The signature shoe of several time world tennis champion, and still legendary George ‘Rod’ Laver, the adidas Rod Laver has been a mainstay for the brand, and now a central part of the Originals range since its 1970 launch. The key to its success? Utter simplicity. In line with court decorum and regulations of the era, the famous 3-Stripes were shorn for this shoe, and the purity of the Rod Laver set something of a standard for sneaker design – the move to pare down the corporate identity and let the silhouette do the talking is a landmark move too.
Beyond favourite colour combinations like the traditional white and green, the material mix of leather and mesh kept things breathable and lightweight without compromising looks. This bare bones approach gave the shoe an ageless quality. A follow-up, wider, chunkier in the sole and with added midsole and heel branding became another icon and a worldwide Summer standard, notably deified in NYC as the timeless hot weather choice.
Almost forty years after the original design’s introduction, it’s back in a tweaked form, retaining its iconic classicism for an ambitious adidas Originals Consortium project. Nine global Consortium partners, each famed for their innovative approach to retail, were given the Rod Laver to rework with their choice of colours, fabrics and more for release in extremely limited numbers at Consortium stores throughout August and September 2009.
ORIGINAL COLOURS AKA THE GRASS COURT
With its suede heel tab, ‘ROD LAVER’ lettering at the rear and mix of ribbed mesh side panels, embellished here with a slight vintage effect, and pristine leather lacestays, tongue and toe, this O.G. colourway of an adidas bestseller, decade after decade, is presented in that recognisable blend of green and white.
The tweaked sole unit, with its slightly altered outsole is an alteration that brings a pioneering creation up-to-date without compromising the shoe’s essence, while the Consortium tongue branding and sockliner detailing links these to the nine retailer re-workings perfectly. This makeup is defiantly steeped in the past, representing the Laver’s clean, stylish introduction onto the courts, and effortless presentation to a global audience of sports fans and nascent culture of shoe connoisseurs.
With New York’s Dave’s Quality Meats representing for the fixies, skaters and sneaker disciples, and their locale being a place that helped elevate the Rod Laver name as a style icon far beyond its performance origins, you’d expect a respectful treatment in their hands, and that’s what you get here. As simple as their recent 3Way collaborative output, a brick red is used throughout the upper in a number of materials – mesh, suede and leather.
A white heel patch, lining and ‘DQM’ heel tab branding matches the midsole, and the sockliners carry a topical “Recession Special” and price slashing design, that correlates perfectly with the design’s democratic simplicity and ‘everyman’ feel, finished with a beige outsole and branded lacetips for another example of the store’s focus on detail beyond the clean, unsullied feel.
Barcelona-based boutique LimitEDitions doesn’t shy away from a bold approach to retail and design. Their Rod Laver takes a literal serving of court accessory influences, with a head/wrist band style toweling material mixed with a tennis ball feel fabric. Bright red, set off with neon yellow is a brasher look than some of its more muted collaborative siblings, but it’s guaranteed to attract attention, and has been created with Summer wear in mind.
A padded lining means extra comfort for day-to-day wear, and here, beyond the lacetips, logo heel tab and embroidered sockliner, there’s added branding beneath the white midsole, patterned on a dayglo coloured outsole design with a transparent outsole covering.
Undefeated redefined sneaker retail on the west coast with their Los Angeles store. Having rolled out further branches with the same levels of quality control, their prolific number of collaborations is no exception. There’s no recurring formula to their output, other than their consistent appeal. Flipping a luxury look with a timely high-end holdall theme, their Rod Laver is made from a quality sand coloured canvas, with leather detailing that includes the tongue and sockliner.
The subtlety is reinforced by the stitched eyelets, bar the top metallic one, choice of coloured laces, and beige ‘UNDFTD’ on the heel tab of the white midsole, finished with a gum outsole. A perfect product of the Undefeated crew’s environment, this creation goes beyond sporty into smart dress territories.
Whereas mesh was just one focal point and texture on the original Rod Laver. Tokyo’s V.A. have made it pretty much the sole ingredient of their interpretation. Rendered in their now trademark grey and bright yellow, the eyelets are stitched bar a tonal top metal one, adding to the featherweight feel, resulting in one of the lightest variations of this model to date.
Opting to crank up the level of branding, to make up for the singular fabric choice, V.A. break ranks to embroider their logo on the heel alongside the rubberized heel tab. Finished with a white midsole and yellow outsole, this store continues to keep it consistent in terms of both palette and easy-to-wear styling, while ensuring no one would identify this as anything less than a VA creation.