Life of an adidas Addict: Azzido Collector Interview
Stefan Gehrmann is one of our favourite kinds of collectors. An adidas aficionado with a penchant for late-80s and early-90s tech-heavy designs, he isn’t about collecting for collecting’s sake; rather, his primary concern is being able to actually wear his enviable collection of Trefoil treasures.
Sadly, given many shoes from this era were built atop polyurethane sole units, time hasn’t been too kind to much of Stefan’s collection. Over the years, many succumbed to dreaded deterioration but this hasn’t fazed Stefan. He rocks his kicks ‘til the soles fall off, then, with the speed of an F1 pit crew, equips them with fresh tread to ensure the obscure vintage gems stay on the streets for decades to come.
Here, Stefan, known online as azzido83, showcases some gems from his Three Stripes archive.
The Quorum is an exceptional silhouette that is still wearable today due to its unbreakable EVA midsole. The colourway shown here was used on many different adidas models before the Quorum, such as the 80s AdiStar Sprint, and was still in action many years later (for example, on the 1993 Oregon Ultra TE). In terms of its colourway and silhouette, there are hardly any comparable shoes out there, even within the vintage ranks.
The adidas Ku´Damm is a virtually unknown model even among diehard collectors. The Ku´damm is a famous avenue in Berlin that serves as the home straight for the Berlin Marathon. The shoe is equipped with an X-Torsion system and is very light. The distinctive strap-lacing is reminiscent of the Equipment Racing 93 and proved perfect for giving the midfoot boosted support. Although the Berlin Marathon is Germany’s largest street race, the Ku´Damm was curiously only sold in Switzerland. So, you can imagine my surprise when after years of searching I finally came across a pair in a vintage store in New Jersey! Personally, I only know three people who can lay claim to the Ku’Damm in their collection, which makes me particularly proud to own a pair.
1991: Torsion Response
Nothing reflects the colours of the 90s more than the Torsion Response of 1991. Its blend of neon green, neon yellow and bright blue matches my tastes exactly. The Response was part of a new area in the Torsion line. It was less expensive than the very similar Guidance 1. In fact, the Response is almost identical to the Guidance, but features some minor upper material differences and an alternative sole construction. I’ve given my pair a second life thanks to a sole swap and now wear them regularly.
1995: Euro Super
The Euro Super is a light and cheap runner from 1994. Despite its low cost, the model featured an impressive level of cushioning and came equipped with non-slip outsoles, making it more than suitable for running the streets. It also proved highly durable thanks to its use of EVA midsoles, which still hold strong today. I sold my original pair in a red/black colourway to a friend in 2013. A few months later I began to miss them in my collection and regretted my decision. Then two years later I had the chance to buy them back, which I did immediately! The blue and white colourway also holds special meaning for me as it reflects the colours of my home soccer club and is therefore a must-have pair in my collection.
1989-90: Quasar 1990 and Meteor
Mrs Palme was a famous handball player in the German Democratic Republic and also my PE teacher in primary school. Like any dutiful sports teacher, Mrs Palme only ever entered the gym wearing a light-coloured sole (a gum sole to be specific). But for outdoor PE, Mrs Palme wore this exact Meteor. Very similar in design to the Meteor was the Qasar and, just like the Meteor, the Quasar was an affordable sports shoe that met the demands of even a sports teacher. Both models are like time machines that take me back to gym class. It takes a long time to find something comparable in form and colour these days. Cheap sports shoes in 1990, but a vintage fashion statement in 2018.
1992: Torsion Advance
The Torsion Advance dates back to 1992 and entices with its shape alone, though it's made all the more alluring by its mixture of purple, turquoise and white atop a base of silky, shiny mesh. The outsole is made of carbon rubber and, thanks to the use of EVA foam, the midsole is highly durable and will hopefully last for decades. Absorbent cushioning and the use of Torsion make the shoe multitalented in the running sector. The lacing is similar to the Torsion Integral and the subsequent Equipment Series 2.
