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adidas Collectors Project: For the People, By the People

October 21, 2013by Aaron Kr.
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For every major sneaker brand, there are several different segments of their consumer base. There are the casual consumers who will buy it if they like it, the loyal appreciators who continually come back for more, and then the diehard fans who identify with the brand on a deeper level and go above and beyond when it comes to supporting, representing, and immersing themselves in the lifestyle and culture. This smaller segment of obsessives may not account for the largest chunks of retail profit, but their devotion and dedication is the type of  priceless commodity that most brands would kill to achieve.

That said, it’s not very often that these large and successful corporations take notice and actually show any kind of tangible appreciation or recognition to the people living and breathing their products, which makes the adidas Collectors Project such a welcome breath of fresh air. adidas worked with their local teams around the world to pinpoint five dedicated collectors who not only represent different global regions, but also personify all different aspects and subdivisions of the brand’s storied culture. Each of the five collectors has their own style, personality and perspectives, and this project brings them together in a unified way that demonstrates the broad scope of adidas’ reach into all different facets of the sneaker collecting landscape.

The chosen five were flown out to adidas global HQ in Herzogenaurach, Germany where they toured the hallowed

archives as well as Adi Dassler’s home and the Scheinfeld prototyping facility, all the while trading stories and knowledge with the adidas archive and design teams, as well as each other. Finally, they were given the opportunity to each select a model from the archives to put their own personal touches on – an almost unthinkable dream come true for any sneaker enthusiast, but an even more deserving one for these loyal supporters who have given so much of themselves to the Three Stripes brand all these years. Working together with members of the adidas Originals design team, the five shoes were mapped out on the spot, with only a few later tweaks needed to properly bring each original vision to life.

Thanks to the knowledge and experience that each collector brought to the table, it became more clear than ever how important and beneficial it can be for a brand to reach out to its most loyal followers to get honest opinions and insights from people that know the ins and outs of this stuff better than some of its own employees. We here at Sneaker News salute adidas for showing confidence in the creative visions of its biggest fans, and giving them the opportunity to turn their sneaker dreams into reality and show some sincere appreciation in the process. Continue on for an extensive look at the Collectors Project and some background on the five individuals behind it, including interviews with two of the contributors. Keep an eye out for them hitting select adidas retailers around the globe this Saturday, October 26th.


Born and raised in the Bronx, Michael Greene (aka Operator Emz) grew up on the hip-hop and sneaker culture of the late ’70s and early ’80s and has been representing it ever since. Now an established DJ and producer, Emz is also a lifelong Three Stripes diehard, and has been hunting down adidas sneakers all along the

way. When offered the chance to create his very own adi shoe, he chose the classic Pro Model 80s and flipped the original white/burgundy colorway from 1982 into a more luxurious contemporary edition, using premium buttery suede on the three stripes and accents with a white crocodile-textured leather upper.

SN:  What was your reaction to being chosen to participate in this project and how were you notified that you had been selected?

Operator Emz:  Bradley from adidas hit me up and asked me if I’d be interested, and OF COURSE I was! It’s a dream come true for an adidas fan like me!

SN:  What was the best part of working on your own shoe at the adidas global HQ in Germany?

Operator Emz:  I was really into going through all the materials. There were so many amazing choices!!

SN:  Why did you choose the Pro Model as your palette for this project?

Operator Emz:  The Pro Model 80s is a shoe that I don’t think has really been done right up until now.

SN:  Did the final version of your very own adidas shoe live up to your expectations for it, and is there anything you wish you would have done differently?

Operator Emz:  Now that I look at my shoe, I should have done a super-obnoxious flashy shoe. With green Snakeskin and Yellow Stripes!

SN:  What makes you so passionate about adidas?

Operator Emz:  adidas reminds me of my youth, and I had a GREAT youth!!!

SN:  Aside from the pair you just created, what’s your all-time favorite adidas shoe?

Operator Emz:  My all-time fave adidas shoe is the baby blue Campus 80s!


Julia “Sneakerqueen” Schoierer, may have grown up in Germany, but her love of ’80s US hip-hop culture is something that never left her. Rumored to have over 800 pairs of sneakers, her love of adidas shoes covers a broad variety of categories, but it’s ’80s basketball models that have proven to be her truest love. For her Collectors Project shoe, Sneakerqueen selected the Rivalry Hi, a popular offering back in 1986 that has recently started to build

some retro buzz. Like Operator Emz, she also chose to put a lux spin on an original colorway, taking the quintessential white/grey makeup and reworking it with supple leathers and faux snakeskin accents, and even going as far as to choose certain materials based on their ability to maintain the integrity of the silhouette’s original shape.

