Many of adidas‘ most iconic shoes have transcended their roots in sports equipment to be embraced in fashion. Shoes like the Stan Smith, Superstar, and Ozweego are perhaps the best examples of products that blur the line between sports and lifestyle.

In 1996, the original Ozweego was introduced by adidas. According to the brand’s archive, a multitude of Ozweego iterations were released throughout the 1990s, featuring proprietary tech like adiPRENE cushioning, and Torsion sole support.

The original brief for the Ozweego was updated over time, and following the inaugural model, successors arrived in the form of the Ozweego 2, 3 and 4.

The original Ozweego landed in July 1996 as a lightweight running shoe for training and competition, with adiPRENE cushioning in the forefoot. Between 1997 and 1998, the Ozweego 2 took over, retaining adiPRENE but with a slightly updated upper. From 1998 to 1999, the Ozweego 3 arrived with the addition of Torsion in the midsole. Lastly, the final Ozweego 4 was on shelves between 1999 and 2000 as a culmination of the best of the previous models.

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(Above, adidas Ozweego 3, circa August 1998)

15 years later in 2013, Raf Simons re-imagined the silhouette, creating a seminal product that was phenomenally successful, setting the tone for the next years of sneaker designs to become chunky and overstated. In August 2017, stylist Taylor Okata spoke to Highsnobiety about the trend of chunky sneakers at large. “For me, [chunky sneakers] started with the adidas by Raf Simons Ozweego 1 in 2013,” he said. “I knew it would become a larger trend when I saw the evolution of the collaboration. Soles got chunkier, details were more graphic and color combinations got brighter.”

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(Above, adidas Ozweego 3, circa January 1999)

Factoring nostalgia into sneaker culture is not an exact science, but 1990s sneaker aesthetics have resurfaced to become a significant part of the conversation over the past few years, not limited to other adidas models from the period, like the recently re-introduced 1990 Torsion Edberg Comp or 1994 Lexicon.

Today, adidas is in a position to reach into its vast product archive, not only to faithfully recreate sneakers as they were decades ago, but also to reference past products and re-imagine them as contemporary designs. adidas’ design language from 2019 could later inspire products 30 years in the future, continuing the pendulum-like cycle of nostalgia. Speaking on the adidas archive, Global SVP of Design for adidas Originals & Style Nic Galway told Highsnobiety, “The archive for us is more than just shoes from the past – it represents moments in time, people we’ve met and connections we have made. This links back to our collective memory which inspires our design and the way we are as a brand today. Without it, we would not connect to culture in such a meaningful way.”

For summer 2019, adidas ushers in the next chapter, presenting an in-line sneaker based on the Ozweego 3, this time without Raf Simons as a collaborative partner. Faithful to original, today’s Ozweego model features a classic mesh, suede, and TPU construction for the upper. The throwback colorway features Solar Yellow and blue accents, calling back to the era’s signature palette.

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The 2019 adidas Originals Ozweego is available now via adidas.com.

Vancouver-born, Berlin-based writer, photographer and editor with a steady hand on the keyboard.

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