adidas Spezial Exhibition
Appropriately entitled Spezial, adidas recently presented a retrospective project which culminated in one of the most impressive collections of footwear we think we've ever seen. Luckily for us, Art & Sole contributor and official size? photographer James Meason was on hand to document exactly what was on show...
On the opening day of the exhibition, which was held in London's Hoxton Gallery, I was fortunate enough to be invited along as an ambassador for renowned UK sneaker retailer size? and attend an exclusive presentation by Gary Aspden, the show's curator. Gary has worked as a marketing expert and brand consultant at adidas for the past 12 years and has been a key figure in building relationships with new parties. This extensive knowledge of the brand and how to market it correctly has resulted in the creation of some of the most iconic adidas collaborative projects in recent years - including the Superstar 35th Anniversary collection (see Art & Sole the book, page 96) and his famed work with Japanese streetwear label A Bathing Ape. Gary both indulged us with various anecdotes about how certain projects came to light and explained his personal interest in the brand and its relevance to such a diverse range of cultures.
Sourced from various esteemed collector's hoardings, a total of 600 pairs made the cut to be featured in the exhibition. The show included a very broad range of styles, from terrace classics such as the legendary City/Island Series, to ZX runners and even a whole case of shoes signed by various musicians that Gary has worked with in the past (including the unreleased Beastie Boys Superstar featured in Art & Sole the book, page 96).
In-between the numerous glass cases of incredible artifacts, I also managed to find a few of the great art-based shoes which have been produced by the three-stripes over the years. These included a hand-painted pair of Stan Smith's (with matching flip-flops, shown below) by musician and graffiti artist Goldie, both the Claude Closky/Colette and Peter Saville adicolor releases (see Art & Sole the book, page 110) and the hand-illustrated Stan Smith's by skateboarder and artist Mark Gonzales (which were kindly loaned to us by Gary for inclusion in Art & Sole the book, and can be seen on page 73).
A highlight for many was the Y-3 Hacienda shoe created by designer Peter Saville, architect Ben Kelly, New Order bassist Peter Hook and fashion designer Yohji Yamamoto (see Art & Sole the book, page 18). On display were the full contents of the (250-pair) release, including the various chevron laces, the dancefloor-shaped box and the four sheets of tissue paper showing photos from the club (by Kevin Cummins) and original architectural sketches (by Ben Kelly). In a suprise element to the project, adidas also produced both infant and junior versions of the sneakers for Gary's then new-born son, both pairs of which were also on display.
Other key creative elements of the exhibition included the accompanying limited edition (2000 copies) book, which identified each participating shoe, and the large-scale artwork displayed on the walls of the space, which aptly demonstrated the obsessive nature of sneaker collecting (both designed by Aspden's good friend, Gary Watson).
A video detailing the production behind the project (featuring Gary Aspden, Robert Brooks and Mike Chetcuti) can also be found below. For further information on the Spezial project, check out the Dead Shoe Scrolls website (by Mike Chetcuti) here