Three stripes and you’re in

Published: 18th July 2022

ADIDAS X GUCCI: THREE STRIPES AND YOU’RE IN

The new fashion-meets-sportswear collection between two legendary brands is perfect for the hybrid times we live in.

By Peter Howarth 

There are few names in sportswear that have a heritage as rich as the German creators of athletic footwear and apparel adidas, a firm founded in 1924 by the brothers Dassler in their mother’s house in Bavaria. The origin stories of now world-famous brands are always fascinating, because they speak of personal passion and commitment, of personality and inspiration. And whatever the trajectory of these special companies over the decades, and even centuries, the seed that was planted at the very beginning is still there, reminding those engaged in the ventures today of why the brands came into being in the first place.

Three years before Adolf Dassler and his brother Rudolf began developing modern spiked running shoes (their handmade track shoes would famously be worn by Jesse Owens at the 1936 Olympics, where he won four gold medals, more than any other athlete competing), another man with a dream set up a business in a city in European near-neighbour Italy. In 1921, Guccio Gucci, who had returned from working as a luggage porter at London’s Savoy Hotel with the idea of creating luxury luggage in his hometown of Florence, like the Dasslers, established what would become a world-beating venture. Today, Gucci is, of course, a byword for fashion, style, quality and, perhaps most of all, creative invention.

The pioneering nature of Gucci’s work has in recent years been the result of the vision of Alessandro Michele, Creative Director of the brand, an unassuming Roman who channels a Romanticism that sees the poetic potential in contemporary life. In design terms, Michele is a cherry-picker, taking his inspiration from multiple sources – including the firm’s extensive and rich archive, and his personal and eclectic interest in everything from Renaissance history to the Sex Pistols and hiking and camping trips – and fashioning them into a thoroughly contemporary look. The past is always present in Michele’s work, but not as a pastiche or a homage, but as a memory that lives on in new forms.

And it is this quality of compressing time, dreams, imaginings and projections that has led Alessandro Michele to adidas, a brand that he has loved since his youth, when, like kids the world over, the iconic Trefoil logo, launched in 1971 – and the three stripes it accompanied – became a badge of membership of a type of youth culture. 

Now Michele has revisited adidas to bring together its emblems with those of Gucci, in a fresh and exciting mash-up of Italian sartorial style and athletic streetwear.

The collection debuted at the Exquisite Gucci fashion show in February of this year, which was staged in the Gucci Hub in Milan. The pieces from the partnership that were showcased on the runway were a taster of the full collection, which now launches, expanding on the sports-inspired theme of those preview designs. Exquisite Gucci presented a kaleidoscopic aesthetic and this has been used as inspiration for the colourful spirit of these clothes and accessories. The look is expressed perfectly in a set of images shot by Dutch Paris-based photographer Carlijn Jacobs. In these, Alessandro Michele wished to reference archival sports catalogues, and so Gucci’s cast of characters adopt dynamic, graphic poses against brightly coloured studio backdrops, accompanied by sporty props and equipment like an exercise bike, dumbbells, chest expander and tennis racquet.

Interestingly, both Gucci and adidas have a three-stripe motif embedded in their visual identities. These designs speak of brand heritage, of course, but provide a powerful graphic language for the collection. Stripes play out across the clothing pieces, which have the silhouettes of athletic and leisurewear staples: track pants feature the white three stripes of adidas on one leg, while the other is decorated with the green-red-green Web stripe of Gucci; and this game of contrasts between the two three-stripe designs recurs throughout the collection. Elsewhere, adidas’ Trefoil and three stripes, both synonymous with streetwear, mix with Gucci’s Interlocking G, Horsebit, Web stripe and GG monogrammed canvas throughout clothing and accessories, establishing a brand new, striking and playful visual vocabulary. 

To underscore a shared commitment at Gucci and adidas to innovation, progress, sustainability goals and collective action, the collection features many pieces crafted using future-conscious material fabrications incorporating polyester, cotton and viscose.

The tracksuit is a key theme within the collection and is reimagined in multiple ways, with shorts and jogger pants for women, or flared pants and a bowling shirt for men, all designed to be mixed or matched. Tennis-inspired polos, sweater vests, skirts and a knit dress bring a more sophisticated mood to the selection, while graphic T-shirts in cotton, featuring the adidas Trefoil underlined with Gucci lettering, make great basics.

Even conventionally formal pieces like leather heels, Gucci’s famous Horsebit loafers in suede and silk scarves enter into the spirit of the new conversation between fashion and sportswear and are marked with the casual codes of the collection. Additionally, silk squares, headbands, bucket hats and baseball caps complement the clothing, as do a selection of golf bags in either leather or the GG monogram with the adidas x Gucci logo. Colourful umbrellas feature the distinctive palette and patterns of the partnership, while the Gucci Horsebit 1955 crossbody and tote bags, defined by the equestrian-inspired hardware that is so associated with the Italian House, are reimagined with the adidas Trefoil. Meanwhile, luggage, clogs and slides also get the adidas x Gucci treatment. And for those who love trainers, there is an exciting Gucci take on the famous adidas Gazelle sneaker for both men and women.

Notably, throughout, retro aesthetics are co-opted and reformulated in a contemporary way. Once again, Gucci proclaims that there are no rules when it comes to dressing up. 

And this is important at the moment, when a hybrid wardrobe makes perfect sense for the hybrid lifestyle that is emerging, where the boundaries between work and leisure, and weekday- and weekend-wear, are blurring. This new collection, which inventively brings together two names considered to be best-in-class in their respective fields, feels like it is a perfect response to the times we live in.

The adidas x Gucci collection launches on 7th June in select Gucci stores, dedicated pop-ups and online, as well as on the adidas CONFIRMED app.