The campaign features a male-presenting model with chest hair and a bulge sporting what the brand describes as their “Pride Swimsuit” a brightly coloured one-piece.
The garment has been launched ahead of June’s Pride Month. The brand partnered with South African designer Rich Mnisi on the collection.
While some have taken the design well, in other corners it has sparked outrage with some saying it is contributing to the “erasure” of women.
One person posted on Twitter: “We women will not be erased! Quit trying to replace us with male models! We’ve fought hard to be heard. Quit attempting to erase us again!”
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Another Twitter user said: “Go woke, go broke. Time to boycott Adidas.” This person was among several users saying Adidas was too woke, a term Dictionary.com defines as “being conscious of racial discrimination in society and other forms of oppression and injustice”.
Adidas’s latest campaign has also received criticism from professional swimmer Riley Gaines. Ms Gaines tweeted: “I don’t understand why companies are voluntarily doing this to themselves.
“They could have at least said the suit is “unisex”, but they didn’t because it’s about erasing women. Ever wondered why we hardly see this go the other way?” She added: “Women’s swimsuits aren’t accessorised with a bulge.”
Although there has been criticism of Adidas’s campaign, it is not clear what the gender identity of the model in the campaign is.
In a statement, Rich Mnisi said: “In creating this collection, I had a strong impulse to speak to my inner child and express to the world how LGBTQIA+ allyship can create a legacy of love.
“Unifying these themes together through my own visual language and Adidas’ iconic performance and lifestyle pieces is a powerful combination – making the collection a symbol for self-acceptance and LGBTQIA+ advocacy.
“My hope is this range inspires LGBTQIA+ allies to speak up more for the queer people they love and not let them fight for acceptance alone.”
The brand said the campaign was part of a drive to make sport more equal, but there are concerns this swimsuit could have unintended consequences.
There are growing fears of people boycotting the brand in the same way they boycotted Bud Light after they advertised with transgender influencer Dylan Mulvaney.
In response to the backlash, author Dr Delatorro McNeal said: “My concern with all of the bashing and all of the categorising is that we’re not leading with love and we’re not leading with acceptance and inclusion.”
He told Daily Blast Live: “We all want to count, we all want to matter, we all want to be included, and it’s so vitally important.
“So I believe that, although there’s a fine line between free speech and freedom of expression, I believe at the end of the day if Adidas wants to create this line, let them do it.
“The customers that are going to align with that message and are aligned with that product are going to get it those that won’t, won’t.”