Gary Aspden’s adidas SPEZIAL Continues To Deliver For SS24

This year, adidas SPEZIAL is celebrating its tenth anniversary. During this time the premium adidas sub-line, curated by Gary Aspden, has gone from IYKYK brand to one of the most hard-to-get collections of the extensive three-striped family.

For Pre-Spring 2024, a collection showcased by Top Boy’s Ashley Walters, Aspden is reflecting on SPEZIAL’s past, present, and future with an offering that’s both contemporary and traditional in equal measure.

“We were aware that expectations were going to be raised due to it being the tenth anniversary year,” Aspden told Highsnobiety.

“We aimed to get a balance between the tenth anniversary bring-backs of products that have been popular, while also pushing a number of new silhouettes.”

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“We often talk about how the SPEZIAL range is archive-inspired,” he continued. “However, with the SPEZIAL apparel we have built an extension of the core adidas archive with a number of new apparel pieces that have become collectible and iconic over the past decade.”

Walters, who produced and starred in Top Boy, fronts this season’s SPEZIAL campaign almost two decades after he first teamed up with adidas back in the early 2000s during his music days.

“My relationship with adidas started many years ago at the same time of the rise of So Solid Crew,” he said. “They had an open-door policy for all artists and have always been engrained in culture.”

“That being the case, shooting for adidas SPEZIAL is a big honour. To have such an esteemed brand ask me to support them is surreal. Big up the whole team for making me feel so welcome.”

This season’s offering comprises seven new footwear silhouettes including the Gazelle SPZL, an 80s-inspired Whitworth SPZL, and the Handball Pro SPZL, which references the upper of a lesser-known adidas handball silhouette discovered in the archives by Aspden.

“We have created a new shoe from the Handball family called the Handball Pro SPZL,” explains Aspden.

“We had no idea 18 months ago, when we were briefing adidas, that the classic Handball SPEZIAL was going to become massively popular with a new and younger audience. So I guess by coincidence we’ve made a shoe that’s an offshoot of an ‘on-trend’ shoe right now.”

Elsewhere there’s also the Wensley SPZL, which has been realised in a light brown colorway with a revised padded tongue, especially for the label’s 10th anniversary.

SPEZIAL, though, isn’t all about footwear. During the past decade, the brand has rejuvenated a plethora of archival adidas garments with contemporary twists, something that’s proven popular across the globe.

This season, adidas SPEZIAL brings back the Todmorden Smock, a style first released in Spring/Summer 2021 that immediately sold out, two lightweight jackets – the Trentham and the Wingrove – and the matching Angelzarke track top and track pants.

This SPEZIAL collection, which lands online April 4, is another example of Aspden’s accomplished eye for reinventing heritage designs, but it also a testament to him as a designer that the brand is still going strong ten years in.

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For Aspden, though, the fact SPEZIAL is still riding the wave in an industry so congested runs deeper than just making nice stuff — it’s about everything that comes with it, too.

“Fashion is cyclical and when it comes to classic designs the popularity will always come back around eventually — that’s how I personally define classic design. We had moments of doubt where we questioned ourselves but stayed in our lane and trusted that devoted adidas fans would support the whole SPZL concept if we kept with our original idea.

“We are grateful for the community who have stuck with us this far and to the people inside adidas who have supported our vision. We now find ourselves in a situation where adidas is having a real moment, particularly here in the UK.”

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