Sunday, 17 June 2012

New Adidas Trainers - and the Chain Reaction

Firstly, don't jump to any conclusions. I haven't resorted to the endorsement of materialism and capital consumerism as a form elevating my status among a particular "in" crowd, nor have I signed a multi-million dollar contract, in which I am required to cast my opinions and moral values aside (*cough* read 40 million dollar slaves by William C. Rhoden *cough* *cough*) for commercial success. Not that I even would. I haven't even become a fashion guru. If I am blogging about trainers, and these "Adidas", aka, Adolf -Adi Das -sler (oh, you didn't know?  Keep reading you'll find out soon), it is because of these controversial new shoes that has burned my heart. The first I heard of these was from a friend of mine (Thanks Omer), and so I decided to look them up.

Word has it that Adidas are due to release this new shoe in August in the United States, then later elsewhere around the world, and as you can see it has shackles attached to the actual shoe itself. These are called the "JS RoundHouse Mids" and were designed by a Jeremy Scott (who - I'm sure - would be appreciative, as any artist would be, if you gave him feedback of his work!). Now, what's that you ask? Are they fake? Is this a hoax? 

Exhibit A:

Sadly, no. These are real. I know, you're outraged, so am I, but let's calm the burn and analyse this with calculated logic. Primarily, modern day society has reached the apex of its consumerist culture. We are conditioned to want, want, want, and spend, spend, spend to get it. Whether it is our own hard earned, grafted for, money, or through credit, maintaining the cycle of debt. We are conditioned to want and get it, by any means imaginable. This was shown during the London (and elsewhere) riots last summer, where people from all backgrounds were shown looting objects of their material desires from trainers in JD to laptops and DVDs. Also, at the Nike Town store, last year, when the retro Jordan 11s were re-released in limited stock with only 200 (or so) pairs  to be sold. When they ran out, there was mayhem.  As we exist in this bubble of consumerist, individualist culture of materialism what is considered the norm is defined by what people accept, and what people accept is often based on what is given to by those with the most influence. Well, this then begs the question, why shouldn't people wear these? They're just a pair of trainers right? Wrong! 

For every person of African descent, whether it is African Americans, Black British, Caribbeans, Black Brazilians, Original Australians, chains are an immediate reminder of the mass enslavement and genocide of their fore mothers and fathers, and in this context, Adidas are showing complete insensitivity to not only people of African descent, black people, but to all people who have been oppressed at the hands of western imperialism, and those who are still oppressed and enslaved today, and forced into chains. (If this was not the case, you would not have been outraged in the first place, and would never have read this far, so I'm sure you agree). 

Needless to say, Adidas is already very popular among black youths today, and was made popular by the endorsement of popular rap group RUN DMC. This begs the question, who Adidas' target group are? And if there is a subliminal message in the design? I will leave to draw your own conclusions. 

This encouraged me to find out a little bit more about Adidas, the three striped brand. Firstly, Adidas was founded in Germany, by Adolf "Adi" Dassler (Adi-Das), who began manufacturing the shoe just after the first world war and was later joined by his brother Rudolf. With the rise of Nazi Germany, in the 1930s, the Adidas brothers, Adolf and Rudolph joined the Nazi party. Rudolf was drafted and the captured, whilst Adolf stayed behind to produce boots for the Werhmacht (armed forces of Nazi Germany).
The brothers, Adolf and Rudolph, had a strong disagreement in 1948, which caused a family rifted and Rudolph left to form his own shoe company *drum roll please*...... PUMA! (I know right, I hope you're heading to your wardrobe now and then to the kitchen to grab a matchbox). 

"If you control a man's thinking, you need not worry about his actions"

In my opinion, there is a serious argument for an attempt at the social conditioning of everyday people to subliminally accept slavery and all its antecedents, through populist consumerism. And this isn't the first time. The previous attempt was that of the sale of prison suits - I saw several of these being sold in the West End of London - not yet taken by a popular brand, but nonetheless on sale. 
Imagine you saw someone dressed in a prison suit and those Adidas trainers. Whilst he is thinking he is cool, someone has already made a lot of money out of him and is laughing. Secondly, what freedom can you live for, when you've already accept this bondage into your existence.

If we accept the symbols into our everyday lives, how long will it be until it becomes our reality? We have to be very careful of what we endorse. Furthermore, just to add insult to injury, and further insult your intelligence, this new Adidas shoe will cost $350 dollars. That is $100 dollars more than the average annual 
GDP of  a citizen of Burkina Faso. 

Also, (and I want you to think hard about this one) why is it that designers never wear their own designs? 
If this sells, it will really be saddening, and I think, humanity would have reached an all time low.

So this one is out to all oppressed people everywhere, whose reality of suffering is real, whose souls are in turmoil, seeking freedom, yearning for peace, in search of not what they want, but what they need, from Palestine, South Sudan to Eastern Congo, my heart goes out to you, and to all those whose lives were taken, whilst the chains were still around their feet.

We need to wake up to our humanity.


  1. on point JJ. Of course if history was taught more accurately, or at least with more balance, then Europeans and their 'diaspora" would appreciate that the enslavement of peoples around the world is part of THEIR history (albeit as perpetrators) and recognition of that history would mean it would not enter a european mind to possibly entertain manufacturing the shoes.
    Would a German company replicate anything that could be associated with the Jewish holocaust? Of course not. Germany is still made to feel bad about this, and yet the millions more Africans who have died and are dying at the hands of European history and current economic systems, do not even register on the european psyche. They may never, but I firmly believe it will take powerhouse nations to come to the fore and unite in Africa to kick some european ass and call for some accountability, once the European empire has crumbled. People can't self-regulate their own evil.

  2. Very eloquently put Rob, particularly with how you end "People can't self-regulate their own evil", I've never heard that before, and it is completely true, especially as that it was it is happening.

  3. Very good article, I learned alot from it. My hunch was that this must be a hoax. But then seeing that prison suit thing...

  4. Next we'll have commercial hip-hop artists greeting each other with "what up, slave?" I kid you not.

  5. Amazing read. Very eye opening, from a perspective I have yet not seen. Although it is necessary to form ones own conclusions, I feel what I've just read will most likely be it. Thanks.

  6. We should cry outrage and have a law against such things