A conversation with avid adidas collector Bobby McCarten
Bobby McCarten has been an avid adi collector for 19 years. His prized collection has been displayed in some of the UK’s best trainer exhibitions, and features a vast range of adi’s most coveted silhouettes that date as far back as the ‘50s. We caught up with Bobby to shine a light on his stash and love for the 3-Stripes.
First things first, could you tell us a little about who you are.
Hello, I'm Bobby Mac. I have around 850–900 pairs of adidas shoes and my collection has been displayed in some outstanding exhibitions including the Manchester Spezial, London ZX Roots of Running, Blackburn Spezial and at Liverpool’s Laces Out. My trainers date from the late 1950s to samples that are due to be released in the near future!
How long have you been into adidas and what was your first intro to the brand?
My first intro to adidas goes way back to when I was growing up in the 1970s. I remember watching the Olympics and the World Cup on the telly. All the winners seemed to be wearing the 3 Stripes and the trefoil.
In the late ‘70s the older lads by ours started to dress differently. Their hair, clothes and footwear seemed to change overnight. The normal leather shoes and Dunlop Greenflash, for example, were seen a lot less and classics adidas such as Mamba, Bamba, Samba and Stan Smith a lot more.
Fast-forward to ‘82 and a pioneering young Robert Wade Smith opened his Slater street shop, stocking amazing adidas tennis shoes like Grand Slam, Grand Prix and Forest Hills. The tough black leather adidas trainers seemed so outdated next to the softer materials and clashing colourways of Trimm Trab, Munchen and Forest Hills. The timing was perfect!
How long have you been collecting adidas?
I have been collecting adidas for about 18 years. I didn't think of it as collecting back then but buying three pair of Stan Smith, Samoa and the Formel 1 led to what we now call ‘collecting’.
I was also picking up some really nice vintage stuff from Sunday markets and second-hand shops while living down south. Places like Windsor, Cambridge and London always seemed to have something each time I went out on the mooch.
Your first pair?
I can never remember if I had Brisbane or Cosmos first. Cosmos were similar in ways to Wimbledon, I got them from a workwear shop called Dalmarine. A mate of mine sent me a pair last week as a gift – reunited after 35 years!
I wore other brands before them, we can't ignore the fact that there were loads of nice Nike runners, Puma and Patrick stuff about at the time, plus them terrible things in Woolies your nan would get you!
Your last pair?
My last pair came this morning and they're not released until summer so I can't tell you! I recently landed a big haul of South African adidas deadstock – amazing stuff that had never reached Europe.
And your favourite?
That's a tough one! there are so many since the above haul dropped I can't see past my South African Adi Runner, they are simply perfection.
Finally, what is about adidas that is so special to you?
The thing that has always stood out about adidas goes way back to the founders' beginnings. It has always fascinated me. The way the brand strived to produce the very best sports shoes, not only for the world’s top athletes but for everyone. I was fortunate enough to see the adidas Archive in Herzogenaurach and really lucky to see the museum.
Adi's original workbench was in this very secure room complete with his shoemaking tools and other personal video footage no one can have access to. We even went to the Dassler family home in the back streets of Herzo town and on the wall was the original Gebruder Dassler sign and the Fritz Dassler Lederhosen sign on the front of the house. For me, there isn't a pair of trainers out there that would match that trip to Germany.
adidas will always be the number one sports brand, regardless of completion.