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14 Alternative Trainer Icons: From Bernie Clifton to The Taliban

by Anthony Teasdale
16 April 2012 23 Comments

Most people think of Michael Jordan as THE trainer icon, but he's got nothing on Elton John, Leonard Rossiter or Tony Wilson

Johnny Wadd: Big fan of the original Forest Hills, apparently

Jesse Owens

Not only did Jesse Owens make Hitler and co look like prize cocks by winning everything at the 1936 Berlin Olympics, but his choice of plain black running shoes was a socio-minimalist statement that preceded Prada by about 70 years. And he didn’t talk about his idea for a new website endlessly either.

Pete Shelley

Mancunians have a proud musical history, but while the Buzzcocks could lay claim to writing some of the best pop songs of all time, Shelly’s choice of two-stripe no make pumps made him look less like a punk icon and more like a hospital porter from Bury.

Elton John

Ever the Yankophile, Elton’s love affair with the US was cemented when he binned the big mad platforms ‘n’ braces of Tommy and replaced them with a glittery baseball suit and a pair of shit Wally Waffle Nikes. Beaut.

Leonard Rossiter & Bernie Clifton

Clifton may mount a fake ostrich every year for the London marathon, while Rossiter’s main contribution to fashion was the tank top, but when the pair turned up at a pro-celebrity squash tournament in 1979 decked out completely in Adidas (including spanking white Stan Smiths), they looked less like British comedy icons and more like the ICF on holiday.

The Cast of Grange Hill

Who can forget the episode when Pogo Patterson and Stewpot – in a passing reference to football hooliganism – turned up for a scrap in the park with rival school Brookdale in full cockney casual gear of Tacchini, Gabicci and acres of Pringle – all rounded off with pristine pairs of Nike and Adidas. The show’s golden years were about to end.

Adidas trainers were as compulsory for the likes of the Soviet Union and East German Olympic squads as spying on your neighbours, queuing for potatoes and pogo-ing to black market copies of ‘Living Doll’.

The Taliban

When Taliban soldiers were captured during the last Afghan war, Western trainer spotters were amazed to see the Muslimist radicals had a penchant for Adidas Gazelles. News footage revealed turban-clad fundamentalist fighters shunning combat boots in favour of the popular pump.

Christopher Lambert

If you’re the kind of person who sets out to climb a mountain in a pair of trainers, you’re either a cretin who has to get rescued, and looks like a complete twat on the local news, or you’re an immortal. Diadora Borg Elite-sporting Christopher Lambert in Highlander was, of course, the latter.

Damon & Barry Grant

The Grant brothers, Damon and Barry, documented perfectly the transformation of Liverpool scally style from wedge to mullet in Brookside’s formative years in the early Eighties. While soft lad Damon flitted from Adidas to Puma, phoney crim Barry stuck with Sambas, tying them dead tight so his feet turned up like an extra from Ali Baba And The Forty Thieves.

Every Communist Bloc Team Ever

After Adi Dassler’s daughter learned Russian and took charge of their East European operation, Adidas trainers were as compulsory for the likes of the Soviet Union and East German Olympic squads as spying on your neighbours, queuing for potatoes and pogo-ing to black market copies of ‘Living Doll’.

Tony Wilson

Granada news presenter, Factory Records boss and subject of the ace 24 Hour Party People, Wilson belied his reputation as Madchester trend-setter and proved that not all Italian design is cool by sporting a pair of crap Travel Fox trainers during the late Eighties, coupled with Yohji Yamamoto double-breasted suit in the style of Phil Collins and Chevy Chase.

The Heaven’s Gate Cult

Nike’s ubiquitous marketing took a wrong turn and disproved the maxim that there’s no such thing as bad publicity. When 39 members of nerdy Star Trek-obsessed Californian wackos the Heaven’s Gate cult committed mass suicide, each and every one of them was wearing a pair of Nikes.

John Holmes

The man with the biggest lash in LA strode the fuzzy-focus world of late Seventies porn as the colossus of cock. Undoubtedly his coolest moment came when he turned up for an orgy in a jacuzzi with a pair of flares, skinny rib T-shirt and a well-worn pair of Adidas trainers. And a host of sexual diseases.

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image descriptionCOMMENTS

Neil Summers 8:32 pm, 26-Dec-2010

I once saw an old lady in my local gym wearing Madrids if that's any good to you?

