Adidas Trinidad and Tobago – where have all the holes gone?

The new Trinidad re-issue is here, but which one is it?

Adidas Trinidad sole supplier
Fig 1

So the last of the island series re-issues has finally made it into the shops and it must come as a major relief all round for the Originals team. It’s been a bit of a mission. It would be fair to say this series has had its fair share of problems, you only have to read the feedback comments on the Adidas website under each one of the series to see there are a lot of unhappy punters out there. And frankly if an ordinary boy-about-town is paying £75 a pop for a pair of trainers (almost a day’s pay) they deserve top notch.

All the re-issues seem to have had the same recurring problems mainly to do with the poor quality of manufacture and finish. Everything from glue stains on the suede to insoles becoming detached, black marks on the uppers, soles themselves falling apart, material too light and flimsy and of generally disappointing quality. This could be down to where the shoes are being made. Adidas have contracted out their manufacture to Far East countries – mainly China, Vietnam, Indonesia etc because production costs and wages are so low, which translates as a bigger profit for the parent company (most recent published figures show Adidas made a profit of £556 million in 2012). The results though are often shoddy goods as workers suffer appalling factory conditions. And this seems to be a problem that is pretty universal across the board, rather than an isolated rogue batch. General rule for all you multi-million pound global corporate brands – pay your workers decent wages you will get a decent finished product.

Having said all that the Trinidad is a smart looking trainer. It’s a soft surf red colour with core black stripes and heel tab finished off with gum soles. (The rumour that is was going to be called The Maine Road as part of the Colour Fuck-up range has been vigorously denied by the marketing department). What it does do is sit nicely with the other colours in the range – one thing you can say for Adidas is they’ve turned the technique of dyeing suede into an art form. Whatever the issues surrounding the series the Trinidad does look good on the foot.

Even better than the real thing
Adidas proudly boasts in its promotional blurb that the Trinidad is an “exact re-issue”. Question is an exact re-issue of what? What is the original, how did it look? And more to the point whatever happened to all the holes?

Let’s be clear what we’re talking about. The pre-release press shots sent out in July featured trainers with four holes running in between each stripe [see Fig 1]. They also had the word TRINIDAD in gold lettering along the back stripe, and the heel tab was the more familiar rounded design and the stitching on the upper was at a right angle, plus the stitching on the tongue followed the cut of the tongue. On reflection it looks very similar to the Adidas Tobacco silhouette.

Clearly this was not the same shoe that was presented to the public on Oct 30 2015 [see Fig 2], stripped of all the defining features mentioned above it was in essence a completely different design that made it into the shops (apart from the collar lining on both is black).

Now here’s where it gets complicated. Searching online for images of the original Trinidads two distinct options crop up. First are some old-skool battered Trinidads that clearly have four holes, gold lettering etc [see Fig 3], the only distinction is the collar lining is red. The other older-skool battered Trinidads clearly don’t have four holes, gold lettering etc [see Fig 4]. These are from the original Made in France edition and have a brown collar lining.

Now it could be Adidas are claiming the re-issues are the exact re-issue of the Made in France Trinidads, which is fair enough. Question is what on earth are the re-issues with the four holes and gold lettering doing? Where have they come from, and where are they now?

What you give is what you get
It’s all a bit of a mystery, and to be honest does anyone really give a toss?  If the ones in the shops look this good, and all the young shavers don’t remember the original (which is most of us anyway) what does it matter what Adidas put out? Fair point but there is an old-fashioned working class ethic of getting things right – if you’re going to do something, do it properly.

The island series made its name and reputation on the back of the old football casuals – ordinary working class lads who went out of their way to create an identity for themselves in a society who looked down on them and treated them like shit. If you’re a fashion company selling something based on the cultural legacy of previous generations, isn’t it worth doing it properly? Heritage is built on the foundations of authenticity, dug deep into the psyche where brand loyalty meets a sense of rightful ownership. These were our trainers, we made them what they are, so say those who took their love of football and fashion as a statement of intent against a hostile world.

Does it feel like Adidas are taking the piss? Often yes. Look at the debacle that was the Stretford release. They’ll accept any old shit as long as it has the three stripes.

The marketing could have been done with much more integrity, in keeping with the attitude of those who will lap up the island series on the back of its reputation and history created, uniquely, by those working class footie fans who have invested so much of their own cultural identity into it. There’s a beautiful image online [see Fig 5] of the Made in France originals sitting alongside the present day Trinidads. There’s a father and son look about it. Passing it on to the next generation. It captures, more than anything associated with the Adidas campaign (which seems to have simply targeted the sellers, the unit shifters, the outlets), that moment of unspoken acknowledgement that history isn’t simply the art of reproduction, it’s what we take with us, and what we treasure is the memory that remains.

Treat your customers with respect, we’ve earned it.

Fig 2
Fig 3
trinidad-hawaii-samoa MIFr1
Fig 4 Trinidad (Made in France), Samoa, Hawaii
Fig 5

Related articles:





Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s