Today, sneakers seem to be much more than just shoes. They are status symbols and extremely valuable collectors items making their buyers devoted fans willing to wait hours, travel miles, and spend quite some money for the objects of their desire. Combined with just the right amount of heritage and history, such a shoe quickly becomes a symbol of an whole era. With its roots in the 90s and its eyes on current developments, the Adidas EQT is exactly that – a sneaker combining the past with the future and creating a distinct look for the now. Realising the immense meaning the EQT line holds, Adidas decided to give its iconic sneaker a modern make-over and transport the feeling of the 90s into the now, without loosing sight of what originally set it apart from other lines. Together with Torben Schumacher, Vice President Product of Adidas Originals and an expert when it comes to the brand meaning and heritage of Adidas, we talked everything EQT and had a look at how the German brand managed to link the past to the current, keep the EQT relevant, and the legacy of their sneakers alive.
Adidas introduced the new EQT with the slogan “everything that is essential, nothing that is not”. What makes this sentence so essential?
This slogan is extremely important for us because the history of the EQT is a core element to the brand. So we not only wanted to bring back the shoe for the now but the whole heritage with it. We didn’t think about letting go of or carrying on with certain features but rather focused on the principals and ideals the EQT stood for. If you look at the new collection, you can see that clear point of view. Nonetheless, there are still some distinct links back to the original shoe.
What was your approach when you first thought about reinventing the EQT?
Our guideline has always been “past informs future”, which means we look at the past as a starting point and then try to invent new things out of that. With the EQT we asked ourselves: How would these shoes be developed today, how would they fit into the times, the lifestyle, the current trends. Still, we didn’t want to be too stiff regarding the archive, it’s more of seeing it as a tool-box rather than a museum.
So which parts of this tool-box did you use for the new EQT?
The branding details were extremely important, also the overlays and of course the color. These are the things you now see as kind of a central theme throughout the collection. Sneakerheads also love the shape of the shoe, which was a part of the design process that took quite long as we had to try a lot of different shapes until we found the perfect ones for today. Although those things are completely new, they still feel very familiar.
How did you manage to combine the history with innovation?
For us it’s very important to not have some kind of rulebook that says “How to bring a shoe back”. We rather look at each shoe individually and think about what the core elements of each story are. With the EQT it’s all about the history and the times it first debuted in, which perfectly captures what Adidas is all about: Being self confident, finding your own path and not making any compromises.
The EQTs origin lies in the 90s – what is so important for Adidas about that time?
In the 90s the EQT marked a changing point for the brand because the firm was struggling. So the EQT equalled kind of a re-start, a self confident project with a clear agenda. It also was introduced in a time when the social, cultural and political landscape in Germany was very disordered.
In the release video for the new EQT you show the fall of the Berlin wall in 1989 – which role plays the German capital for you as a brand and the EQT?
As a German brand the EQT quickly became a symbol for change and a new start for us. It captured the zeitgeist and the feeling of a whole generation. We felt very strongly about including this chapter in the video and transporting that feeling into the now.
Which changes of the expectations consumers have of sneakers did you noticed between then and today?
Back then shoes like the EQT were designed to actually be sport shoes, to be used for running. Today, people see them more as lifestyle products, which they collect and use very carefully. This change came because of the youth culture that took the shoes and made them a symbol for a certain time and a mind-set.
So who is the new EQT made for?
We love when people are wearing our shoes, still we wanted to go a bit further this time and create a shoe which is not only made for doing sports. We love to see how different people style the shoe, it gets a whole new identity every time someone wears it.
In the 90s, the EQT was said to predict the future of sneakers. Where would you see that future from today’s perspective?
We would love to have created a shoe that will, in some year’s time, become the same kind of icon the original EQT is now. That’s our goal. Still it should stay the symbol of a time when Adidas had a clear viewing on things and reflect this approach. Even in the 90s the EQT was about more than just running and we hope it’ll still be that versatile in the future. Or evolve in directions we can’t even predict.
All Images via Adidas / Photography by Juergen Teller
By Trisha Balster