Oi Polloi

The Antiques Clothes Show: Nigel's adidas Jeans

Published: Wed Nov 25 2015

It's not long now until adidas bring back the infamous Jeans MkII trainer. To celebrate this momentous occasion, Nigel dusted off his originals for a trip down memory lane...

There have been a few shoes designed to go with jeans, like Kickers for example, but when adidas hit upon this idea to do a blue shoe that went with jeans, they just went ballistic. You had the 1975, all blue MkI Jeans, and then you had the more turquoise MkII Jeans with the front bumper and the heel bumper that came out in 1979. To a lot of people, the MkII Jeans was THE adidas Jeans — we’d never seen the first one.

I remember in 1984 nobody wanted them anymore; they wanted to look like Miami Vice with sandals and baggy cotton suits — not tracksuits, cagoules and trainers. But literally, two years later, everybody started to think about old, simple trainers again, because there were some really techy, over-the-top trainers around.

These over-the-top trainers didn’t really suit most people’s outfits. It didn’t matter if you were ‘a casual’ or what you were — trainers became so overly-designed that you couldn’t find any clothes to match them. So everyone started reminiscing about the old trainers that’d look good with a sweatshirt or a jumper, a nice coat and some jeans.

So yeah, when I started getting into simple trainers again in 1987, I remember realising that Jeans were a great shoe. But by that time you’d never see them, nobody bought them and none of the sports-shops sold them.

By the 90s, adidas had started doing reproductions of the MkI, but everyone was like, “What are these?” No one had seen the MkI — they must have been sold in posh shops in L.A. or jeans shops in Germany, ‘cos even the adidas experts had never seen them. But that’s all that adidas kept producing, this Starsky and Hutch shaped-shoe — we were like, “Why don’t they do the MkII?”

The adidas Jeans MkI

I got the MkI off eBay. They were £100 in 2003. I remember my nemesis Acid Bobby found them before I did, but he relinquished his time and effort and said, “Let Nige have them,” because they weren’t his size.

I got them and they were great and I was buzzing… but then I met this guy Gaz Smith. I went around his house and I saw this pair of Jeans MkII at the back. They were size 10, and I knew he was a size 8. So I was thinking, “They’re going to be too big for him. How can I get them?” I looked at them and the sole had hardly been worn.

The adidas Jeans MkII

The reason they’re so expensive and you never see them is because they were so good that people wanted to buy them to wear. It’s like a mod having suede Desert Boots, and not being able to wear them — you had to wear them because they were part of the uniform. People were obsessed with them and they wore them to death.

So I was like, “How the hell has this pair of shoes not been worn?”

He said, “Oh, my old boss had them. He used to do rally driving and they were only ever used for that. They were never worn outside.”

Anyway, probably a year later I found a pair of MkI Jeans on eBay in 8.5. I thought, “I’ve already got that shoe, but I wonder if Gaz will swap them?” So I bought ‘em, and a few weeks later, they turned up from America. I phoned him and he said, “Yeah brilliant, I’ll be down there. See you in half an hour.” I was panicking; my heart was going like I’d just won the lottery or something.

He turned up and he gave them to me. I just grabbed them and shoved them under the old chair. It’s the chair that we’ve got downstairs now. I just shoved them under there like I’d just killed a rabbit and put it in my poacher's pocket.

I knew they were hard to get but only later did I realise how hard. That’s the nice thing about the reissue, all the people who remember them will be able to wear them with pride. There’s a funny story actually about a guy from Longsight who moved to Dubai — he comes back once a year every year and asks the same thing… if anyone’s seen any adidas Jeans. I hope he gets a pair.

The red adidas Jeans MKII is available now.