Harry McNally 2:20 pm, 27-Dec-2010

Jeremy Clarkson has been spotted sporting a rather nice pair of Trim trabb.

n1 10:25 pm, 27-Dec-2010

Antony the icf were never that smart.

Mr Patrick 11:49 pm, 27-Dec-2010

Roger Daltrey sported a decent pair of Adidas in McVicar, as did Micky Dolenz in Head. And who can foget Lewis Collins in The Professionals rocking Adidas with Farah slacks, a black polo neck and a leather jacket?

mh 2:22 pm, 28-Dec-2010

http://i.telegraph.co.uk/telegraph/multimedia/archive/01693/bruce-lee-trainers_1693778i.jpg Bruce Lee had these trainers

nifty 50 3:21 pm, 28-Dec-2010

Good call mr patrick roger daltrey 's trainers in mcvicar were adidas trx.

wade 8:59 pm, 28-Dec-2010

Two words: Wham! And their classic pop video Club Tropicana complete with diadora that still sell well in their umpteenth (and inevitably substandard) reissue.

scousehouse 3:44 pm, 29-Dec-2010

What about the scouse kid in grange hill can't remember his name he used to wear adidas olympia s blue leather with trimm trab sole.

Mr Patrick 6:55 pm, 29-Dec-2010

The scouse kid was called Ziggy Greaves.

HardcorePrawn 11:27 am, 1-Jan-2011

Steve Zissou from the Life Aquatic, he had his own range of tasteful pale blue striped Adidas; and very nice they were too.

Terry 4:58 pm, 3-Jan-2011

I disupte your premise that Italian design is cool. They're all over the LA Trainer, for God's sake - in silver

Innersole 12:10 pm, 5-Jan-2011

I was watchin' topgear on Dave as you do n spotted told jazzer sportin' a pair of burgundy n black adidas Jean.

Jonesy 2:51 pm, 5-Jan-2011

Daltrey's "ain't going anywhere without my trainers" Adidas TRX were recently reissued. Zissou's were made up for film using Adidas ROM (online petition for Adidas to release them failed). Lennon's Springcourts on Abbey Road cover gotta get a shout.

les roberts 1:54 pm, 7-Jan-2011

eddie murphy's adidas leader in beverley hills cop. the starsky(or hutch)look of chunky cardi and sl76 has got me through the winter and, thugh not strictly a spot, alan ball painted his adidas world cups white because the white hummel he was paid to wear were shit! and everyone knows they're called 'trainies' and not 'trainers'!

Harry McNally 9:09 pm, 10-Jan-2011

Anyone have an idea what trainers Jimmy as on on the cover of Quadrophenia (not the sound track) by The Who?

King of the Slums 8:10 pm, 12-Mar-2011

Eddie Murphy in Beverly Hills Cop, nice pair of Adidas County. Shame Adidas has now pandered to the 3 haircuts in 1 Hoxton lot with a right load of shite..

David L 9:30 pm, 13-Apr-2011

Come on, this was first published in 2003...is there nothing new to add from the last decade? At least give it a polish, that reference to "the last Afghan war" sticks out badly. Wot, that last Afghan war THAT'S STILL GOING ON?

David L 9:53 pm, 13-Apr-2011

...and even the article as published in 2003 (which I've now got in front of me) stripped out that "last" reference. This is the proof copy of the article, right?

MrHyde 9:11 pm, 18-Apr-2011

Good article but i cant help thinking,just how do I change my name to Johnny Wadd?

reelloopy 7:30 pm, 22-Apr-2011

what about the adidas the lee scratch perry/bluce lee hybrid rocks on the cover of 'kung fu meets the dragon'?...it's mainly sole but i reckon there's enough clues to the uppers that some sneaker nerd out there could identify them...

les roberts 9:30 pm, 22-Apr-2011

re: reelloopy...after a quick look i'll start the bidding at a pair of Rekord...

reelloopy 11:01 am, 23-Apr-2011

and whatever the hell these are,they seem to have bestowed our Finninsh friend here with some magical 'disco feelinin' powers.... http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NYnNWZXQQSY

Bob Shankly 5:12 pm, 17-Apr-2013

John Lennon Adidas Antelope 1967 on the ep cover for Penny Lane.

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