14 Alternative Trainer Icons: From Bernie Clifton to The Taliban

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

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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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