Oi Polloi

Nigel’s Musings: The adidas Amsterdam

Published: Tue Jan 21 2020

The adidas Amsterdam is an ultra-rare three-striped beast from the hallowed City Series. With a much-hankered-for reissue landing at Oi Polloi on Friday the 24th of January, our resident trainer-sage Nigel dusted off his trusty quill to pen this soulful ode to the elusive brown shoe. Take it away Nige…

The funny thing about the City Series is that most of them aren’t sport shoes, they’re leisure shoes. It’s almost like they were designed to be collectable trainers. Alright, the Stockholm was a sports shoe, and so was the Dublin and the Athens, but the majority of them are leisure shoes. There were sporty colours, like the black and red of the London — but by the time Barcelona came along, it was a brown shoe with brown stripes and a brown sole… it was a leisure shoe.

The Amsterdam is a weird one because it sort of sits in two places — it’s in between those brown leisure shoes like the Hawaii, the Corsica or the Palermo, and then the City Series. I don’t know if that’s what made it more sought after, but for some reason it’s become one of the most sought after City Series shoes.

There’s two versions — the Odenwald sole (I’ve got no idea what that means) and then the one with the Dublin sole. And then within that there’s two or three variations of each, with different stickers on the tongue and all that sort of stuff.

The good thing about those brown suede shoes like the Amsterdam is that whilst most trainers were pretty loud or sporty, they cross over into that Desert Boot type thing. You could wear these brown beach shoes with cords or jeans.

Now sports companies come up with a new way to sell things every five minutes, but I still just want that 70s beach stuff. These brown suede shoes are the exact opposite of these over-futurised trainers which are around at the moment — they’re so far away from those things that they’re even better.

Back in the late 70s no one else was making this leisure stuff. Puma are the only ones who were doing anything like this, but they were just chasing adidas’s tail. You’d get the Puma Jeans trainers, which were blue trainers with blue stripes near enough exactly the same as the adidas jeans, but adidas were much, much bigger around the world.

Nike was a baby at that time — they didn’t really get going until a little later. Then you would have had Gola and Mitre and then obviously Converse, but they’re a different type of sports shoe entirely. And then Patrick, who would sometimes have names for their trainers that would sound a bit ‘leisure’, but they were just copying adidas too. Reebok was just running shoes up until the 80s when they did the Workout and all that.

adidas were big when nobody else was. Just look at their archive of three stripe trainers. I can’t think of anything else out there in the world that has that many variations. From cars to Smurfs, there’s nothing else out there with as many different versions. When I first heard about City Series, I think people thought there was maybe 30 or 40 pairs in it. But there’s about 12 different Roms for a start.

I don’t remember Amsterdam from back when it was first around. Dublin was the one people had heard of, and Amsterdam was about 30 times rarer. There were none of these in the UK. The only places anyone would have seen these kind of thing were in the weird sports shops in Germany. The only reason anyone saw City Series trainers in England at all is because these German sports shops would put them out on racks in pairs, and English lads would steal them. They’d fill their Head bags with City Series shoes.

Even then, the only ones to come back were the Dublin, the Koln and the Berlin, which would have been sold in Sports Box in the Underground Market back in the early 80s. But just through that shop and the memories that people have, this thing has been kind of invented. Everyone was wearing fat-soled chunky tennis shoes, not these flat, gum soled things. No one could get these City Series trainers - which is why they became the most sought after trainers in Manchester. They’re kind of a mythical thing which has come to life. Obviously adidas made these flat, gum soled shoes, but they weren’t really a ‘thing’ until people over here started wanting them.

It’s like the Hamburger. It was just a weird sandwich which came from Hamburg, but it went over to America and was put with some other stuff which you wouldn’t normally expect, and it became this other thing.

The adidas Amsterdam will be available from 23:00 (GMT) on Friday the 24th of January.