These days, the latest releases and collaborations from German sportswear brand adidas are making headlines on a daily basis, especially here at Highsnobiety. Folding in a wave of collaborative partners like Kanye West, Palace Skateboards, and most recently Kendall Jenner, the brand has successfully captured the attention of thousands of sneakerheads, and many would concede that adidas has recently pulled just ahead of its main competitor, Nike, in the ongoing footrace between the two brands.
But adidas collector @dasslersfinest is far more taken with a different era of the brand's history. With a collection of several hundred pairs, USA-based Julian is strictly interested in nostalgic, throwback models, and sneakers like the Gazelle and Samba that he first discovered in his younger years.
Below, we speak with Julian about his impressive adidas collection, and take a look at some of the standout pairs in his closet.
When did your interest in adidas begin?
My interest started at an early age, probably around eight or nine. adidas was the dominant sportswear company at the time and offered the most variety, from shoes to accessories to sporting equipment. adidas was also worn by the most influential athletes, like footballers at the time, and by the people where I grew up.
How big is your collection?
I have never actually counted each item. A guess would be 500?
What are some of your favorite models?
Some of my favorite models are the Handball Spezial, Forest Hills, SL 80, Olympia S, Columbia, Palermo, and Denver. These are all models I owned as a kid and have a special affinity for.
What are some of the more rare or expensive sneakers in your collection?
I have a couple of pairs that are reasonably rare. I prefer new or "mint-condition" items, so the fact that some pairs are brand new with the original box probably adds to their rarity.
First would probably be the adidas Mexicana from around 1970. My pair was made for the University of Texas athletic department, and are in a color that was not available for general sale. They were made in the team colors of the university, which is burnt orange. Originally, they were owned by a staff member who donated them to a charity shop.
Also the adidas Haillet Smith. My pair is from the mid '70s when the Haillet shoe was in transition to becoming the Stan Smith model as we know it today. Not long after this model, the "Haillet" name was dropped and it became the Stan Smith shoe.
Where do you usually look for and find the shoes you purchase?
The internet mainly. I sometimes trade with others, or with people who contact me with items.
Your collection includes quite a few Spezial models, what do you find interesting about the Spezial range?
The Handball Spezial was my first truly expensive purchase from, so it holds certain memories. I was on a trip to Denmark and all the lads I was with were buying trainers that you can't find in the UK. I bought the classic blue model and it's been a favorite of mine ever since. The original model has a silhouette that I find simplistic and elegant, and the contrasting gum sole adds to its appeal. The quality of the materials on the original models is very high. The shape changed in the 2000s and the toe box area became a little chunky, so I do prefer earlier models.
What are your impressions of contemporary adidas footwear products? For example YEEZY and Palace collaborations, or Boost sneakers?
I certainly understand the need to innovate, create, and widen product lines, after all it's a business. The above mentioned hold little interest to me as I prefer models from a different era. I do like the Iniki, as it's inspired by the classic '80s nylon runners that adidas produced in abundance, and has the added element of new technology comfort. I have quite a few nylon '80s models in my collection, and I love their simplicity. I play around with models myself, changing uppers, colours, and soles. I post them on my Instagram page every now and again. I've added some of the newer sole units to older models to see what they'd look like (Boost and NMD particularly) adidas has so many many models from the past, that I wouldn't be surprised to see more hybrids in the future.
Many sneaker collectors these days are liquidating their collections, is selling your collection something you would consider?
I have no intention of liquidating, collecting is something I enjoy doing and have done for many years. I also enjoy photography, so they have become a subject for me to incorporate into that hobby.
Which recent adidas releases have caught your interest, if any? Maybe the recent made-in-Germany Sambas?
I have the made-in-Germany Hamburg, and the made-in-France Superstar from a few years ago. They are both well made and high quality releases. With regards to the Samba, there are so many variations of the shoe, as it was originally released in the 1950s. I prefer the model that was prevalent in the UK during the '70s and '80s, rather than the current German-made gum sole model. I have a French pair from around 1974 that are black with yellow stripes. Collectors or Samba fans out there will know which one I mean.
There are a few other releases I have purchased recently, like the adidas Bermuda, and I had a couple of miadidas Spezial made.
Do you wear your collection or keep everything deadstock?
I have a separate fleet of models I wear. The collection stays as I purchased it.
I probably have around 30 or so pairs that I do wear. Because I wear them sparingly, they remain in good condition. These are usually what's on my feet. Early 2000s Forest Hills and Grandslam, 2009 TRX (a favorite of mine, as the colors are striking. Blue with neon yellow stripes) 2008 Stan Smith 80s, various PUMA Suedes, some Diadoras, adidas Nite Jogger, various Gazelles, adidas Consortium Kegler from 2007, and the recent Samoa Vintage model.
What’s the most you paid for a pair of sneakers?
Most of my vintage pairs have been acquired for reasonable amounts, many for less than $100, and some for less than $20. It's not often that I'll pay a lot these days, and only for a few select models. My wish list is quite small now. The Haillet Smith or Munchen 72 were probably the most expensive, somewhere in the $400 range, if memory serves me correctly.
Now meet the adidas collector with more pairs of Stan Smiths than Stan Smith himself.