The Adidas Gazelle has perhaps had as much of an impact on popular fashion and culture as those icons who chose to sport it. From Oasis to Michael Jackson, the Adidas Gazelle has cemented its importance as a right of passage to a variety of sub-cultures transcending the decades.
As with all Adidas trainers the Gazelle’s history is deeply rooted in sports performance – a mantra of pivotal importance to Adi Dassler and the Adidas brand. In 1966, the DNA of a number of initial Adidas incarnations was reformed to create the first Gazelle shoe. For its era, the unique use of dyed suede gave the shoe a much more striking and vibrant colour than previous coloured leather alternatives. True to its performance initiative the two colours of Gazelle actually denoted its performance nature; The Gazelle Blue was designed for training and featured a kangaroo upper, padded ankle, arch support, foot-form tongue and micro-grip sole. The Gazelle Red – a version designed specifically for Handball with a completely differing transparent non-slip outsole tread.
Fast forward to the 1980’s and the era of British casuals, Adidas shoes were the must have choice of footwear and the pursuit for latest editions was relentless. Adidas trainers represented a right of passage and versions of the suede upper trainer were easily attainable as models including the Monaco, Madeira and the Samoa… the Gazelle however was the pinnacle model and anything but was regarded merely as a ‘poor man’s’ alternative.
Through Hip-Hop’s boom in Europe the Gazelle was now a mainstay trainer as people emulated the look of the Adidas Superstar or Adidas Campus – models only available for those on the covers of album sleeves but certainly not readily available to the masses. Come 1990 and the Gazelle had obtained significant enough status to warrant a re-issue as part of the Adidas Originals range with a slightly more bulked up shape to match current trend. At this time UK Britpop culture was rising through bands like Oasis, Blur and Suede which penetrated popular culture and cemented the Gazelle as a must have wardrobe staple. The shoe was certainly not confined to a male audience either, acting as a standard issue for Supermodels of the 90’s. Kate Moss pictured wore the Adidas Gazelle religiously.
“Gazelle’s were THE trainer we all wore in the 90’s. They have a timeless look that just doesn’t date. I was and always have been an adidas girl.” – Kate Moss
To celebrate this hallmark adidas Originals collaborated with digital artist Doug Abraham, also known as @bessNYC4 who remixed the above iconic photograph of Kate Moss wearing a pair of Gazelles. He created a print and video creative that was inspired by “Steal from history. Nothing is sacred.” which reached a re-appropration of fashion and encompasses the collective memory of pop culture imagery to reinvent a new visual commentary.
Watch the video below to understand the mindset and inspiration behind his process of hacking this iconic image.
For 2016 the latest re-issue of the Gazelle has been tasked to Khalife, an Adidas employee who grew up in the east of France and who had developed a deep connection with the Gazelle through his childhood – “I literally grew up with Gazelles on my feet”.
Given its retro relevance to today’s fashion trends, the 90’s version of the Gazelle is the model chosen for the 2016 reincarnation. In order to ensure its iconic features are truly classic the 2016 model has been entirely re-engineered to replicate the 90’s version as closely as possible.”