Upon release, the adidas Originals Tubular Runner instantly became iconic for its stripped-back, contemporary look. Upheld by comfort and style, the modern runner was the next logical step for the German sporting heavyweights as it blended cues from the Y-3 Qasa along with elements from ZX FLUX and other accents found in adidas Originals’ replete archive. Combining heritage, fashion and performance, the Tubular’s clean makeup is complemented by ZX’s gilly and heel stabilizer and supportive EVA sole unit that loops around to offer an added layer of cushioning – overall presenting a dynamic silhouette pivoted by Originals’ design DNA. We caught up with VP of Global Design, Nick Galway who designed both the Qasa and Tubular Runner, to learn more about the unique elements behind both sneakers and how they coincide with the brand’s ethos.
What was the design brief behind the Tubular Runner?
There was no marketing brief for the Tubular. When we created the Qasa, we made a number of design-led prototypes and one of them was very close to what you see today. Everyone who saw the prototype felt we had to make it in Originals and that’s how the project came to life.
Where does the Tubular Runner find its inspiration?
I have always been inspired by brands with deep heritage, which is one of the reasons I love working for adidas. For Tubular, I wanted to explore some of the briefs from our archive and look at how they could be approached today using modern technologies. What really inspired me was a series of prototypes of the original 90s Tubular shoes, they are quite crude in many ways but showed the process the engineers went through and how complex the final product became. For the new Tubular I wanted to strip this back to the initial idea of suspending the foot over a tire-like tube.
From a construction perspective, what can you tell us about the Tubular Runner? What’s the story behind the fit?
The Tubular is very simple in its construction; a sock-fit upper suspended over a dual density EVA tube sole. We combined the sock with welded toe overlays and the ZX gilly and heel stabilizer to give a dynamic fit, which works really well in combination with the sole unit. The overall result is a very modern construction that is grounded in the collective memory of the Originals DNA.
Is it fair to say that Y-3 represents adidas’ platform for lifestyle innovation before it trickles down into more wide-spread aspects of the brand, such as Originals (i.e. F1 technology finding its way into commercial cars)?
Yes, I think that’s a good way of looking at it. When I came back into Y-3 as the Design Director around 4 years ago I saw the need to move on from the pure fashion sneaker approach and to reconnect with the pioneering approach of the brand. We started to take more risks and create product that was more challenging to start debate and test new ideas. What was really exciting and rewarding for us was that actually this approach really reignited interest in Y-3 and was also backed up in the selling numbers. With my new position I also see the possibility to extend this approach into our top level Originals collections.
adidas Originals was originally rooted in retro releases and designs, how has the brand’s ethos and approach changed over the last few seasons, with the introduction of new models?
adidas has always been a pioneering brand, the products that make up our archive have now found their place in sneaker culture but were highly innovative in their day. The retro releases will always remain a key part of Originals but we also see great opportunity to create new progressive product, which is grounded in Originals DNA but continues to innovate sneaker culture and push it forward.
How does adidas maintain a sense of cohesion given the diversity of the Originals line – from retros like the Gazelle to new models such as the Tubular Runner?
We often talk about the collective memory of Originals – by this we mean the things that connect people to our brand. It could be as simple as a sneaker from our past, or a moment in time that creates that connection. Our history is so rich, from the classic sneakers to the athletes and entertainers who have worn them. The challenge for us is to identify these connections and use them to both honor the past but also to provide the foundation for exploration for the future.