MANHATTAN — The New York-based artist behind the controversial Adidas "shackles" sneakers defended the shoe design Tuesday, saying he was inspired by a stuffed toy — not slavery.
Designer Jeremy Scott, who has designed Adidas Originals sneakers that include panda heads and Mickey Mouse, posted a photo of My Pet Monster on Twitter and said that the cartoon stuffed toy with orange shackles were his inspiration for the purple-and-orange sneakers featuring plastic orange chains with a cuff strapping around the ankle.
The sneakers, which were set to debut in August, ran into a major controversy after Adidas unveiled an image of them on Facebook last week. Many accused the designs of having racist overtones related to slavery.
But the big plastic orange cuffs and the kicks' color scheme borrows from the popular 1980s and 1990s stuffed animal, "My Pet Monster," the designer alluded to on Twitter.
"My work has always been inspired by cartoons, toys & my childhood," Scott tweeted Monday.
The sneakers also had many defenders on its Facebook thread, which garnered roughly 3,700 comments.
"Jeremy Scott is renowned as a designer whose style is quirky and lighthearted," Adidas said in a statement. "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."
"We apologize if people are offended by the design and we are withdrawing our plans to make them available in the marketplace," the company said.
Some advocates remained angry.
"The gimmicky marketing of a product that reminds us of prisons and slavery is evidence of crude cultural, political and historical ignorance and insensitivity on the behalf of the Adidas company," said Soffiyah Elijah, executive director of the Correctional Association of New York, which fights for more humane treatment of incarcerated people.
"It is good to hear Adidas is pulling the shoe, but we can, and should, still send a strong message to the company with our wallets."
Scott likely did not intend for the firestorm.
"For the record," he tweeted, "this is the only controversy that I like," linking to a video clip of a Prince song from 1981 called "Controversy."