Photo by Timothy A Clary/AFP/Getty Images.
With a nod to St. Patrick’s Day this weekend, Nike released a new version of its popular SB Dunk Low sneakers this month nicknamed "Black and Tans," a reference to the combination of a dark beer (usually Guinness) and a lighter lager that is popular among Irish pub goers.
But the shoe and apparel giant on Tuesday apologized and disavowed the name after critics in Ireland pointed out that it was also the nickname of British forces accused of murdering Irish civilians early in the 20th century, prior to Irish independence. The Los Angeles Times says the name, especially as a tie-in to an Irish holiday, is akin to "naming a sneaker the Taliban or the Nazi."
Nike’s apology was swift:
This month Nike is scheduled to release a version of the Nike SB Dunk Low that has been unofficially named by some using a phrase that can be viewed as inappropriate and insensitive. We apologise. No offence was intended.
The shoe maker apparently was unaware of a similar indicident from 2006, when Ben & Jerry's released a Black and Tan-flavored ice cream and promptly faced the wrath of Irish customers.
Meanwhile, NPR caught up with a reporter from the Irish Times who disputed the idea that the shoe's name was unofficial—a pint glass appears on the shoes' footbed—but said the real reason behind the uproar is broader discontent about how American culture has appropriated St. Patrick’s Day as a drinking holiday. He also added: "We wouldn't really dilute our Guinness over here. It's not really the done thing to do."