Sunday, 13 November 2016

Adidas visit Part 3

The third and final part of my visit to adidas, a long overdue post I know! We are inside the archive and basically it is rows and rows of shelving with white boxes on. At the front were some shoes on display which hadn't yet been archived or were being worked on for current projects, but everything else was sealed enticingly away. We were guided around the different areas;- shoes, textiles, footballs and bags and Martin H showed us a good few gems including Muhammad Ali's signed boxing boots and world cup match balls. Then we got to request to look at shoes from the archives and Martin would go and fetch the box (amazing how he knew where everything was) and bring it out for us to take a look. We had over an hour in here but it seemed to pass like ten minutes. Here is a look at my favourite 5 models I viewed on the day.

Ok most people have seen these and they were of course re-issued as PT Running 76 (as far as I can remember that was the name anyway). Adidas did about 6 or 7 mock-ups of the shoe including one with a ventilation pipe extending from the sole, but Martin at the archives couldn't find it! They were the 1976 prototype for the Formel 1 running shoe which was released in 1977 and although the colourway and materials changed you can see clearly see inspiration for the shoe in this prototype. Back in 1976 adidas were losing ground to Nike in the American running market because they didn't really have many jogging or road racing shoes - so Adi himself worked on some new models including this and the TRX. So there is a lot of design elements in this one shoe like the thick wedged foam midsole for cushioning, the extended outsole for balance and shock absorption and the cut away suede reinforcements at the front which for strengthening the shoe but also increased ventilation. The reflective section on the sole and reflective triangular strip were never used on the final model. The foam wedge on this prototype was quite rough as it was cut by hand - and while exposed here, the finished article would have the wedge encased inside a plastic mould.

You may have seen pictures of these floating around the internet before, I had. They are simply amazing close up. They do not have a name but Martin called them SL 74 because they were made around that time. The upper is nylon and has ghilly lacing like on the SL 76 but the sole is hexagonal pattern microcell wedge which was used on the 'Runner' model. Adidas therefore really made two final products out of this prototype; - the SL 76 and the Runner.

It wouldn't have felt right to visit the archive and not get to see something Austrian made! These Mustang certainly made me feel better, all the more so because they are super rare, in fact only the third pair I have seen. They were manufactured in 1974 (as can be confirmed by the 'pre Trefoil' vinyl tongue) and were a sight to behold. The colourway will draw comparisons to the Mexicana but the sole is a 3 zone type and in black! Adidas didn't make enough training shoes with an all black sole, which is a shame because it finishes the look of shoes off so well.

I had seen the red pair in a previous archive picture from many years ago and the blue in a mid 60s French catalogue so I was certainly aware of their existence, but to see both together was amazing. The Kyoto are an extremely rare French shoe from around 1966, one of the first adidas models to be made of suede. The colours may draw comparison with Gazelle but the style is more like a suede version of 'Vienna' or 'Buda' (as they called it in France) with a wavy Olympia type sole and a rubber toe bump at the front of the shoe. As far as I know there was no direct German equivalent of these, unlike the Chamois which was known as Gazelle Blau in Germany and the Rubis which was Gazelle Rot. But the French catalogue code for Kyoto was #3252 which was latter used for the Mexicana model so I guess these morphed into Mexicana at a later date. The colour on these two models was simply stunning, particularly the reds which were so vivid. Interestingly the red and blue seemed to have slightly different finishes and feel, not sure if that was because they were made from two different types of suede or because one had aged less well than the other.

I saved my favourite until last. Runner circa 1976/77. It is unknown if this shoe was ever released in this CW. The traditional colour was yellow-blue, although some colour variations do exist, but these Runner are made from Nylon which is odd because Runner are normally a thick nylon mesh material. So they could be a sample or maybe they were made for a US University team (possibly USC) as a friend has some Texas State CW SL 72. Both adidas and Nike were making SMUs for university teams in their colours by request.

Well that was my archive visit, thanks to all at adidas who made it happen and were so welcoming, it is a day I will never forget and it definitely ticks one off my 'adi bucket' list.


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