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The revival of Adidas sportswear

Joining forces with designers such as Stella McCartney and paying tribute to sports stars including Stan Smith have helped Adidas create some of the best sportswear items of all time

Dionne Hélène
Dionne Hélène,

In recent years, Adidas hakans been leading the charge when it comes to blurring the lines between sportswear and fashion. The German label has always been a leading supplier of sports footwear and clothing, but it is its passion for innovation that has made the brand an internationally recognised industry pioneer.

Cult collaborations
Adidas’s fashion credentials are impressive; recent collaborators include establishment heavyweights such as Stella McCartney, Yohji Yamamoto, Raf Simons and Rick Owens, as well as Kolor’s Junichi Abe and hip-hop mogul Kanye West. Each has brought his or her own signature style to the partnership, which, combined with Adidas’s sportswear expertise, has resulted in something special. By incorporating the techniques and materials that each designer would favour on the catwalk, Adidas’s pieces have been elevated from the sportswear sphere to become highly desirable garments in their own right.

Practicality and simplicity lie at the heart of this evolution, ensuring that Adidas’s core values remain strong, whether the target is the street or the sports hall. The brand is proud of its ‘commitment to quality and passion for sport’, which ensures that every Adidas collection is tailored to provide comfort and performance wherever it is being worn.

With this in mind, the brand’s decision to work with some of the world’s most respected fashion designers is less surprising; Yohji Yamamoto, for instance, has worked with Adidas on its Y-3 line for more than a decade. Yamamoto is considered to be a master tailor, pushing fashion boundaries since the 1970s, and his bold, experimental designs for Adidas are no exception. The designer’s most celebrated silhouettes, including the Qasa, combine high-performance composite fabrics with vibrant uppers.

Daring design
The success of its Yamamoto collaboration has encouraged Adidas to take more risks with other avant-garde design talents. Rick Owens’ designs for the brand are considered the most experimental creations yet, incorporating clean monotone colour palettes and strong, fluid lines reminiscent of modern architecture. Owens’ work has attracted a new generation of sneaker fans who appreciate form and function as well as fashion.

Adidas has long championed the creation of garments that transcend traditional boundaries of what sportswear should look like. Stella McCartney is the designer who has done the most to help effect this change, especially in womenswear. Her design aesthetic is feminine, romantic and flattering. Fabrics that let the body breathe and move with ease are combined with striking, visually stimulating patterns to great effect.

Time-honoured heroes
Fashion often takes inspiration from the past, and Adidas has plenty of its own history to mine. The brand’s most renowned style, the Superstar, has become a timeless classic, beloved by sneaker enthusiasts and fashion editors alike. Created for playing basketball, the style was launched in the late 1960s and popularised by NBA legend Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. Its versatile design, suitable for wear both on and off court, was revolutionary.

Since then, the shoe has been reinvented several times over and even featured in a 1986 song by American hip-hop group Run-DMC called My Adidas. The members of the group were known for wearing only Adidas, and made history by becoming the first musical group to be officially endorsed by a sportswear brand.

The Superstar is surprisingly robust with a hardened shell-toe to provide additional protection. A design revamp in the 1980s brought the shoe to the attention of the skateboarding community, who were soon hooked by its tough exterior and the durability of its rubber outsole. The style has been reinvented again recently; Pharrell Williams teamed up with Adidas to create the Supercolor, an exclusive version of the Superstar available in 50 colours.

The Stan Smith is another classic style that has been adopted by the fashion community. Designed for its namesake, tennis player Stan Smith, to wear on court, the shoe has remained virtually unchanged since its release in the 1970s. The shoe’s understated aesthetic makes it a universal style staple which complements bold directional outfits as well as simpler everyday ensembles. Both it and the Superstar have been spotted on the front row at various fashion weeks.

The story of the Superstar and the Stan Smith demonstrates perfectly the way sportswear has evolved to become part of the luxury fashion sector. Sneakers are now regarded as an everyday wardrobe staple, and as Adidas continues to collaborate with the world’s finest fashion designers its clothing is acquiring a similar cachet, proving once and for all that style and substance aren’t mutually exclusive.



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