LONDON, United Kingdom — When Céline designer Phoebe Philo stepped onto the runway for a bow after the label’s Autumn/Winter 2011 show wearing a pair of white Adidas Stan Smiths, she unintentionally sparked a major footwear trend, boosting the shoe’s fashion credentials and helping to generate demand for the classic model, which was officially reissued in 2014. (Adidas has sold 40 million pairs of Stan Smiths since they first hit the market in 1963, but declined to reveal how many had been sold since the re-issue.)
The Philo effect was purely coincidental. But Adidas is hoping a partnership with another fashion force — British supermodel Kate Moss — will help provide a similar boost to sales of its newly re-issued Gazelles, based on an early-'90s version of the classic sneakers. Indeed, for the launch of the new shoe, Adidas worked with Moss and digital artist Doug Abraham — best known by his popular Instagram handle @bessnyc4 — on a campaign that hacks an archive image of the supermodel wearing her Gazelles in 1993.
“Like the Gazelle, Kate Moss is just as relevant in 2016 as she was back in the 1990s, which is why the image works so well,” said Adidas brand consultant and curator Gary Aspden. “Kate told me earlier this year that when it comes to trainers she has always been an ‘Adidas girl,’ so there was an affinity and an existing synergy there.”
“We’ve had great success with [re-issuing] the Stan Smith and the Superstar,” said Nic Galway, vice president of global design at Adidas Originals, the company’s style-focused division. “The original Gazelles were very slim and European. The 1993 Gazelle was a little bit bulkier, a little bit heavier and it’s really iconic in the memory of that moment.”
The Gazelle was first launched in the 1960s and, over the years, was adopted by a wide range of style tribes, from mods to rastas to the Britpop and grunge scenes. “We love the fact that every generation has taken the Gazelle and made it their own. Now we’re handing over the Gazelle to the next generation. It’s one of those classics of the past and very much in the culture,” continued Galway.
For Galway, the push is less about traditional advertising and more about creating content and working with the medium of culture. “We’ve always had a very natural link to culture. We didn’t plan for so many people to wear our sneakers, but whoever was wearing our product, it was always their own choice. We don’t tell people how to wear something. The culture decides how it will be. We just want to reinforce this culture.”