Oi Polloi

Nigel's Musings: the adidas LA Trainer

Published: Thu May 05 2016

I first saw the LA Trainer in Allsports in Stockport. They were the most expensive running shoes in there at the time. Back then, in the early 80s, the LA Trainer was adidas’s top line training shoe. They were such a good colour—navy blue and silver, with the red, white and blue pegs—they looked great with jeans. Everyone bought it, it was super popular. In fact they were almost too popular at one point.

Over the years they’ve been reissued, but the shape has never been quite right... the toe has been too long or too high, and the heel has been too flat. There have been millions of variations, and the majority have not been great. But the new reissue has brought it back to the original—you’ve got that navy suede, the silver, the cream sponge and the red, white and blue pegs. And they’ve reshaped the toe.

The toe on the originals was the most important thing. As with any kid today walking down the street looking for a pair of brand new running shoes — it’s the shape you look for. It’s got to be sharp, it’s almost like a Lockheed Blackbird or a racing car or a shark. The LA Trainer had it, and it lost it. But adidas have brought them back and I’m very excited about wearing them again.

And that’s the thing with these shoes. The midsoles on the originals were made out of polyurethane which goes all brittle and turns into a rubbery chalk, so you can’t wear them anymore. Some people are even removing the old midsoles, getting someone to make new ones and then putting the new midsole in the original upper.

In fact for the Spezial show in 2014, this was the only shoe that I was paranoid about giving them. I knew that if someone held them wrong then they’d all fall apart. On the last day of the show there was a girl passing me shoes out of the cabinet. She shouted over, “Nigel, are these your trainers?” and they all disintegrated in her hands. It was like she’d just picked up the Turin Shroud or some ancient artefact that was crumbling away.

Luckily that won’t happen with the new ones.

The adidas LA Trainer is available now.