Top sportswear designer Adidas Tuesday decided to cancel sales of sneakers topped with rubber ankle chains after criticism that they evoked memories of slavery.

The so-called "shackle sneakers" equipped with orange rubber chains to be fixed above the shoes were to have gone on sale in August in the United States.

But leading African American advocate Jesse Jackson has led criticism of the sneakers, saying: "The attempt to commercialize and make popular more than 200 years of human degradation, where blacks were considered three-fifths human by our constitution is offensive, appalling and insensitive.

"Removing the chains from our ankles and placing them on our shoes is no progress."

In a statement to AFP, Adidas said the JS Roundhouse Mid Handcuff model designed by quirky designer Jeremy Scott "has nothing to do with slavery."

"Since the shoe debuted on our Adidas Originals Facebook page ahead of its market release in August, Adidas has received both favorable and critical feedback," it said in the statement.

"We apologize if people are offended by the design and we are withdrawing our plans to make them available in the marketplace."