Sneakers aren’t immune to controversy. Every major company has faced some aspect of backlash over the years for any number of issues including, but not limited to: insensitive design, harmful branding and complete historical oversight.
There are rare occasions—like with the Air Jordan I, which was notoriously banned by the NBA for uniform violations—where the company can use the controversy to its benefit and capitalize on the news coverage. However, the old adage “any press is good press” doesn’t often apply here. A lot of these issues from the past three decades have caused significant rifts in many communities, requiring more than just boilerplate press release apologies. Many of these controversies required significant action.
Everyone from adidas to Umbro has committed some type of sneaker gaffe. There are entries on this list as recently as this year, so it doesn’t appear that our favorite brands will be steering clear of sensitive issues any time soon.
Here are the Most Controversial Sneakers of All Time.