1992: Tech Super
For me, the Tech Super is an utterly underestimated silhouette. On-foot, the shape of the OG 1992 model is razor-sharp — as far as I’m concerned you should be required to hold a weapon’s licence to wear them! The model was retroed in 2012, but the shape was far more bulbous. The 1992 version was also paler in colour than the gaudy retro.
1995: ZX 4500
I purchased the ZX 4500 at Summer Solemart in 2014. I remember the exact moment I saw it. I immediately grabbed the shoe and started the hard negotiations with a ‘Berliner Atzen’, who is one of my friends these days. The upper, with gold and black pinstripes on the heel and bright yellow elements, is always an eye-catcher. The polyurethane sole was, unfortunately, no longer wearable so I replaced it with a vintage-white ZX sole. Of course, the whole thing has been made with great care to ensure that the shoe looks as original as possible.
1990: ZX 1000 C
The ZX 1000 C is a highlight of my collection. The hits of light blue are powerfully bright and shiny, making it an incomparably eye-catching sneaker. The ZX 1000 was the cheaper alternative to the ZX 8000 in the early 90s. I was more than surprised when I saw this model from 1990 at a flea market and, even better, the asking price was low. The condition of the shoe wasn’t the best but the base was great. A thorough clean and sole swap with a ZX sole made it wearable again.
1991: Torsion Precision S
The Torsion System revolutionised the running shoe market in 1989, and the first models from that year — such as the ZX 9000, ZX 6000 and ZX 8000 — were high-end running shoes aimed exclusively at athletes (priced at a prohibitively lofty 229 Deutsche Mark). In other words, they were developed purely for performance. Of course, these shoes also found their way into casual wear, which prompted adidas to design many future Torsion models such as the Torsion Precision for the lifestyle market. Featuring more relaxed designs — but still high-quality, functional sports shoes — they were lower in price and made to appeal to street fashion and leisure.
1994: Street Plus
For me, the design of 1994’s Street Plus is a standout in adidas’ sports shoe range. The upper of this light and simple running shoe is characterised by curved, organic shapes previously unseen in any adidas design at the time of its release. This design language can be found on many performance shoes made well into the 2000s, including the Excelsior 5 Low baseball shoe and the ClimaCool Table Tennis, both of which were designed around 2008. The colourway shown here is reminiscent of the simple and timeless colour schemes of the ‘Equipment’ line. A quasi-Originals product in EQT colours? Fantastic!
2015: Track and BOOST Custom ‘Street Plus Boost’
In 2015, one of my #Trefoilbros, Ingo, aka snkrcrps, started customising track and field shoes of the 80s and 90s by adding BOOST sole units to make them suitable for everyday use. He is just as enthusiastic about the colourways and designs of this epoch as I am, and he sees his work as an opportunity to combine the design of the past with modern running shoe technology and comfort. He likes to say that creating these unique pieces is his way of contributing to the legacy of adidas. This particular custom consists of a 1997 Techstar Interval combined with a 2014 Rocket Boost Climachill. The rounded BOOST sole perfectly fits the organic shapes of the Interval’s upper. Despite the difference in age of the materials, they paint a harmonious picture. The Interval’s upper design was also used for the Street Plus, hence the name ‘Street Plus Boost’.
1990-91: Torsion Strider
The Strider is one of many Torsion-based trainers that were available in the early 90s. Sold on the market during 1990 and 1991, the model featured polyurethane midsoles with guiding elements. The shiny grey mesh and the applications of purple are, for me, a reflection of the 90s. My pair was in extremely bad condition when I bought them. The original sole was partly broken and decayed, and the upper was covered with 20 years of dirt and dust. After arduous cleaning, I did a sole swap to make the shoe wearable again. Being unable to acquire a perfect match, a friend of mine from Dresden stuck an Equipment Support sole from 2010 onto the Torsion Strider’s upper, which worked a treat.
Words & photos: Stefan Gehrmann