REVISITING FRANKFURT'S SCARCITY W/GARY ASPDEN
The adidas Frankfurt was released in the mid 1980’s as part of The Three Stripes now iconic City Series collection.
Rumoured to originally have appeared a round-toed take on the popular Hamburg silhouette, with a PU sole and a synthetic upper reminiscent of the adidas Madrid, the Frankfurt would eventually transform into the more muted, classic incarnation that we know today.
With a velcro fastening, a feature which makes it a unique shoe in the City Series, and likely only manufactured in West Germany, and Yugoslavia, the Frankfurt was one of the rarer shoes from the series, and wasn’t available in the UK at the time of its release. Whilst other City Series shoes used a more basic T-toed silhouette and lace-up fastening, the Frankfurt stands alone as the only shoe in the series to adopt a velcro fastening.
It’s more popular Germanic relatives, Hamburg, Berlin, and München, all took centre stage, whilst Frankfurt was for the lucky few who knew someone importing adidas, or stumbled across them on a trip to mainland Europe. Those who wanted something different, and were willing to go out of their way to get it.
The Frankfurt’s scarcity, then and now, has ensured it’s maintained a cult status amongst adidas collectors, and the re-issue of the shoe pays fitting homage to its place in collector’s hearts. We spoke to Gary Aspden, adidas expert and collector, and the man who owned the original pair of Frankfurt on which this re-issue is based.
“I’ve got so many pairs of shoes, and it’s really difficult to keep track of where I got them all from, but I’m pretty certain I swapped the Frankfurt with a collector from Manchester.
I honestly don’t really remember ever seeing anyone in a pair in the 1980s, to tell you the truth. The City Series have sort of become the defining shoes of casual culture, when actually there was only a handful of styles that I remember people wearing at the time. A lot of it was coming out of Oasis in Manchester, and I’m guessing Wade Smith in Liverpool. The shoes that I really remember people wearing were Dublins and Stockholms, but apart from that it was very unlikely to see some of these styles in the UK.
The thing with the City Series, which is interesting is that it was a consumer created name.
When all these shoes were being released, adidas never billed them as the City Series, they just made shoes with the names of cities on. It was only when collector’s forums started up, that they were branded “the city series”, and eventually the company adopted it. It was a way of consumers grouping these shoes together, and it’s taken on a life of its own now. That was created by collectors, and people who were really into the shoes.”
Whilst in the mid-80s, being into adidas meant going to great lengths to get rare, and hard-to find trainers, lesser-loved silhouettes, and cult classics, from the adidas archive are now readily researched at the click of a button. It’s almost as if the rarer the shoe, the more people are interested in not only owning a pair, but understanding the back story, knowing about the original, and understanding where it came from. We asked Gary what he thinks gave birth to this thirst for knowledge around adidas in particular.
“A lot of the city series shoes gained prominence because of the internet. It gave people access to things they hadn’t been able to see before. It’s exactly the same, with this shoe, as it was with the Japanese München and the Japanese Berlin, how could the average kid on a football terrace in the UK in the 1980’s have seen those shoes? Or even in the 1990’s? They were unlikely to, until the rise of the internet.
There’s no definitive source for the history of adidas. Each territory, and each licensee has their own unique history with the brand. The internet has sort of pulled a lot of that together unofficially, and it was during the rise of collector’s forums online when some of these shoes were brought more into the public consciousness. Prior to that they had been a really niche thing.”
Frankfurt sits alongside a host of iconic European cities that had shoes named after them during the same period, and is sought-after amongst collectors for its scarcity, what are the main reasons for that, is it simply that it looks a bit different to those iconic models.
“I think the story is, that this shoe existed in the 80’s, and it was extremely niche then. It was definitely one of the rarer models, that would have been extremely difficult to get hold of. The velcro fastening gave it a look that made it even more of a niche shoe.
There was a massive thing in the 90’s with velcro fastenings on Stan Smiths, that were being parallel imported through Duffer. Prior to that it had been a bit of a late ‘70’s look, and whilst there were styles like the Frankfurt and the Dallas, velcro fastenings seemed to pass the 80’s by, which probably explains why this style was overlooked style at the time.
Their reputation has been amplified by collectors over the last thirty years or so, and even if they were overshadowed by bigger sellers, they definitely hold a unique place at the heart of the city series, for the look of the shoe, and the velcro fastening alone.”
So, if it’s the look and feel of the Frankfurt that made it so special in the first place, how close is the re-issue to the original from your archive, Gary?
“Very. It’s very close.”
The adidas Frankfurt will be available to purchase online from 06 JUNE 20