He’s a twenty-eight year old Polish surgeon from Kielce with one of the most impressive vintage adidas runner collectors we’ve seen on Instragram and Flickr for a while. Four years before his ‘specialist in surgery’ exams, Jerzy’s got a side-focus that keeps him busy when he’s cutting people open under the bright operating table lights.
Collecting shoes since 2004 he moved his focus over to adidas about two or three years ago and since then he hasn’t turned back on the infamous German trainer-meisters. Considering our equal love of the brand – and especially their blasts from the past – we had to catch Jerzy in an off-call moment and bring him in for questioning.
A surgeon who collects trainers, that’s a first for us! Are you even allowed to wear runners to work?
Sure I am and sometimes I do, but I have to tell you I usually dress more formally to work. Wearing high-tech runners isn’t considered appropriate for a young but serious surgeon.
Jokes aside, do you see any overlap in the medicine and sportswear / fashion industries? For example, are you the only one in the hospital that has such a lust for footwear?
I think the main connection between medicine and sneakers is most obvious: by giving you the knowledge about anatomy of your feet, about every joint and muscle, medicine helps you to understand the physiology of movement and by this helps to choose the right footwear. Of course it’s most helpful when you’re a runner, but I’m sure everyone likes and usually chooses the most comfortable shoes. And unfortunately I don’t know any other doctors that are sneakerheads, especially in Poland, but I’m sure there are more of us.
What were you like when you first started collecting?
I had no idea what “collecting shoes” or “sneakerhead” meant. I only liked nice and comfortable shoes. I was into hip-hop culture and hip-hop fashion, so it started from there, especially with adidas Superstars of course. And then the collection grew and changed, and grew and changed more. But I have to tell you that I’ve still kept some of my first basketball shoes.
And now? Do you think that through your years of collecting you have gained a lot of knowledge on adidas runners?
After eight or nine years I’m at a point of no return, deeply addicted to collecting shoes with the three stripes. You know, it all really started for me much earlier than those eight or nine years ago. Back in the ’80s and ’90s my brother, Piotrek, had a lot of adidas runners. I still remember gems like the adidas ZX 8000 from 1989 or the adidas Equipment Cushion from 1992. And it was my brother who gave me my first pair of running shoes. It was in 1992 and the shoes were the adidas Tech Road. I remember them as being the most durable shoes I ever owned! Anyway, about four or five years ago, after realizing I was a sneaker collector, Piotrek started to bring back the memories about adidas shoes from the past. And I think, for me, the real collecting started from this moment, thanks to him. Nice and moving story, I know!
No, it is, that’s definitely cool when you can share your passions with your family. As far as the worldwide sneaker family goes, I think we all know of the City series, but could you tell us if there was a US States series, containing shoes such as the adidas Louisiana that you have in your collection?
Well, I don’t know if you can call it a series like the famous European City series from the ’70s (you know, the Dublin, Malmö, Berlin, Bern, London, etc.), but of course adidas made a couple of models named after US States in the 1980s. Louisiana was one of them, the others were shoes like well-known Oregon, and less popular Nevada, Florida, or Arizona. Generally people at adidas liked those “place names”, and throughout the ’70s and ’80s there were many series of sneakers named after German, European, or US cities and places.
For a larger release family, what can you tell us about all the ZX models that you’ve come across?
Hmm, let me put it this way: the ZX series was introduced in 1984 as a collection of technologically advanced running shoes covering all a runner’s needs, from jogging to long-distance running to off-road running. The series lasted for five years, started from models in the hundreds and ended on the thousands. Each shoe was constructed using newly developed systems, from Dellinger web cushioning, to Vario and Ghilly speed lacing systems, the Double Lacing System, various density midsoles constructed of TPU, PU, Microcellular PU, Purolite, and so on and so on. The most known models from the early ZX series are of course the ZX 500, ZX 600, ZX 700, or ZX 800, and that’s because of the retros. But the real “diamonds” like the ZX 220, ZX 710 or my favorite, the ZX 930, are less known. I think there were nineteen or twenty models with double zeros, but you have to forgive me, I don’t have the patience to list them all right here in front of you! The real revolution came in 1988 and 1989, when the Kevlar Torsion system was introduced, along with Soft Cell cushioning, Polypag structural mesh, and hardened rubber Continental Monza F1 outsoles. Moreover, since 1988 the magical letters C, S, and G were added to the thousands models. Those shoes were divided into three groups: Cushioning, Support, and Guidance (each signified by its accompanying letter). Everyone knows the “killing blue” ZX 8000C or ZX 9000S, but again, my favorite models like the ZX 1000C, ZX 2000G, ZX 3000C (my holy grails, still searching for them!) or ZX 4500S are a bit forgotten. There was also a series of racing runners, the RX series, developed in 1989 too. I think that’s enough about ZX runners, hm?
