ADIDAS ROAD TRIP: G is for Gazelle

Taken from our archive we are back on our road trip and the gazelle is up next. The bread and butter of Adidas trainers, like the simplicity or hate the rinse and repeat, the gazelle an icon and deserves respect.

There was only so far that articles about classic Adidas trainers could go before we had to delve into the world of the Gazelle. The Gazelle boasts so many releases that it quite literally is the “World of the Gazelle.” If you were to start now and only collect Gazelle’s you could spend a fair amount of cash and build up a huge collection pretty much straight away such is the extent of Gazelle releases.

Many hardcore collectors will turn their noses up at another Gazelle, they aren’t really special anymore, and the re-run of multiple colourways is beginning to become Adidas’ way of life. With trainers such as the Stan Smith, Munchen, Jeans etc getting he same treatment. However the Gazelle undeniably holds relevance. For many it is their path into the world of collecting Adidas trainers. Age 12 it was my first pair of stripes. Blue and Yellow Gazelle’s I saved up the money for after seeing fans of the local football club sporting similar. I remember leaving the ground at half-time with my dad so he could have a smoke and the floor was filled with three stripes. It was from their that the admiration started really. Why does the Gazelle deserve a place in the Archive? In recent years the Gazelle has been the product under the knife by the Adidas PR  team, re-energising the trainer to what we know it as today. In this Adidas world the Gazelle is seen as an innovator, and inspiration for many to come. The earliest Gazelle was created in 1966, and it took elements from the 1960’s Rom, which was made for the 1960 Rome Olympics, and the German favourite the 1964 Olympiade. The Olympiade boasted groundbreaking technology for the time, being one of the first Adidas models to have a pull tab on the heel. In 1966 when Adidas upgraded and created the Gazelle, it was a small revolution, suede dominating trainers were an uncommon sight and was only available on two Gazelle colourways. Bright stripes overlaying suede paved the way for many trainers to come, including so many releases that we know and love today. The Gazelle was the first to display this trait. The earliest Gazelle was designed to suit a purpose. The 1966 Gazelle Blue was a training shoe. It had a padded ankle, Kangaroo upper and provided Arch support.

The Gazelle red was made for Handball, it displayed a completely different out sole to its blue companion.

By 1972 The Gazelle had already changed somewhat. The Outer sole of the Red had now been changed to match that of the blue, and the Gazelle was in for some Olympic controversy. Olympic Champion Swimmer Mark Spitz took 7 medals at the 1972 Munich games, and celebrated his win in the 200m freestyle by holding aloft his Adidas Gazelle’s, some product placement which was not welcomed by the Olympic board. After 1972 the Gazelle seemed to become drowned out amongst trainers like the Athen, and the Jaguar. The Jaguar didn’t last too long however and towards the end of the 1970’s the Gazelle was back. By 1979 Adidas were working on the ‘Special’ concept where trainers were given a bit of a spruce up so that they could still contend with later releases which had been created using an advancement in technology. So cam the Gazelle Super, another Handball inspired trainer. In the late 1970’s and early 1980’s Subculture in England made Gazelle’s the sought after trainer. Adidas enthusiast and SPZL developer Gary Aspden said “everyone chased the Gazelle” as he branded alternatives like the Monaco and Samoa as “the poor mans Gazelle” A more surprising route that the Gazelle then took was its dive into the World of Hip Hop. As Hip Hop was rising and becoming more familiar in Europe after America, The Gazelle became the trainer of choice, becoming a popular training shoe amongst Basketball fans, it was a popular choice until the later releases of the Adidas Superstar or Campus. An unusual route for Adidas trainers to take but another iconic image in the Gazelle’s journey. The more recent revolution of the Gazelle came in the 1990’s with the Brit pop era. Brit pop had a huge influence on fashion, music, attitudes to teenagers, it had the lot.

When Bands like Oasis and Blur began dominating the Airwaves, everyone went crazy to dress in the Brit Pop style. Classic Sports brands were rinsed for various track tops, trainers and accessories, somewhat popularising the Casual subculture which began in the late 70’s, but with a twist. Influences like the Gallagher brothers now wearing Gazelles helped turn them from sports trainers to day to day fashionable 90’s shoes. The appeal didn’t stop at men and Women who loved Oasis or the roses and Brit Pop music, it extended to Super Models and beyond, the Gazelle took over.

The Gazelle was then refined and reissued year upon year until 2016 marked the beginning of change. PR drove the Gazelle to what we see today. One of the most popular worldwide trainers, with many re-issues each season, with little variation other than colourway, and the Gazelle Super which looks respectively different. Its been a long journey for the Gazelle, but boy at times has it been a successful one. If these trainers could talk there would be a fair few stories to tell. Instead, the Gazelle gets somewhat miss treated for how common it has now become, and maybe it deserves a bit more credit than its given.

It is no doubt an icon, and we’re sure to see many more in the future, it seems to have become the ever present trainer, and to be fair, there are far worse trainers out there. Let me know your thoughts on the Gazelle on Twitter @Original_Sole_

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