THE ADIDAS BERLIN: An Indelible Imprint in the City Series Legacy 24 March 2023
To commemorate the launch of 2023’s adidas “Berlin”, END. takes a look back at the history of the wider City Series and the sneaker’s place in its legacy.
Throughout the past half a century, trying to imagine terrace culture without adidas at its forefront would be an impossible feat. Its sneakers, by and large, have been definitive in establishing the codes of what terrace footwear is, with clean cut, low-profile silhouettes feverishly admired and collected the world over.
Consistent throughout this movement has been something that represents not just one of the most important — and longest running — footwear series in adidas’ history, but terrace culture in general. That is, of course, adidas’ much-loved City Series: a continual homage to iconic global cities and a celebration of design refinement and stripped-back aesthetics. It’s a series that has reverberated throughout terrace culture and the movements that coexist alongside it, with the City Series representing a mainstay in fashion, music and football.
The story of the City Series as we know it today truly began in the early 1970s with the advent of the European City Series, though there were important stepping stones made prior to that, such as the “Rom” training shoe created in dedication to the Rome Olympics in 1960. The original City Series represented a love letter to 24 different European cities, with a sneaker dedicated to each one by name, colourway and spirit. The sneakers were limited in their numbers, bespoke and city-specific in their colours and intricate in their detailing — a trio of factors that has led to the City Series being coveted for its collector’s status. From there, the City Series would expand beyond its European origins, with the North American Series arriving in the late 1970s.
One such sneaker that’s integral to the City Series’ history is the Berlin: a stripped-back, terrace-focused shoe that debuted in 1980 as a celebration of the famous city. Much like the rest of the “City Series”, the Berlin represented an exercise in iterative design, boasting that clean-cut, casual aesthetic that makes the sneakers so sought after. All of the trademark features were there, ranging from the low-profile shape right down to the signature T toebox. While other City Series releases were given colour schemes inspired by the flags of the countries they nodded to, the Berlin was much less direct in its approach, with a two-tone blue used across its plush suede uppers.
Since its initial release, the “Berlin” has been brought back under the spotlight on a number of occasions — like END.’s Made in Germany exclusive at the end of last year — though this has been selective and infrequent in keeping with the Series’ allure. This year, the sneaker is making its return in its OG form, bringing with it all the traits that make the sneaker an indelible imprint on the legacy of the City Series.
Collegiate Navy & Pantone