SN:  What was your reaction to being chosen to participate in this project and how were you notified that you had been selected?

Sneakerqueen:  I was asked by a Haeberlein&Maurer (the agency, that promotes Adidas here in Berlin) representative on an event last year, and I instantly said yes, of course! I felt honored and excited.

SN:  What was the best part of working on your own shoe at the adidas global HQ in Germany?

Sneakerqueen:  Adidas outdid themselves, giving us a good time in Herzo. There where tours, dinners, interviews and a lot of insight into productions and the history of the brand. For me the highlights of the trip must have been strolling through the archive and meeting Jacque Chassaing afterwards. To get to talk with a designer of this caliber, who had designed most of my favorite adidas Models, was priceless!

SN:  Why did you choose the Rivalry Hi as your palette for this project?

Sneakerqueen:  The Rivalry Hi was the only sneaker, from my favorites lot, that had not been retroed since 1986 (at the time when I decided  for that model, I did not know, that adidas was going to released the model in 2013 anyway)

SN:  Did the final version of your very own adidas shoe live up to your expectations for it, and is there anything you wish you would have done differently?

Sneakerqueen:  The details of the final version definitely live up to my expectations. My favorites: The insole print and of course my Ewing-inspired Sneakerqueen logo on the inside of the tongue. I had so many ideas for details on this shoe, I am happy some of them worked out.
If there would have been more time, I would have taken a different snakeskin for the stripes.

SN:  What makes you so passionate about adidas?

Sneakerqueen:  As adidas is the most successful german Sneakerbrand, I had been surrounded by their products all my life. I grew up wearing adidas, my first tennis shoes were adidas Steffi Graf Pro Cs, there’s a lot of sentimental value when it comes to the tree stripes.

SN:  Aside from the pair you just created, what is your all-time favorite adidas shoe?

Sneakerqueen:  That’s like asking a DJ for his favorite record! Here are some of my favorites:
Adidas Rivalry, Adidas Status 1 Hi, Adidas Conductor, Adidas ElDorado, Adidas Kareem Abdul Jabbar, Adidas Jupiter, Adidas Tech (softcell II from 1990), Adidas Q’s (Quatum, Quorum, Quirina, Quesa, Quesence….)


Robert Brooks has been passionately collecting adidas sneakers for over twenty years, and while his personal tastes span across several different brand categories, there was something about the technical runners that spoke loudest. Influenced by his older brother’s style and the trendsetting dancehall crowds of the ’80s and ’90s, Robert has been hunting down rare adidas running gems for most of his life, recently getting his hands on a pair of ZX550’s,

a shoe that had long eluded him. For the Collectors Project, he decided to share his rare treasure with the masses, essentially reintroducing the obscure ZX 550 model to the world with his own unique twist. Robert opted to keep the traditional color-blocking from the OG midsole and heel tabs, but spiced up the in-between with a tan suede upper met by a full 3M heel panel for a cool contemporary spin on this forgotten classic.


Ralf Tiittanen hails from Turku, the oldest city in Finland and a place with zero sneaker stores, but that didn’t stop him from acquiring one of the most impressive adidas collections in the world. Ralf loves the true classics from the ’60s and ’70s design era – simple and clean and the rarer the better. The adidas Bahamas model was a super-obscure model that he had admired from afar

for a long time, but could never find a pair, so for his Collectors Project offering, why not resurrect it? So in love with the original, Ralf was hesitant to change anything at all about it, but eventually chose to include some personal touches like the maroon accents and leather tongue and lining.


Now a Tokyo-based clothing designer, shop owner, and DJ, Mr Magara’s love for adidas goes all the way back to his childhood and a chance encounter with a certain shoe. Back in the early 80’s as American culture was becoming hugely popular in Japan, adidas was one of the first brands to cross over, and for Naotake Magara it was the Country model that first caught his eye. All these years later, he’s revisiting the origin of his adidas fascination by

crafting his own version of the iconic silhouette and taking color inspiration from another Three Stripes relic that he spotted while visiting the brand’s HQ in Germany. When he saw the Formula 1 prototype, those colors jumped right out and allowed for a perfect transition over to the Country using a nylon upper complemented by suede and leather accents and a chalky vintage’d outsole.