Cast your mind back to the glorious 80s. Basketball is doing big business, and everyone and their mothers wants a piece of the leathery pie. adidas, having conquered just about every sport there is, is no exception, and spilled onto the courts like Jack Nicholson’s chilli in the mid-80s with the Rivalry High, a high-topped basketball shoe that was, for a time, considering the peak of b-ball shoe technology and design.
But that’s not why we’re into them.
See, far away from the well-buffered floors of the America’s NBA stadiums, the Rivalry became a major ingredient in the unofficial of the uniform budding thrash rockers in the cluttered garages and post-industrial wastelands of England. These long-locked teeth-grinders swerved the hairspray and tight, tiger-print pants of glam and hair metal bands in favour of what they could realistically get their hands on – washed-out jeans, battered leather jackets, white basketball shoes.
So yeah, before we headbang straight into a full-blown history lesson, this photoshoot thing was inspired by those rageful forebearers of thrash. Scroll down, take a look, and HIT THE LIGHTS!
Gary Aspden and friends have once again taken their rightful place behind the proverbial lecture hall lectern, primed to take us on another wearable trip into the annals of three-striped history.
What will they cover in this semester? Well, on the clobber front there’s a zestily-hued mountain parka, a tortoise-throated sweat that looks like the kind of thing you’d pick up from Hurley’s way back when, and a classy, long-sleeved polo named after Spezial right-hand-man Mike Chetcuti.
And on the footwear side of things, you’ll find chunky brown leisure shoes, the Hochelaga – a gum-soled beaut that’s based on the Montreal (‘Hochelaga’ was a St. Lawrence Iroquois settlement where the great city of Montreal now stands, in case you were wondering) – and a denim iteration of the majestic Italia.
It all goes online at 08:00am (GMT) on Friday the 10th of February, and there’ll be some in our Manchester outpost too, which opens at 10:00am. Until then, enjoy these photos…
08:00am (GMT). Friday the 10th of February. Be there or be square.
Back in 2013 when Gary Aspden wanted to release his new adidas range Spezial, he asked if we would like to launch it with him. He said we could do a colour up of one of his shoes and he was making the California of which I had an original version. My California was used on shaping the Topanga (the new name for California due to trademarking issues). California is one of my favourite shoes so that’s why I did a an Oi Polloi version of it which, to cut a long story short, became the Ardwick.
We did consider Ancoats for the name of the shoe but Ardwick seemed to make more sense as there was a connection to the time when I first ever saw a Perry Boy. He walking past Ardwick Green in the mid 70s. Then, as I thought about it more, it made even more sense. Back then, Ardwick Green had all these big houses where some rich people who had earned their wealth from the Industrial Revolution in Manchester chose to live. Ardwick – the Hollywood, California of Cottonopolis, Manchester. These days Ardwick isn’t the affluent area it used to be. With terrace culture sometimes being seen as working class, as well as our name being Oi Polloi which is Greek and translates to ‘the people’, meaning everybody, inclusivity, it all just just felt right.
The final Ardwick was of course a one colour green shoe (with a black sole). I collect all sorts of adidas, runners, some football trainers or casual stuff and quite a lot of leisure shoes as well. Some of the bright shoes are what adidas are known for, remembered for, loved for. However, the all one colour shoe, is an easy one to put with an outfit and wear. Some of my favourite adidas such as Tahiti, Hawaii, Samoa, Bermuda – they’re all a one colour flavour. However, there’s not very many green ones. I love green stuff, it’s always been a big colour for Oi Polloi.
So, although the final representation of Ardwick was fully green, one of the early samples was beige with green stripes and a black sole. I think this colour was just in my head at the time, it came from the sister shoe to the California — the adidas Florida. The Florida was beige with tan stripes. I don’t have a pair (and I’m still desperate for some), so I wanted to create something like it. Then, I got thinking… what would it look like with green stripes instead of tan stripes?
The only adidas shoe that’s ever come out in that colour combo as far as I’m aware is the Equipment Torsion Adventure, at least I think it was called that. The 90s adidas Equipment stuff was black, green and white but there was a sort of outdoor / lifestyle range within the Equipment collection using a black, beige and green colour palette. Anyway we sampled the Ardwick in this colour but it never went to production.
The Lotherton SPZL, apart from the toe box, is close to that original Ardwick sample. adidas SPZL is so important to Oi Polloi and so important to a group of our customers so I’m happy to see this Lotherton SPZL shoe, it reminds me of how good that Ardwick sample was in the first place.
The adidas Zurro SPZL is a great shoe. It’s inspired by the Azurro, but doesn’t feature the pink Stripes that the OG has. It’s similar to the Hurricane Olympic shoe and very similar to a Montreal Super 76 too, which is very rare shoe – I know one guy who’s got a pair and he’s got a ridiculously amazing adidas collection.
Montreal is a strange name because adidas made more shoes with the name Montreal than any other I think, there’s absolutely loads of them. There’s Montreals that look like Stockholms, there’s Montreal runners that look like ZXs. The 1976 Olympics were held in Montreal and I think advertising, logos, copyright, trademark laws, all sorts was just popping off around that period of time. Whatever it was, obviously something big happened for adidas at the Olympic Games that year and they gave many shoes the name Montreal. Despite all these great adidas Montreals, the Montreal Super 76 is kind of like the daddy of them all, that Super 76 was the one. It might have been down to the stripes in the sole – just like this new Zurro SPZL. You don’t see that often, do you?
The adidas Training 76 SPZL reminds me a lot of the Japanese version of the adidas Berlin as well as the adidas Record. This adidas shape is very much like most of the shoes that the 70s sports stars would have worn. Its looks like an early 70s shape but I imagine the 76 in the name comes from the fact that this shape was really popular through the entire 70s decade and for good reason. They are a super slim cut which Mods and Northern Soul guys should flip over because both of these guys were wearing that shoe in the 70s. I guess that’s the point, the over-arching theme for this season’s Spezial is Northern Soul, isn’t it?
Now this Ashurst SPZL is a very, very good running shoe with real ZX flavour. It’s a great version of the adidas Sydney from the City Series. An amazing colourway too which is spot on and true to the OG colourway.
The original Sydney is so rare, I only know one guy who has a Sydney but its not even in this OG colour. I’ll be grabbing all of these.