5 Classic Trainers

by | Fashion | 11 comments

For me, football’s never been about supporting a team I’ll never see in the flesh, who spend sums of money I can’t conceive of, on players I don’t care about.

Football’s never been a vehicle for me to prove I’m better than you because my billionaire chairman is willing to spend more money than your billionaire chairman.

Going to the football has never just been about watching eleven guys in red kicking a ball around.

Football’s always been about the culture, the things that mean even when the game’s shite there’s still a good reason for going to the match.

Music, clothes, trainers and football. They’re always been inextricably linked in my mind. Each enriches the other. I like them them and I like speaking about them. We caught up with some liked-minded souls and asked them about their all-time favourite trainers.

Peter O’Toole: Illustrator

Peter O’Toole is a freelance illustrator & graphic designer who has worked with the likes of Nike, Clarks Originals and Casual Co.

Pete also had the privilege of designing his own trainer when he collaborated on a firm Unmodern Man favourite: the adidas Consortium Quotoole , a stunning re-imagining of the classic ZX 420.

By night, Pete is a Huddersfield Town fan and it’s safe to say he’s a wee bit excited for their first appearance in this season’s top flight.

My favourite shoe of all time has to be the 2005 issue adidas Hawaii.

I know what your thinking, yes I’m an OG fan too, but my choice is based on style and comfort; fashion and function. You can’t traipse around London in a pair of OG adidas without getting your feet cut to shreds or your soles coming unstuck. A lot of shoes I’ve been into since I started collecting a few years before this incarnation of the Hawaii model came out were of the ‘flat- footed’ variety; a casual staple. For me the Hawaii epitomises a great OG shape with added modern comforts.

What’s more, this shoe is scorchingly well rendered.Great quality suede, really nice ‘globe’ style Freizeit label under the tongue and -true to the OG style- a gold foil sticker with the shoe size on the insole. The devil really was in the detail.  

Upon release I originally opted for the pale blue version, quickly snapping them up from Sneakersandstuff but their ability to attract dirt and my ability to walk home from a night out through muddy fields made them impossible to wear. Instead  I sourced the more common brown colourway. This colourway goes with almost anything; though they look majestic with a pair of beige corduroys (not a phrase I thought would enter my vocabulary before I was 65).

I had just turned 20 when this shoe came out and I was full of enthusiasm for casual and trainer culture. At that time you could still raid stock rooms of old sports shops for vintage models; you could still pick up a pair of 1991 baby blue Gazelles with no laces on eBay for a tenner.

As the years advance, I went to art college for two years, University for three more, moved out of my parents house, rented with my girlfriend, started a business, got a mortgage, got married and had kids.

In those intervening years the trainer culture went from a niche subculture to a global phenomenon. The appeal of adidas models in the UK went through the roof: the 2008 re-issues of the London, Dublin and Stockholm were massive and by 2009, when The Firm re-make and Awaydays were released, their popularity was at fever pitch. Casual culture had spawned a new generation.

People I had known locally for years, whose interest never went further than wearing what everyone else was wearing, started collecting and it was at this point I began to fall in and out of  love with the trainer culture. As a student, when I needed more money than what my two days a week Morrison’s wage could give me, I sold more than a few pairs of trainers off. But the Hawaii stayed put throughout. 

The enduring appeal of the Hawaii isn’t just about the look and the comfort, it’s also the fact I view them like a time capsule. A window to a time before fear and responsibility, before I knew what lay ahead. A time before you could log on to Facebook and part with the obscene amounts of cash to get the rarest adidas collection. A time where you actually had to hunt for and track things down.

My trainer collecting days are over now, you’re more likely going to see me spending money on fixing a leaking pipe or a new set of car mats; I’m old and boring. But I still have a small collection that I treasure, and I still love it when I walk in to a room full of adidas trainers, and no one is wearing the pair that I’ve got on.”

Brendan Wyatt: Transalpino

Founded in 2005, Liverpool store Transalpino quickly established itself as the UK’s No 1 deadstock trainer shop. Owner Brendan Wyatt, whose love affair with trainers began in the 80’s while following Liverpool and Everton around Europe, still travels the globe in search of the rarest stock.

Being a retailer that specialises is adidas trainers I’d probably be expected to name a pair of 3 stripes as my favourite and in that case they’d be the SL80, but that would be too obvious…

I’m gonna go for a pair of Mitre.

Mitre might be an undesired brand now but around 1977/78 the Mitre Memphis, and its cheaper stablemate the Munich, were a much sought after shoe around the schools of Merseyside.

These were the days before lads had started jumping aboard the Transalpino Express and bringing back the likes of Forest Hills and Trimm Trabs from foreign shores.

Back then you could count on two hands the styles that were available to an ever-growing market of kids saving their pocket money or harassing their parents for a new pair of ‘trainees’. Evolving from the staple diet of Kickers, Pod and Polyvelts, young scousers were now being seen in Gola (Aztec & Cobra) and of course loads of adidas:  Samba, Mamba and Bamba, and Kick for the younger kids.

