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The Blog from Oi Polloi presents: by Nigel Lawson •

The new wave of adidas Spezial stuff launches at 23:00 on Thursday the 20th of June. To give us a bit of context, we asked our resident adidas obsessive Nigel to tell us a bit more about the trainers…

The Galaxy

I think the Galaxy came out in 1984. It was a wide, chunky tennis shoe in the same vein as the Columbia and the Harvard. To me, it looks like a space shuttle – it’s even got the same colours as a space shuttle!

The Stan Smith was big in the late 70s, but by the early 80s everyone had chunky tennis shoes on. Everyone now thinks that everyone back then was wearing things like Koln and Dublin and these flat soled shoes, but in the scheme of things, no one wore them. That 'scruff' look of semi-flared cords and a pair of Dublins was a very niche thing. To be honest, hardly anyone knew what Dublins were until the internet came along, whereas these Galaxys were a hit all over the world.

People were already wearing Forest Hills and Grand Slams, and then the Galaxy came along and it was a bit more chunky and jacked-up at the back. It was plain one-upmanship. Personally I didn’t like them at the time – I wanted linen suits and sandals – but it was an absolute smash. People would wear them with baggy Ball jeans or some stonewashed Lee jeans, a striped Benetton rugby shirt and long hair at the back like Chris Waddle.

People did used to bother with the pegs at the back – but not for any comfort benefits – people would just change them around to make them look better. A lot of people would have the three white ones in there. At the time, this was our air bubble. It was adidas’s visual technology that helped them sell trainers… and it really worked. That’s not to say they actually worked for what it was supposed to do – but people loved the idea of it. People wanted the latest thing. 

The Silver Birch

The Silver Birch is based on the Denver. The Denver is pretty unknown. I think they came out around 1985 or 1986, and they sit with all those running shoes like New York, Boston, Dallas, L.A. and Oregon.

The New York and the Oregon were the famous shoes of that period, but the Denver was one of those that slipped through the net. By the mid-80s, people weren’t really bothered about running shoes. It would just strictly be runners who’d be wearing them.

But then with Instagram, the Denver is one that people have spotted and gone, “What’s that?” It’s one of those things where you think, “Where was that back then? I would have loved a pair of them.” It’s almost like rewriting history.

The Earlham

The Earlham is a classic-looking tennis shoe. It’s a Stan Smith sole, with a customised Grand Prix upper. Grand Prix was a shoe that sat with the 1981 Forest Hills and one of the Lendls – I can’t remember which. It’s low-cut, with a very low-profile – it’s really close and flat to the floor. I just wish they were called the Irlam instead of Earlham – but they’re not.

Obviously compared to the later, wider tennis shoes like the Galaxy, things like the Grand Prix and the Stan Smith were seen as slim – but when people first started wearing them, they were seen as the fat, chunky shoes. You’ve got to remember that before that tennis players were wearing little canvas pumps and Bruce Lee plimsolls.

The thing to remember with all this is that there was never just one pair of trainers that everyone wore. It’s like today – you’ve got lads out there who want a nice simple pair navy Vans, and then there’s lads out there who want Balenciagas. It wasn’t like, “This is the only thing that is in fashion.” Even in times when you couldn’t buy much, there were grades between one thing to the next.

adidas Spezial launches at launches at 23:00 on Thursday the 20th of June. See it here... 

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