Trinidad James apologises – kind of – after row over locally-inspired sneakers

Trinidad James.
Trinidad James.

TRINIDAD-BORN US rapper Trinidad James (real name Nicholaus Williams) has launched a new sneaker under his label HOMEWRK (not a typo).

But social media users were left wondering if the label, in fact, did any homework as it said the inspiration behind the red kicks was “the hibiscus – the national flower of Trinidad and Tobago.”

James is best known for his 2012 international hit All Gold Everything.

On Monday, he posted a digital page from sneaker magazine Hartcopy to Facebook, Twitter and Instagram saying the shoe will be released in November.

The sneakers are a collaboration between HOMEWRK and US athletic footwear brand Saucony, and uses the latter’s Jazz 81 runner as the base.

On the sole of the shoe are the words “Do your homework.”

The description on Hartcopy says, “James looks to the hibiscus flower for inspiration – the national flower of his hometown Trinidad and Tobago.

“James opts for a semi-transparent toe box next to lush suede and supple leather. The sneaker is coloured primarily in red and pink to resemble the hibiscus.”

While some sneakerheads were excited about the release, TT nationals were confused and irritated for two reasons.

TT’s national flower is the double chaconia, and TT is not a “town” but a country.

A Twitter user asked, “How many times have we been misrepresented by celebrities at this point?” while another said, “We did this in social studies in second year, baby, keep up.”

Others thought people were overreacting and should, instead, be grateful for the international attention despite the “small error.”

All photos, promos and other content related to the shoes have since been deleted from all social media platforms.

James later posted a video explaining he had made a mistake, adding that, "Trinis have a(n) issue.

"...And it's a good issue because I appreciate a Trinidadian. A Trinidadian is a person that will always hold you accountable for your mess or when you're acting (like) an a--.

"I own my company and I'm very proud of my company and I'm very proud of my workers. They are amazing...But the one thing about the human experience is that you will make mistakes. And when you make mistakes, you have to be a big man or a big woman and be able to own up to them."

He corrected himself, saying the chaconia is the national flower, but that it "has nothing to do with the sneakers.

"We do our homework over here, trust and believe."

He then said the real reason the hibiscus was the inspiration behind the shoes was because his favourite drink is sorrel and "it is made from the hibiscus flower.

"The sneaker is sorrel red."

When locals tried to explain that while sorrel is a species of hibiscus, it is not the flower he's referring to in his designs, he tweeted, "I'm not apologising for you fake Trinis trying to attack me. You know how I roll. It won't work.

"It's a sneaker not a book we making. The hibiscus flower that they use to make sorrel is the same colour. The hibiscus is a way more beautiful flower than the sorrel plant. That's why we market that flower that grow in Trinidad. Respectfully relax."


"Trinidad James apologises – kind of – after row over locally-inspired sneakers"

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