If the sneaker world had a fountain of youth, the adidas Gazelle may just have drunk from it. First released in 1966, what first began as a performance-oriented training sneaker has superseded its initial purpose to become an iconic silhouette, emerging every decade and touching upon almost every major subculture to become a truly timeless icon.
Now, following the phenomenal success of the Stan Smith, adidas is looking to revitalize the Gazelle as its next retro bestseller — this much seems Adidas ZX Flux Femme likely, given the sneaker’s simple yet Adidas ZX Flux Dame characterful design that has allowed it to be co-opted by so many fringe cultural groups while being tied down by none. However, in this post-subcultural world of ours, it’s important to note the mark that disparate youth movements have left on the court sneaker in the past half-century, from Bob Marley to Oasis frontman Noel Gallagher. Below, we round up five of the most prominent groups to idolize the adidas Gazelle.
As the face of the reggae and Rasta movement, Bob Marley is undoubtedly known for his music and “One Love” philosophy. His profile is instantly recognizable the world over, but as much as the rastacap is an inseparable part of his outfit, so was an adidas tracksuit, and on his feet, a pair of Gazelles. Marley was probably drawn by the sight Nike Air Vapormax Dámské of the bright golden yellow of the Nike Air Max 90 Mujer Gazelle’s twin sister, the Mexicana, which was released in anticipation of the 1968 Olympics in Mexico City. An avid soccer fan himself, Marley wore Gazelles both on and off the field — a style that was picked up by his reggae contemporaries and has been passed down to his grandchildren, most notably Selah Marley who sported the model in a recent “Style Tribes” campaign for adidas Originals.
Arguably the subculture most strongly associated with the adidas Gazelle, the terrace casuals of ’80s-era Thatcherite Britain grew out of soccer culture prevalent in urban centers the country over. While the casuals’ uniform stayed loyal to higher-end continental sportswear brands like C.P. Company, its Stone Island offshoot, Lacoste and Fred Perry to differentiate themselves from the less-privileged Nike Air Zoom Pegasus 36 Damen soccer hooligans, it was adidas that Nike Air Max Command Damen was the rallying cry around which young lads gathered.
Naturally, given its reputation as an indoor soccer shoe, the Gazelle was a perfect fit for them, becoming something of a status symbol in the process. As adidas consultant Gary Aspden told Complex, “We called shoes like Monaco, Madeira and Samoa the ‘poor man’s Gazelles,’ as they had suede uppers but were a fiver cheaper than the Gazelle. Gazelle was the shoe everyone wanted.” Given the strong resurgence of casual fashion in the menswear realm of late, the Gazelle’s reintroduction seems at the very least destined for success among this particular crowd.
The same shade of maroon Gazelles found their way into another mainstay of ’90s grunge, namely Danny Boyle’s seminal work, Trainspotting. Ewan McGregor’s Renton opens the cult film Nike Air Max 2016 Femme dashing down Edinburgh’s Princes Street Nike Air Max 90 Damen in the three-striped sneaker, forever emblazoning it into the minds of anarchists and nihilists as the footwear of choice for those who wanted to stick it to the establishment. Grunge and heroin chic thus became a defining fashion through much of the ’90s, with the Gazelle figuring centrally within.