adidas Originals Archive News – An Interview with Neal Heard
For the Dragon issue of adidas Originals Archive News, we caught up with author, avid trainer collector and proud Welshman Neal Heard to talk adidas reissues, how size? is introducing classics to a new generation of fanatics, and a summer that will be remembered for another set of red and green dragons.
How did you first get into trainers, and the world of trainer collectors? I’m a child of the ‘80s football terraces, so I grew up around original trainer lovers. Contrary to the myth, much of the popularity of trainers in the UK had little to do with hip-hop and New York. The love was forged on cold damp train stations and at fortress grounds, where you were as interested in what the other team’s ‘dressers’ were wearing as you were in the game on the pitch. Around 1992 my pal and fellow Newportonian, Fraser Moss, who founded You Must Create (YMC), was searching for deadstock to supply the Japanese markets as well as places like The Duffer of St George. Knowing I was an old footy boy, who obviously loved trainers, he grabbed me along for some trips and, from there, it grew into a living. Ultimately that led me along the path to both authoring the book and meeting lots of collectors/trainer lovers.
What does adidas mean to you as a brand, and in particular the archive of footwear they have?
Being an old footy head it’s almost a prerequisite to love the three stripes, and with damn good reason too. If you think that Adi Dassler provided 700 footwear patents, and was the first non- American inducted into the US Sporting Goods Industry Hall of Fame, you get the picture. Quite frankly, there is no better archive to have than the adidas archive.
size?, along with adidas Originals, are releasing old silhouettes to a new, younger generation through the Archive series. How do you feel about seeing new versions of some of the classics?
To be honest I think it’s great. Being slightly older (ahem) you can kinda take your knowledge for granted, but the fact that models which may be unfamiliar to a younger generation are being reintroduced is a good thing, both for the brands and also for the young trainer heads themselves. It should start them digging for knowledge, not only about the shoes and brands, but also about style and design too. It’s not all about rappers and hype kids! It’s great to see the older models being reissued, especially when in the hands of somebody like size? who have a long history of protecting and preserving our trainer heritage...
What do you think it is about the UK, trainers and adidas’ archive that is so special, ahead of other brands?
The thing which strikes me is the bond between adidas and the UK. It’s so strong that you would swear the brand was British. With the advent of the ‘international sneaker scene’, I think that adidas has been rediscovered by our continental cousins. However, we were 30 years ahead of them, and the knowledge and the passion for the brand in the UK is phenomenal.
The adidas Dragon is back this summer in a couple of very Welsh colourways, what do you make of this release?
It’s a shoe I forever associate with the ‘70s, and the fact they are in Welsh colours AND are carrying the Dragon moniker make it a perfect time to celebrate the Euro heroics of Wales and to re-release a sometimes under-appreciated shoe.