Rio 2016 is here and I’ll be looking back over the history of the games with some articles over the next few weeks, starting with the ‘LA Trainer’.
'Spirit of the Games' was the adidas advertising slogan for the 1984 Games and they produced a range of shoes, textiles and bags to match.
The 1984 Los Angeles Games was certainly a memorable one; - Russia and the Eastern Bloc countries refused to participate in the event in response to the US lead mass boycott of the 1980 Moscow games, Carl Lewis romped home with four gold medals for the States in track events, Zola Budd collided with Mary Decker in the 3000m (causing her to fall and causing much controversy), while Daley Thompson and Sebastian Coe took Gold Medals home for Great Britain. Off the track the battle between adidas and Nike was just as competitive. After a disappointing Montreal Games, Nike viewed the games as theirs, being in their own backyard and giving adidas a bloody nose in the process but I’ll talk about that later in the Games.
The ‘LA Trainer’ is synonymous with the event but actually debuted in 1980 and was manufactured in Germany and Austria. Adidas had a habit of producing models earlier than the occasion to build up interest and sales. From a design point of view the ‘LA Trainer’ is flawless, packing all of the latest technological advancements. As the name suggests it was intended for preparation, with the lighter and sleeker ‘LA Competition’ for event running. The shoe was therefore built with durability and all weather conditions in mind. The upper is made of nylon mesh allowing the foot to breathe and is re-enforced heavily around the ankle, heel and toe. The toe box is the open ‘Racing’ style which improved ventilation but still offered a solid amount of protection from injury. An additional ventilation panel has also been inserted into the sides of the front of the suede. The rubber outsole has slanted studs for shock absorption but it’s the midsole that is most prominent, debuting the famous ‘Vario Shock Absorption’ system.
A row of three holes in the midsole allowed different shock absorption rods (commonly called ‘pegs’) to be inserted into the shoe offering different levels of cushioning. The runner could change the pegs using a key to suit their own body weight, running style or running surfaces. The Vario system would go on to be used on some of adidas’s most cherished models including the ‘Grand Slam’, ‘Kegler Super’, ‘SRS’ and ‘Columbia’ but it all started with the ‘LA Trainer’.
The Austrian made 'LA Super' from 1987. One of the few 'LA Trainer' variants.
Production carried on until 1987 with only slight modifications, before being relaunched as part of the ‘Originals’ series in 1991 and being manufactured in Croatia, Poland, Slovakia and Slovenia throughout the decade. It’s pretty hard to source a vintage pair due the soles material. In case you missed it, adidas have re-released this model recently and I have to say it’s one of their best re-issues of the year.
There is still chance to pick it up from SNS here
Today also sees the release of the LA Trainer Consortium Made in Germany which can be found here