Certainly is, your knowledge is encyclopedic Jerzy! Quite impressive to say the least. What can you tell us about the adidas Fire from ’87?
Ahhh, adidas since 1970s developed many sneakers with variable cushioning systems. I think everyone knows shoes like L.A. Trainers or Keglers with the Peg system. Fire was another attempt to create a sneaker with adjustable cushioning. Instead of Pegs there were Pads of three densities – hard, medium, and soft. Simply by replacing the pads runners could “set” the cushioning according to their weight or the terrain they were planning to run on. Cushioning pads were introduced in 1984.
As for other ‘novelty’ enhanced sneakers, what can you tell us about the adidas Tubular 2?
It’s another example of adidas shoe with variable cushioning system. Tubular system was introduced in 1993 and its concept was taken from car tires. The outsole was made of rubber chambers that contained pressurized air. To each pair an electrical pump was attached, and it was used to control the pressure in the chambers. And by this you could adjust the cushioning and stability to your own needs. Smart! There were two types of Tubular systems: Tubular 2, containing two chambers in the rearfoot, and Tubular 4, with two additional chambers in the forefoot. adidas Tubular 4 and especially adidas Radical Tubular (with Tubular 4 system) are now extremely rare and cost a fortune when listed on eBay. Most of the Radical Tubulars were given out to athletes sponsored by adidas, for example Steffi Graf or German footballers.
Last up for the specific sneaker questions, what can you tell us about those purple Torsion Precisions S’s from ’92?
They’re part of the famous Torsion series from the early ’90s. Equipped with the Kevlar Torsion system, Soft Cell, Vario speed lacing, and thick, double density midsole that offered additional support.
Now after all that knowledge dropped, please tell us about your favorite models. What are they, and why?
There is only one shoe that is and I think forever will be my most favorite, the adidas Torsion Integral S from 1992, in the blue-black colorway. I love its design, the comfort it provides. Simply adidas at its best! And I really can’t name other favorites, I just like all the shoes I own!
We hear that, it’s always hard for hoarders like us to nail it down to single pairs. Possibly unrelated to sneakers, what is that tattooed on your ankle?
It’s a scalpel. I did it long time ago, when I only thought about becoming a surgeon.
Also potentially unrelated, we saw a photo of you on Facebook with your collection on some shelving displayed with the caption Dabu di, dabu dai. What’s this mean?
Damn blue boxes everywhere!
And while we talk about blue boxes, here come the two most typical questions: how many pairs do you own and what do you do about storage?
I don’t know the exact number, something between 110 and 130. Fortunately I’m moving to a new apartment soon and I’ll have more storage place. Now, as I mentioned earlier, it’s blue all around.
Lastly, of your years so far, whats your best sneaker related story you can share with us?
It’s really hard to choose one story, really. There were so many two or three day campings before sneaker releases, so many sneaker hunting trips with my friends to Berlin or Amsterdam, and so many impossibly rare pairs found! Maybe the story of my ZX 1000C? I found them on German eBay being sold, as far as I remember, by a collector from Dresden. Sometime later I was checking the sneakers.fr Encyclopedia Hall Of Fame, and I found photos of the ZX 1000C made by a French collector named Abibass. I compared my shoes with the shoes on the photos, the glue stains, and everything, and yes, it was the same pair!
Or maybe the story when I met Joker, a collector from Berlin? When waiting in line for the Solebox New Balance 1500 “The Finals” I told my other German friend I was looking for the 2005 adidas Equipment Support ’91, limited to 1991 pairs, all individually numbered. The guy contacted me with Joker. Me and my friends made an appointment with him for the next day, when he was supposed to bring us the shoes. I will never forget how my jaw dropped, when Joker took out of his car two huge boxes, each containing like ten pairs of Supports only in our sizes, and said “I thought it would be nice if you could choose the numbers you like”. Cool guy!
He is a cool fella Jerzy, and you are yourself as well. Mad thanks for coming down to the eatmoreshoes parlor and talking shop with us for a while before heading back to the gown and white walls. Good luck with your exams and even more luck with your grail hunting!
written by Dylan Cromwell