adidas Americana Hi 88

  • MADE ON: --/12
  • ART.NO: Q20355
  • FACTORY: SHW 675001

It’s daunting how much history stands behind the Americana and while we’re privy to the industry talk about who copied who during the earlier years of aggressive and innovative sneaker production, we won’t stoop to speak on other brands here (leaving that to those with a wider spread of sneaker knowledge, outside of the trefoil territory). Instead, we’d like to investigate what adidas is up to, as they continue to re-release an ongoing slew of truly successful vintage models.

Officially said to have been released in 1971, the Americana Low and High silhouettes didn’t actually hit the open market until ’72 and ’73, respectively. Produced primarily for basketball players, the original colorway – revisited in the retro version pictured here – was handed down from the American Basketball Association, and may have been pushed by adidas’ eternal attempt to remain an internationally supported brand (and while we don’t know what provoked the name precisely, it wouldn’t seem to be such a leap of faith to assume that Americana might come from an abbreviation of the above-mentioned American Association).

Potentially inspired by the Shooting Star model from 1970 (or other early ’70s basketball pairs) the overall structure is quite simple, straightforward, honest, and clean. A mixed mesh and leather upper allowed the shoe to be better priced and provide an extra amount of ventilation, keeping players’ feet cool during the game. adidas’ so-called ‘Softprotect’ foam padding could also be found incorporated in the design, and although the shape and cut might appear to be quite plain by today’s standards, these were certainly considered a technological advancement in basketball sneakers at the time.

One of the main, iconic features of the shoe is the toe guard, typically a strip of suede, though also known to have been produced in leather versions as well. This may be a take it or leave it design feature, as for some it might not be found so aesthetically pleasing, however the success of the toe guard is undeniable. An obvious argument towards this opinion is the later release of the Top Ten (1979), which also shared some of the same design features, including (you guessed it) the commonly suede-made toe guard.

Overtime, as with many (if not all) of the popular vintage adidas trainer models, the Americana grew into a place on the casual market. This, for example, can be seen with the obviously non-court versions such as found in the snakeskin pack from 2006. Movements in the sneaker world such as this help to answer our earlier poised question; why exactly is adidas (finally) digging back into their archives and dropping retro versions of old shoes, and many of them for the first time?

No one knows for sure, at least not those on the outside of the brand walls, and of course, sales are definitely a factor (quite probably a large one at that), but we’d lean towards the idea that adidas is reclaiming their image, especially with their Originals releases (possibly helping to further distinguish those products from that of their other, Performance and NEO lines). The Phantom, the Centaur, the Greenstar, the Rivalry, and now the Americana; whether terrace classics, innovative runners, or game-changing basketball shoes, it’s obvious that adidas fans are finally being heard. Now if we could only get the three stripes to drop an absolutely OG-perfect Mutombo (or Mutombo II) we’d be in some real basketball business.

written by Dylan Cromwell

photography by errol