The History Behind the Cult Favorite German Army Trainer That Inspired Maison Margiela & adidas

From boot camp to Paris Fashion Week.

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Footwear
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Sometimes less is indeed more, or so goes the story with the discreet, unbranded cult Germany Army Trainer. Beginning its life as standard issue military footwear for the standing forces of the Germany army before the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989, the German Army Trainer has gone on to quietly creep into the modern fashion vocabulary with its lack of pretentiousness and agreeable off-white upper and gum sole, with everyone from the likes of Maison Margiela, Dior Homme and adidas producing their own versions of the silhouette. Paying homage to the sneaker is Luke Leitch of The Wall Street Journal, recounting a love affair with the clean design that began on MR PORTER and has garnered him praise from the famously sneaker-hating Manolo Blahnik. Read an excerpt below and head here for the full article.

I soon realized the [Germany Army Trainer] has more conflicting histories than the Caucasus. The GAT design is generally attributed to Adidas, and an Adidas spokesperson confirmed that the company designed a trainer, called the BW-Sport, that the Federal German Army issued its men and women in the ’80s and ’90s. However, a spokesperson from the Bundeswehr History Museum in Dresden said they only had records that the design was made by Puma—the company started by Rudolf Dassler after he split with brother Adi Dassler (founder of Adidas)—at least in the testing phase. Another discombobulating twist: Puma told me it has no records of a shoe made for the government. And—pah!—forget studying a surplus sneaker for clues. Since they were made for a government agency, there is zero branding.

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