A stretched analogy
I want to talk to you about the Adidas Powerphase but first allow me to paint you a picture. The year is 2002, and the first Spider-Man film just came out. Toby Maguire starred, and at the time, we were all happy with it. Staying true to the essence of the comic, Maguire lasted three films as Spider-Man, peaking with the second, then declining with the third. Fast forward five years from Spider-Man 3 to 2012 and they are at it again. New leading man, shiny new effects, but ultimately the same Spider-Man we all know and love. The Amazing Spider-Man doesn’t do badly at all and Andrew Garfield does OK.
The kids who don’t remember 2002 are fans in 2012 and once again the bigwigs at the production companies are sitting on a heap of cash at the box office. Naturally due to its success, two years later, 2014, it got itself a sequel. Now, this is where I begin to lose interest. A further three years on and we get a trailer starring a young Tom Holland as a web-swinging vigilante saving lives in New York City and guess what, it’s called Spider-Man: Home Coming. Same Spider-Man, different actor, but primarily the same superhero high jinx of the previous five Spider-Man films. The only difference being its clear and blatant objective – to piggyback on the success of the widely lucrative and obsessively followed “Marvel Universe”.
What I am trying to get across is that we live in a world that has seen three Spider-Man reboots. Cover songs at number 1, and an endless obsession with sequels. The necessity for commercial success has led to “good ideas” being cultivated and then resewn again and again. In an attempt to squeeze every last morsel of perceived value from them, but at what cost? At what point does the source material’s reputation begin to diminish as a result of half-arsed imitations and careless recreations. How far can you push an audience with what many consider as essentially, money for old rope.
The release of the Adidas Powerphase
You may think the fashion industry would be immune to falling foul of these traits. After all, more than ever before, creativity and individuality is celebrated and revered. With no idea in a modern context to ‘out there’, and no project void of expression, thought, and meaning. Well, you’d like to think so anyway…but unfortunately, on March 1st 2019 Adidas is launching a “new” shoe called the Powerphase. For me, this is when the alarm bells started ringing. Not because of the shoe’s aesthetic, or any glaring shortcoming in its design, but due to the overwhelming and unignorable sense that we have been here before.
The mid-1980s Adidas Power Phase
The Adidas Powerphase, if you weren’t already aware, is a shoe that dates back to the mid-1980s. The only difference being Power Phase was two words back then, as opposed to the one we see today. The shoe’s origin story very much took place in a world where Reebok was the dominant force. As a result, the Adidas Power Phase was released as the Three Stripes answer to the wildly popular and now Hall of Fame sitting Reebok Workout, and the similarities are there for all to see. For this vintage model to be getting a revamp is nothing to be mad about.
After all, it is something that Air Jordan has made a habit of since the brand’s inception, and we lap up every retro Air Jordan 1 release without batting an eyelid. The nostalgia a classic trainer model evokes for some people is one I certainly buy into. Even if the original shoe predates my existence. The reason I am still buying Reebok Workouts or Air Jordan 6 Infrared rereleases in 2019 is because it feels like you are part of the history of the culture when you lace up these kicks. The problem I have with the Adidas Powerphase is that this reboot feels cheap, uninspired, and something I have already fallen for as recently as 2017.
The Yeezy Powerphase Calabasas
As in 2017, I decided to purchase a pair of newly released Yeezy Powerphase Calabasas. Kanye West’s take on the mid-80’s icon and I was pleased with what I had bought into. It hit all the nostalgic notes I was searching for while still feeling like a new trainer. Most likely down to the Yeezy hype train I am not ashamed to have been (and still am) a part of. The Yeezy Powerphase Calabasas shares a lot with its source material. It feels to this day like a respectful restoration of a classic.
For this reason, it still has a place in my rotation. It stays true to the model’s history but recreates it with modern materials, techniques and technology. That is why it makes sense, and that is why The Amazing Spider-Man made sense. However much you loved Toby Maguire in 2002 for some people, the visual effects just don’t hold up. That is why you can make a case for a reboot, and that hypothesis transcends when talking about the Powerphase.
one for the price of three?
What is still leaving me scratching my head, is why there is a need to do it again? From what I can glean from release material and images online the March 2019 release of the Adidas Powerphase, which is dropping in ‘Ecru Tint’ and ‘Cloud White’ colourways, is almost identical to the Yeezy variant which debuted two years prior. Only minus the ‘Calabasas’ branding and Kanye West endorsement. It’s not even as if the Yeezy Calabasas is ridiculously expensive in comparison – with all three colourways available below retail price currently on the secondary market.
So this move by Adidas in my eyes can be seen as nothing less than a lazy effort to once again cash in on a historical trainer without taking the care and attention deserving of something so memorable. I was just about getting used to the idea of having Andrew Garfield as Spider-Man, when I saw Tom Holland take the reigns. Which unfortunately and inadvertently made me stop feeling as connected to the character. This Adidas Powerphase has had the same effect.
This is not even to mention the Adidas Continental 80 which is for all intents and purposes an Adidas Power Phase wearing a Groucho disguise. Not to mention the underlying truth, the elephant in the room: all four of the aforementioned Adidas designs are based on the Reebok Workout. So that alone is why I have pushed my Yeezy Calabasas down the pecking order, and just copped myself a pair of Workouts. At the end of the day, I’d take the Spider-Man comics over the films any day, and in this instance I feel Adidas should stop trying to sell me something you simply can’t beat, and stick to selling me something I haven’t seen.
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