ADIDAS RESPONDS (FINALLY)
no comment from kermit's spokespeople yet
Given that int'l press has been picking up on the controversy over the Y1 Huf Adidas, the company decided to release a press statement explaining their (and co-designer Barry McGee's position):
- Herzogenaurach, March 2006 - With the current introduction of the adicolor series, adidas brings back an iconic footwear concept that celebrates the touch points of self expression, customization and personalization.
Comprised of over 40 unique footwear designs, the adicolor collection is divided in two major parts, the White Series and the innovative Color Series. Represented by six different colors- black, red, pink, green, blue and yellow- the latter series features a number of collaborations between adidas Originals and a diverse group of partners- all icons from the worlds of fashion and art.
Among those is San Francisco-based store HUF, who hooked up with the much-respected West Coast artist Barry McGee, better known by his tag name, “Twist”. Working on and inspired by the streets of America’s cities since the 1980s, Chinese-American McGee and HUF chose to feature one of Twist’s favorite characters, fictional bondsman Ray Fong, on the footbed, lace jewel and tongue of their adicolor sneaker.
McGee on his adicolor sneaker: “Ray Fong is a character I developed well-over four years ago for an art installation in New York. The image was made from a picture of me when I was around eight years old. When I look at the photo, I think- cute! The name Ray Fong came from my uncle Ray Fong who passed away over a decade ago. Keith (HUF) and I never thought the image was “racist” and I am sorry to those people who perceive it that way. All I remember is having Stan Smith’s face on my adidas when I was young, and was elated to put a caricature of myself on a shoe when presented the opportunity this year.”
The HUF/Twist sneaker represents the adicolor concept as it takes expression from the contemporary urban world. Part of the most limited-edition package of the adicolor series, these were produced for a one-time run with a limited distribution of only 1,000 pairs available exclusively at just twelve retail locations worldwide. There is no plan to market these sneakers in the future, and they are expected to completely sell out following this limited release. Please visit www.adidas.com/adicolor to see other models represented in the adicolor series.
adidas is excited to have featured HUF and McGee as part of this project. We are committed to understanding, valuing and incorporating the diversity of our communities and various fields of activities among the global marketplace. adidas does and always has valued an open dialogue with its consumers. Therefore, we welcome the feedback we have received from the global community and will continue to do so. It is an unfortunate coincidence that the HUF/Twist sneaker and its inclusion as part of the “Yellow Series” is misinterpreted as purposely offensive. It is not our intention to offend any group or individual as adidas prides itself on being a multicultural organization.
No real surprises here except that Adidas might have been a lot better served had they released a statement like this earlier. I stand by my original point: I think the shoe is entirely defensible on artistic freedom grounds especially given that it's not a mass market item BUT Adidas could have displayed a greater awareness that there might be some controversy involved given that the Ray Fong image is so clearly a caricature with racial overtones. On the flipside, there's no question that this controversy has garnered the shoe a lot more publicity than it otherwise would have earned.
By the way, on some what of an aside, I've always liked Adidas for its design sensibilities even when I didn't find their shoes to be all that comfortable (sorry, that's why I wear Sauconys and Air Maxes) and there are a few shoes in the Color Series which are fantastic, including the Bill McMullen Yellow and Claude Closky Black.