Ich Bin Ein Berliner: A History Lesson on the adidas Berlin
Words: Chris Danforth
Welcome home to the adidas Berlin.
Originally part of the varied and historic adidas City Series, the Berlin returns in its classic “Dark Marine” makeup.
But to understand the adidas Berlin, let’s start a bit further south in Rome. The Rom was a training shoe offered by adidas in the late 1950s, which came out just ahead of the 1960 Olympics held in the Italian capital. Throughout the mid-60s, adidas also introduced models like the Stockholm and the Vienna. Years later for the 1968 Olympics in Mexico City, adidas honored the games by re-christening an existing shoe, when the adidas Jaguar became the adidas Athen.
These initial shoes formed the beginnings of what we now refer to as the City Series. Consisting of a range of indoor training shoes that share the same simple design and low profile, the City Series range paid homage to some of the great European capitals. Over time, sporadic releases started to coalesce into something greater, into a collection of models.
Officially under the City Series banner, adidas introduced the London as a leisure shoe near the end of the 1970s. Shortly after, the London’s silhouette served as the basis for several sister shoes named in honor of other European cities. To complement the London, adidas served up the Dublin in blue and red, the Cologne in royal blue and white, and the adidas Berlin in a dark blue and white scheme.
Collector and enthusiast @Dasslersfinest tells HHV, “adidas models with a city name first started appearing over 60 years ago. There were versions of Rom, Stockholm, Vienna, and others from the late ‘50s into the ‘60s. Most people associate the term City Series with the more familiar suede models from the 1970s. Stockholm, London, Köln, and Berlin are some of the most popular.”
Naturally, part of the popularity of the City Series is owed to a very simple reason. If you’re from Stockholm, London, Köln, or Berlin, there’s a certain novelty and cool factor when wearing a shoe emblazoned with the name of your city. This city pride is amplified further within the context of European football rivalries, and some casuals were eager to adopt City Series shoes into their dress codes to show support for their team, alongside other adidas models that were similarly popular like the Samba.
Since the start of Spezial in 2014, City Series has been the focus of renewed interest from adidas fans, collectors, and football casuals alike. Although the Spezial collection isn’t issuing one-to-one remakes of the City Series, Spezial does capture the essence and feel of the expansive range. City highlights from the Spezial range include the München and the New York.
Speaking about the Berlin, Dassler’s Finest goes on to note, “The Berlin suede model was first introduced over 40 years ago. Most of the suede city models are uncomplicated, they pretty much go with most [football] casual outfits. While the suede Stockholm model is probably the most popular model, the Berlin is up there with a few others as the most recognizable.”
One quirky aspect of the Berlin is a unique variation with upside-down “Berlin” lettering. “Apparently the upside-down Berlin font is based on an original sample pair from decades ago and appears on a reissued model from about 5 years ago. The current reissue reverts back to a traditional font,” Dassler’s Finest explains.
Ultimately, the cult following of the adidas City Series is the result of a simple formula: understated designs that allow adidas fans to wear their pride for their city on their feet, no matter if you’re a Berliner, a Londoner, or a Stockholmer.
The adidas Berlin is now available at HHV.