Joseph Furness

AN OLYMPIC SUMMER is always preceded by a spring of pre-games hype. And this year, Adidas is in on the fun. In the run-up to Paris 2024, the Three Stripes is looking back 52 years at Munich 1972. Specifically, at the Adidas SL 72, a sneaker launched to observe the historical sporting moment.

“The SL 72 was first shown in the Olympic catalogue we launched before the games,” Adidas historian Sandra Trapp told us inside the brand’s clinically white, well-guarded archives during our recent trip to the brand’s global headquarters in Herzogenaurach, Germany. “However, it’s really a shoe for the street runner – the everyday runner.”

Put differently, the shoe – which quietly re-entered the market last year –is ideal for those in need of a practical runner-coded beater.

Joseph Furness

Its (lack of) weight is its unique selling proposition. ‘SL’ is an acronym of Super Light. At the time, the tread was so lightweight, it was revolutionary. Still, it’s one of the lightest on the lifestyle market. It’s chiefly crafted from nylon, suede and leather. And it’s of a low profile, making it the ideal prospect to replace your well-worn Sambas. In the seventies, it was exclusively available in blue. Today, there are plenty of colourways to pick from.


The retro style returned alongside the new-fashioned SL 72 RS, the ‘RS’ suffix standing for ‘reshaped’. Designed with the modern consumer in mind, the RS enjoys a thicker EVA midsole that affords greater flexibility and cushioning. Consequently, it has a chunkier look than the OG model. Straighter, too – more in line with contemporary Adidas Originals sneakers.


The impending Olympiad isn’t the sole reason this re-focus is well timed. The SL 72 push arrives during a moment when there’s renewed interest in its most celebrated patron, Bob Marley; needless to say, this is due to Reinaldo Marcus Green’s biopic starring Kingsley Ben-Adir as the reggae idol, Bob Marley: One Love.

Marley frequently sported the silhouette during the seventies, in and around his homes in Kingston, Jamaica and in London. And if the three little birdies that sit at our window are to be believed, Adidas will officially recognise this relationship between sneaker and musician this summer with the release of a Bob Marley SL 72. Marley’s affiliation with the trefoil-stamped trainer is surely amongst the reasons why Wales Bonner – a fashion designer of English and Jamaican heritage who incessantly honours British-Caribbean culture, famed in the sneaker community for resurrecting the Samba – is a fan.

Since 2020, she has been experimenting with the SL 72 as part of her on-going collab with the sportswear giant.

“Sometimes we look into certain eras and then inform the partners in a natural exchange,” an Adidas footwear designer told us in the HQ’s ‘Makers Lab’, “but, in this case, she was the first to learn towards the seventies, and therefore, the SL 72.”

This comes as no surprise to Bonner’s followers – she has paid homage to the fusion fashions of the Windrush Generation throughout her career. That includes the 20th Century-ensembles of her Jamaican father and his friends: she’s admitted to combing through their wardrobes on occasion whilst searching for inspiration for her Adidas-engineered collections.


Between Bob’s Big Comeback and the Paris Olympic Games, the SL 72 is preparing to have a huge year. And we’re rooting for it. Because: a) it’s an affordable, versatile, durable and timeless trainer, b) a guy can only stand to see so many Sambas in a day, and c) we’re absolutely desperate for the comeback of its bolder, spineless lil’ bro we discovered in the archives upon our most recent visit: the nineties-born, Y2K-vibes SL 72 mule. A clog-cum-sneaker we get the idea will be revived on the condition that the two aforementioned silhouettes prove popular – an if-this-gets-enough-likes type of situation.


Shop now:

Adidas SL 72 shoes in blue

Adidas SL 72 shoes in utility yellow

Adidas SL 72 shoe in green and yellow

This story originally appeared on Esquire UK


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