New East Digital Archive

Adidas’ USSR-themed sports dress disappears from stores after diplomatic spat

Adidas' USSR-themed sports dress disappears from stores after diplomatic spat

8 May 2018

A new dress released for Adidas’ latest World Cup collection has disappeared from stores after sparking hundreds of complaints online.

The red tank dress, emblazoned with the name and crest of the USSR, sparked outrage across social media, with some eastern European sports fans complaining that the design celebrated a nation that invaded and occupied their countries for almost half a century. Some compared the use of the Soviet emblem to promoting facist or Nazi symbols, while others launched an impromptu #stopadidas flashmob on Facebook.

The backlash even attracted attention from diplomats, with the Lithanian foreign ministry stepping in to publically condemn the dress.

The ministry later celebrated when the design disappeared from stores. “Welcome @adidas’s decision to remove from sales the clothing with Soviet symbols,” it wrote. “Respect for millions of victims of Soviet totalitarian regime is an issue of human decency, let’s keep it that way [sic].”

Not to be outdone, the Russian Foreign Ministry replied to the controversy from its official Twitter account with a picture of three Lithuanian basketball greats Arvydas Sabonis, Valdemaras Chomičius, and Šarūnas Marčiulionis in USSR kit. “A bit surprising from @LT_MFA_Stratcom trying to make everybody forget about heroic successes of the Soviet Lithuania in sports. Should be proud of this important part of the national heritage.”

The dress, which was inspired by the 1991 Soviet strip, has since disappeared from Adidas’ official stores. The sports brand had not responded to requests for comment at the time of publication.

It’s not the first time that Adidas has harnessed the post-Soviet vibe to boost sales. The label has repeatedly collaborated with Russian designer Gosha Rubchinsky, whose neon designs featured the brand’s name rendered in Cyrillic.