Wales Bonner spring 2024

FEW SPORT and fashion crossovers have captured the collective imagination quite like Adidas x Wales Bonner. Having first joined forced in 2020, the British designer — whose brand was still relatively nascent at that point — didn’t just reimagine the look of iconic Adidas sneaker models like the Samba and Nizza, she imbued her interpretations with stories of the African diaspora to which she belongs.

There’s no denying the cult status of the collab has contributed to the peak saturation of the Adidas Samba, which hit a crescendo the moment Instagram models like Hailey Bieber and Kaia Gerber began sporting the style. Early adopters are in mourning.

But fans of the team-up don’t just subscribe for the Bonner-fied Sambas. They are here for the Dad-like soccer jerseys, colourful tracksuits and soon, they’ll be here for a brand new sneaker silhouette: Wales Bonner’s take on the Adidas Neftenga.

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At Wales Bonner’s spring 2024 show in Paris overnight, the designer’s trademark shirting, elongated tunics and dainty, ballet-like shoes appeared alongside looks from her new Adidas collection. The most notable of these being a duo of brightly coloured tracksuits in superfine knit; one in royal blue and red, the other in green and gold — we hope the Australian Olympic team is taking notes.

But all eyes were on the canary yellow sneakers that were teamed with the tracksuits. The style was more performance-skewed than previous shapes, which have been largely borrowed from Adidas’ lifestyle category. Upon closer inspection, it became clear this wasn’t just any sports sneaker, but an illustrious model at that.

First introduced in 2008, the Neftenga was the first sneaker in the Adizero line. Its first outing was the Berlin Marathon that year; Ethiopian athlete Haile Gebrselassie wore them to smash his own world record by 29 seconds, completing the race in a 2.03.59 finishing time.

While Gebrselassie wasn’t present at Wales Bonner spring 2024 show, the presence of the Ethiopian running team certainly was. Yomif Kejelcha, the world indoor record holder for the fastest mile (3:47.01), and Tamirat Tola, an Olympic medalist, both walked the runway wearing Neftengas. So revered is the shoe in Ethiopia, it’s referred to simply as the ‘boss’.

Haile Gebrselassie’s signed Adidas Neftenga. The Ethiopian runner famously smashed his own record wearing them during the 2008 Berlin Marathon.

Switching gears to focus on a sportier style is a clever move from a very clever designer. Thanks to functional brands like Salomon, the running silhouette is being worn with casual clothing at a rate we haven’t seen since the 90s, when the ‘Dad’ look was born. Running, meanwhile, is also sprinting its way into the zeitgeist, with directional brands like District Vision and Satisfy providing an aesthetic incentive for people to get involved.

This being said, we can’t imagine the Wales Bonner Neftenga will be used by the casual runner to clock laps around town. We’ll be wearing ours with loose jeans, or a brightly coloured sweatsuit — just as the designer intends.

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