adidas aZX Series

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Back when I was still working at U-Dox (read this for a bit more on my background, if you’re curious), one of the last things I was involved in before flying the nest was the adidas aZX project. In short, adidas realised that the love for the Torsion Bar was greater than they’d estimated and decided to launch one of the best Consortium ranges of product yet. Each of the alphabet’s 26 letters was allocated to a Consortium partner, who in turn had the opportunity to create their own make-up of one of the models in the ZX running range.

I worked on the initial stages of the project, helping whittle down the list of potential partners and then preparing the interview questions which formed part of the visual collateral. We were flown over to Herzogenaurach (where the adidas headquarters live) to join in the process: we worked on our own shoe for Crooked Tongues, but more interestingly, we were there as a creative agency to document the entire project. You can see the resulting interview footage up on YouTube, where Gary and I had a good laugh talking to the guys involved.

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left to right/top to bottom: the guys from Bodega preparing for interview, in the design studio, early morning + freezing cold = headache, some of the available colour and material swatches

Speaking to the different partners was a good way to get to find out their individual memories and experiences of the original ZX range. It was pretty clear that all the partners involved were perfectly selected and we were looking forwards to seeing the fruits of their labours. Two and a half days isn’t a long time to concoct a shoe, but everyone worked hard and got things done.

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left to right/top to bottom: SneakersNStuff by the history wall, FootPatrol in the woods, Kendo on the courts, LimitEdition in the vast design hanger

I left U-Dox in June 2008, so although I’d seen the sample shoes in different stages of completion, I didn’t get to see the final retail products until much closer to the release date. Released in three batches (A-H, I-P and Q-W), it was clear that I’d want to buy more than a few of these models.

A quick rinse of the girlfriend’s credit card resulted in a decent haul that I feel summarised the best shoes in the range.

Not to say the others weren’t good, but here’s a quick personal review of three of the seven models that I picked up.

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left to right/top to bottom: FootPatrol ZX800 (with a little denim bleeding on the stripes… oops!), Goodfoot ZX8000, DQM ZX90, Undefeated ZX8000, ARC ZX7000, Crooked Tongues ZX9000

FootPatrol ZX800

Whilst it wasn’t rocket science to take the original ZX8000 colourway and apply it to its little brother, the ZX800, the use of all-over 3M was pretty sharp. Clique-N-Move’s Kahma put this one together – and he did a damn good job. This was one of those that pleased the purists (seriously, how many better colourways are there out there?) and offered something new to the hype crowd as well. Just remember to photograph this one with your camera flash off. I doubled up on these, luckily, as they have getting worn a lot and seem to be buggers to find online already.

Goodfoot ZX8000

The letter ‘G’ went to the chaps at Goodfoot, who came back with a ‘Grun’-worthy 8000. Grun is adidas’s ecological range, utilising recycled materials and packaging, but usually ending up looking like a gum-laden pile of rubber chippings. Oh, and covered in hessian. This shoe did not follow the precedent, instead opting for gorgeous grass-green toe dipping and smart grey mesh materials. For many, this was the shoe of the series, and with good reason. Wish I’d picked up doubles of this one.

DQM ZX90

What some disregarded in favour of the more regular silhouettes quickly became known as the ‘dark horse’ of the series. A narrower shape with a lightweight sole unit, the ZX90 is an ideal model for cycling in – and with DQM’s 3M and pastel finishing, it’s one of the sleeper hits. I’ve yet to ride in them, but I’m already confident they’ll be perfect for my two-wheeled adventures.

I also liked the Undefeated, Bodega, Alife Rivington Club (A.R.C.), WoodWood and Crooked Tongues models. With the CTs , it was the colourway that was spot-on: the multiple carbon/3M applications were undoubtedly appealing to lots of people as well. The Undefeated and A.R.C. models divided the followers: some believed that a one-colour dunking was too easy and the colours were too brash, but the others appreciated the fine use of materials on both of these. Bodega used a considered palette of colours and materials, coming up with something subtle that could easily have been an off-the-shelf regular product, but with an extra little something. The WoodWood is just a shoe of beauty. With it’s white and grey bodywork, it’s not ideal for the wet London winter, but next summer… Just wait and see!

Something that was interesting was the fact that once I had all of the shoes in my house, the amount of extra collateral seemed to be slightly overwhelming. Spare lace sets, key rings, lining paper… all strewn over the floor. Obviously, most normal people wouldn’t be getting several pairs at once and then insist on opening everything all up at the same time, but still. God knows what I’ll do with the 20 spare packs of laces I seem to have accumulated.

One of the best collaborative ranges I’ve seen recently. Good work guys.

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