Also available were Gazelles, Nastase and Stan Smiths but for me the Mitre Memphis were the crème de la crème for a period.

An all-black trainer with a gum sole which were allowed in most schools and also favoured by the older lads who could wear them in night clubs.

In retrospect you can compare the Memphis to the much more well known Samba Super but back then they were quite unique and of their time. I’m not sure if they were just a Liverpool thing but lads of a certain age will look back at the Mitre Memphis as a blinding trainer in the days before the brand was eclipsed by the likes of adidas, Patrick, Diadora and Nike.”

Mark Godfrey: The Football Pink

Mark Godfrey is an Evertonian with a love for old football shirts and stickers. He is the founder and editor of The Football Pink website and fanzine.

When asked to name my favourite trainers, it should be pretty taxing for a man almost 41-years-old to recall one pair in particular, given the amount he’s gone through in his lifetime. I, however, had no such difficulty.

Are they the yellow and grey Reebok Royales that were undoubtedly the most comfortable footwear I’ve slipped onto the old plates of meat that acted as a substitute for running spikes when I was a reasonably good athlete? No.

Or the iconic Adidas Samba that helped me swagger through the Britpop years? No.

You can also forget Nike Air Max I had in Sixth Form and the Hi-Tec Mexico that were my first real branded pair of trainers when I was about 10.

For my stand out trainers I have to go back to 1989. I was 13-years-old, quite a handsome and popular young lad, if I do say so myself, and going through shoes like they were going out of fashion; which, coincidentally, they seemed to do pretty quickly – meaning you had to get a new pair every 6 weeks or so. The trainers in question are Adidas Rochester.

Running shoes for the discerning punter I would call them, rather than the kind of thing that you scuff the shit out of playing football in the school yard. But these were extra classy. No one else had them; I saw them in the local sports shop and knew instantly I had to have them. They didn’t come cheap – £50 if I recall correctly. But my dad was doing alright for himself and at that time didn’t seem to refuse me much if I asked politely enough for them.

Ultimately, I have no idea if they enhanced my image to others or not. They certainly made me feel cooler, and is that not the real purpose of any pair of trainers?”

Iain Trickett: TRiCKETT England

Iain Trickett is owner and creator of the Accrington-based label TRiCKETT. Their eclectic product line, which ranges from socks and t-shirts to soap and tea, has two overarching themes: sporting heritage influences and a dedication to high quality. 

It’s OK, I know it is a bit of a shock to see the mighty swoosh in this article, but when you are a lad from Accrington, going to the football with your adidas obsessed friends, something that represents your interests of West Coast hip-hop and basketball appeals much more than trainers people used to play handball in.

By no means the most complex shoe in the world: 10 panels of white leather, polyester lining fabric, white laces, binding, an insole and a full length concealed air sole unit. Also, if we are being honest, after about 3 wears they start to look a bit knackered and the toe box crumples after the first wear. However, when you are a chubby kid from Accy, these shoes represented an alternative to a uniform that people’s dads were wearing. I knew that Vince Carter and Dr. Dre were wearing them and that was all that mattered. That and the fact Keith from Burnley wasn’t, that also appealed greatly.

Ace with shorts, jeans, trousers or whatever leg coverings you wear, the chunky sole unit of the shoe lends itself to any occasion. Non of this slim, low profile stuff for me like. The all white shoe can take you anywhere and really has taken me (I have a box fresh pair from 2003 just waiting for summer). So get yourself a pair, lace up your ones, put some Dr. Dre ‘Chronic 2001’ on and relax, they will change your life. 

West Coast.”

The Unmodern Man Choice


“My love affair with The Brand with The 3 Stripes has lasted longer than most marriages and while my head has been turned on occasion by the likes of Nike and Diadora, ultimately they’ve been short-lived flings, brief dalliances before I returned to my first love.

I dread to think how many pairs of adidas I’ve gone through over the years. Despite my uncanny knack of attracting more dirt than your average 4 year old, I’ve always been a sucker for light colourways, meaning new pairs have always had an eye-wateringly short lifespan. 

My favourite pair was always going to come from the golden period of re-releases that adidas had during the first decade of this century. These were the days before a re-issue meant huge runs of substandard quality shoes being pumped out in every colourway imaginable; before the hype-beasts took over and you could bag limited edition shoes without queuing outside Hanon for 3 days.

The 2008 editions of Stockholm and Grand Slam Tournament Edition were both great examples of how to do a great quality, limited re-release. 

Ultimately, I’ve gone with the 2004 edition of Indoor Super as my all-time favourite. The build quality on these was absolutely superb and the detailing was top notch: from the unique gum outsole to the perforation and stitching on the suede uppers. Originally designed for the squash courts but they look just as good with a nice pair of selvedge. Even the red, white and blue colourway couldn’t put me off.”