Is This The Next Big Comeback Sneaker?

Photo: Courtesy of Adidas.
What will be the next sneaker trend to dominate street style photos (and our closets)? Move over, Stan Smiths. Adidas Originals is banking on a particular throwback style. The global sportswear brand's lifestyle-centric offshoot is going all in on its Gazelle heritage sneaker, with a relaunch and a nostalgic campaign featuring '90s Kate Moss, Business of Fashion reports.

This actually marks the second reissue of the Gazelle silhouette, according to Nic Galway, vice president of global design at Adidas Originals. The style originally made its debut in 1963 as an indoor soccer trainer. Two decades later, a slightly bulkier version more suited for lifestyle wear (versus truly athletic pursuits) hit the market, and gained cult status in grunge, dancehall, and Britpop scenes. This gap between releases has allowed for different generations to develop a unique affinity for the shoe, Galway told Business of Fashion. "We love the fact that every generation has taken the Gazelle and made it their own," he said. "Now we’re handing over the Gazelle to the next generation."

The latest revamp is closer to the '90s reproduction than the original, Galway explained to Refinery29, as it's "most relevant to today's consumer." The suede upper comes in an array of colors, with the brand's signature three stripes and heel tab standing out in crisp white. The shoe also features a honeycomb outside. The comeback factor might only happen stateside, as the style's popularity hasn't really waned in Europe, per GQ. This Gazelle launch, which was announced back in May, hit Adidas stores and online last week, each pair going for $80 a pop (and $85 for custom styles).
Photo: Courtesy of Adidas.
Kate Moss photographed by Denzil McNeelance in 1993 wearing Adidas Gazelles.
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"It’s the perfect time to reinstate this iconic model as the next big pillar within our classics portfolio alongside Stan and Superstar," Galway told Refinery29. "It has always been an iconic shoe for the brand, and has been appropriated by many subcultures over the decades." Given the sweeping popularity of Stan Smiths — 40 million pairs sold since the style was introduced in the '60s, per BoF — it's no surprise Adidas wants to tap into the nostalgia factor of its other retro offerings. There is something different about this comeback, though: Whereas the Stan Smith got an inadvertent boost from Phoebe Philo, Adidas is putting a considerate effort into which sneaker makes it big. It's a similar play to the one Adidas pulled with its Superstars, when it signed Pharrell to help bring back the longtime favorite (and longtime cool) sneaker. However, Alegra O'Hare, senior director of brand communications for Adidas Originals, tells us the Gazelle's history has long been about being accepted by a range of subcultures. "It’s not about targeting a specific audience but inspiring a new generation to adopt and challenge the status quo of our icons," she says.

These successful sneaker comeback schemes executed by Adidas Originals have worked thanks to hype (and social media), as Digiday reports, especially when it comes to big-name supporters. For its latest push, the Adidas Gazelle wisely has Moss in its corner: She was photographed in 1993 lounging in her scarlet-leather lace-ups (see above), and is working with the brand on the shoe's redux.

"With the relaunch of Gazelle, we looked to the original cultural references that defined the authenticity of the style," Galway said in a statement. So, for the official campaign, Adidas is bringing back that off-duty image of Moss — who identified herself as "an Adidas girl" through and through — with the help of Doug Abraham, who abstracted and cut up the image to create a collage effect (see below).
Photo: Courtesy of Adidas.
Denzil McNeelance's photograph of Kate Moss from 1993 remixed by Doug Abraham.
"[Abraham] is arguably the number-one name working in the new era of image reappropriation," O'Hare tells Refinery29. "Working as a visual commentator on fashion and pop culture, acting as an agitator, he reworks brand iconography and fuses it with images sourced on the internet, thus inventing a new space in which an alternate reality exists."

Will the Gazelle reach the ubiquity the Stan Smiths and Superstars have (re)attained over the past few years? With '90s-era Kate Moss, Instagram-approved artwork, and a nostalgic silhouette, it certainly has all the fixings for a fashion comeback. But we won't truly know until those Fashion Week street style snaps start happening come September...
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