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Gary Aspden adidas Originals x SPEZIAL
Robbie wears all clothes by adidas Originals x SPEZIALPhotography Ash Kingston, Styling Elizabeth Fraser-Bell

Gary Aspden: northern rites

To celebrate the launch of his adidas Originals x SPEZIAL line, the long-time collector and brand collaborator traces his Haçienda flashbacks and acid-house hedonism

Taken from the autumn/winter 2014 issue of Dazed:

Factory Records, like adidas, was virtually a religion in 1980s Blackburn,” says three-stripe devotee and brand collaborator Gary Aspden. His roots in the northwest of England (which he describes as “adidas heartland”) and his involvement with the Haçienda’s acid house scene have come to form the inspiration for his debut adidas Originals x SPEZIAL footwear and apparel collection. It follows the success of Aspden’s SPEZIAL exhibition last year, where the long-time adidas collector filled an east London gallery with over 600 collectable signed sneakers by 
Nas, Public Enemy and RUN DMC, including many rare pieces from his archive. This same exhibition will show at Aspden’s beloved Manchester in October, followed by Paris in November. Here, he shares the defining moments that have come to shape his view on streetwear.

Haçienda flashbacks:

“The first time I set foot inside the Haçienda was for a hip hop all-dayer in 1985. I went to all-dayers all over the country back then. They were great as they were accessible to under-18s like me – they were purely about clothes, dancing and music rather than booze and hedonism. I moved to Manchester in the summer of 1988 to study fashion design. After six months I dropped out of college as the warehouse parties in Blackburn gathered momentum. It’s not a decision I regret. Over a two-year period I watched it go from 30 of us in a terraced house to 10,000 people in a warehouse surrounded by riot police.”

Exotic European:

“For a kid growing up in rainy Lancashire in the 80s, I was fascinated by adidas trainers having names like Stockholm, Palermo and München – places that, back then, I could only dream of going to. I once interviewed Ken Swift from the original Rock Steady Crew and asked him why the B-Boys and graffiti writers in New York gravitated towards adidas and Puma, and he answered that those brands seemed exotic to them because they were European. I understood what he meant.”

Affluent tracksuits: 

“The tracksuit is a German invention. In my early teenage years, the tracksuits we wore were super expensive and were definitely symbols of affluence. I wanted to reclaim that idea by reworking premium versions of some of adidas’s iconic pieces. I set a brief to myself on the clothing to create something that is identifiably adidas without being reliant on the three stripes. In the 1970s adidas tracksuits were sold in boxes that carried the words ‘Sports and Leisure Wear’. I wanted to retain the spirit of adidas’s history and move it to somewhere new.”

The adidas Originals x SPEZIAL collection will be launching in late October. 

Hair Nicole Kahlani at The Book Agency using Bumble and Bumble; make up Nami Yoshida at The Book Agency using M.A.C; model Robbie McKinnon at Supa; styling assistant Cassie Walker