ won’t get it’ so we’d better not use that one’
In 2012? Really? Is that where we are?
Surely, that the designer, and every other step in a huge company like Adidas, assumed that EVERYONE would see these shoes as intended is a good thing!
I think it’s EXACTLY where we should be now.
I would go so far as to say that the people who would have bought this shoe ARE there.
The problem with the internet is that everyone has access to everything, sometimes things they don’t understand.
Without the internet and if these shoes were being stocked only in particular types of shops or featured in a certain type of magazine, most of the outraged wouldn’t have seen these shoes unless a celebrity picked up a pair and crossed them over somehow.
But,it’s Ok. It’s OK if you don’t get it because it’s not for you.
It might still be ‘us’ and ‘them’ but it certainly isn’t black and white.