Last month, on an otherwise normal Wednesday night in New York City, Future performed for a VIP audience at the private kick-off party for adidas Originals Tubular Pop-Up Gallery in SoHo. The art-meets-fashion pop-up gallery, which opened to the public the next day, served as the catalyst for the US introduction of the adidas Originals Tubular X, and was met with positive reviews from voices in the design community, the fashion community and the sneaker community.
Showcasing both Fall/Winter 2015 and Spring/Summer 2016 releases of the adidas Tubular collection, the space was at once futuristic and nostalgic. With New York Fashion Week serving as the brand’s backdrop, adidas paid homage to the Tubular’s unique aesthetic, inspired by the street culture of the city.
On display were the Tubular runner, Tubular X, Tubular Nova, Tubular Defiant and Tubular Doom, plus photography of the kicks from aspiring artists and, to celebrate the occasion, limited quantities of a special edition NYC-specific Tubular Runner Prime Knit for sale.
Nic Galway, Vice President of Global Design for adidas Originals, engineered the birth and evolution of the Tubular line. “When I began work on the Tubular project I was looking at ways of combining the collective memory of adidas with contemporary innovation,” says Galway, “to create a progressive new design language for the brand.”
“The line has now expanded to a number of new Tubular models, including the Tubular X which continues to challenge the status quo.”
“Nic has a really clear vision of where he wants to take the brand, and it’s taken it into a more modern space,” says adidas Originals Senior Director Pascha Naderi-Nejad. “We really feel that the Tubular is that first step in the new expression of our design direction for the brand.”
The Tubular X, specifically, is a blend of performance and style that takes styles from the adidas archives and thrusts them into the future. A seamless one-piece upper with a supportive midsole, the Tubular X uses the brand’s progressive construction. “We use many of adidas’ latest manufacturing techniques such as Primeknit and seamless construction detailing,” Galway says. “However, it is also the way we evolve existing materials through design such as the Tubular EVA sole and the use of bespoke lasts.”
Embedding the spirit of the Tubular into the fabric of #NYFW was no accident. From the beginning, adidas has always lived at the intersection of culture—with its modern day influences including hoops, music and fashion.
That said, the sneaker game is still dominated by a basketball bias (at least, to us). Beyond the Tubular’s instantly recognizable silhouette in both the runner and midcut, Galway says the outsole is actually the shoe’s most striking element.
“The bold EVA tubular outsole is the most unique part of the sneaker’s overall aesthetic,” Galway notes. “For the original Tubular we used a dual density EVA tube. With the X we expand the family with a rubber EVA combination to reflect the basketball DNA.”
In fact, Galway admits that the Tubular X is inspired to some degree by the legendary adidas Forum, once built as a pinnacle piece of performance basketball footwear. “We started by reducing the original Forum down to the iconic X element and the pivot point of the sole,” he explains. “Then, we combined the design update with innovative materials such as Primeknit and a new sock construction to create a fresh, elevated model. We wanted to create a new dialog for what a future basketball model could look like whilst providing cultural context through the collective memory of Originals.”
And after all, NBA players are the most visible, most famous, most marketable stars—not to mention their very livelihoods rely on the product. Which is why adidas continues to target ballers with an eye for style. Houston Rockets superstar and Kanye West associate James Harden came into the fold October 1, joining a group of recently drafted rookies that includes the mega-talented Justise Winslow.
The No. 10 pick in the 2015 NBA Draft out of Duke, Winslow will play alongside Dwyane Wade on South Beach as a member of the Miami Heat. Good thing the 19-year-old has game both on and off the court.
“He really evokes that street credibility,” Naderi-Nejad says of Winslow. “He has a strong style and fashion sense, and he can really deliver that story that we want to capture with the Tubular, where we’ll always be connected to sport. We’re rooted in sport. It’s really about capturing that connection with sport.”
Winslow was courted by all the big-time sneaker brands, but ultimately went with the three stripes, in part because of the opportunity to work with the Originals side of things. “I chose to sign with adidas because I believe adidas is different and fresh, and it felt like a perfect fit,” Winslow told SLAM in an email. “All my life I've stood out for many different reasons—whether it be for my athletic ability, my height, my sense of humor, or my style. So, I thought why not be different and join something that I can be a major part of and help raise to new heights on and off the court.”
Need evidence of his off-court fashion sense? Look no further than Winslow’s hair— with what he calls the “swag in the back”—or his NBA Draft night suit—which he dubbed “Duke Blue.” Still, he insists that he likes to keep it simple.
“Off the court my style is pretty simplistic. I wear a lot of jeans and sweatshirts. As far as colors go, I stick to the basics—a lot of black, white, and grey. I’m pretty sure my Houston roots contribute to my habit of rocking plain tees and sticking to simple colors. That's the culture down there—white and black tees.”
“My shoes are where I usually try to spice things up,” says Justise, who is partial to the Yeezy Boosts or the ZX Flux as his everyday comfort kicks. He says he’ll mix in some classics like Superstars here and there, too, but he’s most excited about the Tubular X as the next big thing from the brand, citing the comfy heel stabilizer in particular. “I really like the fact that they're high top because it pairs well with jeans or pants when you're going out to eat or to an event, but they can still be worn to just kick it around the house with some sweats.”
And Winslow is equally excited to join trendsetters like Pharrell, Kanye and A$AP Rocky on #teamadidas. “They're so fashion forward and have a vision for the future that not many people even understand at the moment,” he says. “It's a great feeling to know that we're all on the same team.”
That natural crossover is what adidas is hoping will make the Tubular X, in particular, a staple both in post-game locker rooms and in sneakerheads’ closets.
“We have credibility in sport, and we have credibility in street culture,” says Naderi-Nejad. “Bringing the two together, I think we can authentically do it in a really compelling way.”
Adds Winslow: “Whether you're a skater, hooper, model, sneakerhead or just your average dude, adidas has something that speaks to you and fits your swag perfectly. That's why it's the best.”
The adidas Tubular line is now available for purchase at adidas.com.