adidas Ralf


For many of the sneaker connoisseurs out their, these vintage, Yugoslavian-made adidas Ralf’s will likely be a vicious no-go, not even fitting into their definition of a ‘trainer’.

Man, do I ever look funny with this pair upon my feet. As a sneakerhead, street dancer, and generally urban person I can’t explain what it is about leisure shoes but they just look silly on the likes of me, and possibly the rest of you ‘heads out there can relate, at least on some level. The aspect of attraction we find in most trainers is that exactly: they’re trainers. But every once in a while there’s a shoe that slips through the sieve and lets us dream a bit that we’re chasing boat shoes or suit clogs instead of sportswear sneakers (wouldn’t that be a funny change of pace, camping on the curb overnight from some galoshes).

The adidas Ralf is certainly that pair for me. And I ask myself why? What is it about this shoe (or any shoe for that matter) which grabs my attention? Quality, design, purpose, comfort… there are a variety of criteria by which to judge a pair of footwear.

Comfort is probably, by far, the most important, despite the fact that we don’t always want to admit this or live by it as a standard. I’m honestly very used to overly-padded, totally bulky, chunk-master space shoes, so it was an imaginative stretch for me seeing a pair of Ralf’s on my feet in comfort. But once I got ‘em on they were delicious. Nice little raise in the heel, very nice fit around the ankle, and seriously cozy upper and toe box all together. The one-piece body really helps to keep stitching friction down.

Design-wise the shoe is actually pretty sweet. For starters, a high top leisure shoe? Yes please! And as for the finer details: clean lines, cool shape, not much unneeded flair allowing the single metal trefoil to stand out, loud and proud on each shoe. And the Velcro-protected zipper was ingenious, though it’s a tad bit annoying to do and undo all the time.

As for quality, the brown leather upper is nearly alive it’s so supple and smooth, and a plaid-pattern inner lining that’s thin, yet still quite soft to the touch. Soles are sturdy enough even for me to goof around dancing in, so this pair is a hit and win for me from top to bottom.

Beyond all the tangible criteria mentioned above lies a wee bit of hype; having a vintage pair of leisure shoes made in Yugoslavia goes in line with the daily one-up-manship we all face in the sneaker appreciation scene at large, and on that note this pair certainly delivers.

Despite all the praise though, I seriously must admit that I’m deadly afraid to wear these out of the house, and it’s not because I think they’re too vulnerable for some asphalt. No, it’s more my own egotistical delicacy that I’m worried about, crumbling apart like an OG Polyurethane sole with each step I take. After all, if you don’t know what these are, they’ll just end up looking like a funky pair of leisure shoes on my feet.

written by Dylan Cromwell

photography by errol