The Middle-Ground Between Sport and Fashion / by Maxwell Young

With so many limited release shoes and hundreds of silhouette variations, it's easy to lose focus on the macro view of the sneaker game, but the industry is changing.  Brands like adidas and Nike, which have been synonymous with the sportswear industry, have ventured into the middle ground occupying the merging gap between sport and fashion.

This past fall, adidas released the Tubular: a modern, innovative, and commercial silhouette heavily influenced by the high-fashion Y-3 Qasa Shell.  The shoe's designer and now VP of Global Design, Nic Galway, recently sat down with Nice Kicks to discuss the shoes design as well as how adidas plans to navigate the current intersection between style and sport.  Check out an excerpt of the conversation below as well as the accompanying video, and for a full read head here

Nice Kicks: When did work on the Tubular begin and how did it come about?

Nic Galway: Basically it started some time ago, maybe four to five years back. At that time, I was looking to promote within the company seeing how far back we could take the collective memory of our brand. I was very interested in Originals, but at that time I was working with Y-3. So, I took a trip and was looking at old products, [including the original adidas Tubular.] It wasn’t so much the actual shoes but the prototypes that led to that shoe that really caught my imagination. The prototypes were somewhat crude, they’re handcut, handmade, and they had a real charm about them. It got me really inspired. What I wanted to do was to strip back the idea to what the initial thought would have been as to why they started that product. So it wasn’t about creating a one-to-one version of the original Tubular, but rather understanding why they did it. That took me to the idea of suspending the foot over a tire which is very close to the end product that you’ll see today.

Nice Kicks: In the past couple of years, the non-retro lifestyle running market has really taken off. What do you attribute that to?

Nic Galway: I think people have become a little bit tired [of retro.] They love the past– I think that will always be a strong root in everything we do– but people are looking to be challenged I think. You’ve had a long period of similarity and now I think people are much more open minded. That’s why we’ve created the products we’ve been working on. I think it’s proving to be a big success because the reaction we get to these more challenging products has been incredibly positive. I think that’s a good sign for the industry as a whole.

Nice Kicks: Recently you’ve received a new title. What is your direction as the new VP of Global Design at adidas?

Nic Galway: It’s where we start, it’s all about creativity. What I want is that everything my team does to be rooted in creativity. Whether it’s a bring-back, in which case we do it true to the original and make it to the highest quality, or if it’s something that’s forward reaching, it all has to start with creativity. I really want to bring everything I’ve learned over my experiences with the brand and bring that to the team and I really want to move forward constantly. Adidas is a pioneering brand and that’s what I stand behind.

Nice Kicks: Lastly, what can sneakerheads expect from the adidas Tubular as it launches? Is this the first step towards rapid innovation for adidas or is the Tubular a model that will remain relevant and on the market for years to come?

Nic Galway: I see both. I see the Tubular as a stake in the ground. It’s an intention from us. We want to let people know that we are an innovative brand with a very rich history. I think this rich heritage can either be a hindrance or it can really be a true enabler. For me, it has to be the enabler. I think this is a starting point and what I’m really looking forward to is seeing where we can take the Originals brand moving forward but doing it in a way where people can still connect.
— Nice Kicks