Today, shopping for basketball sneakers is a snap. Nike is always releasing new versions of the Air Jordans. Luxury brands like Louis Vuitton and Celine came up with their own take on the sporty silhouette. But if anyone is to be credited with making us want to wear such chunky shoes, it’s Adidas.
Believe it or not, the German sportswear brand was one step ahead of its American rival in popularizing basketball sneakers. He did so with the Adidas Forum, which now has a diverse fan base, from rappers like Bad Bunny and ASAP Rocky, to K-Pop stars like Lisa of Blackpink, to models Bella Hadid and Kendall Jenner. The most significant endorsement of the shoes, however, came from a young basketball player called Michael Jordan – before his contract with Nike.
Below, take a crash course in the Adidas Forum sneakers that are now making a comeback.
“The Next Big Basketball Shoe”
Basketball was big in the ’80s. The courts were not only dominated by NBA legends like Larry Bird and Magic Johnson, but also made way for another.
At the time, Adidas already had a signature basketball shoe: the Top Ten, released in 1979 and fired from the top ten players in the NBA. But Adidas shoe designer Jacques Chassaing was determined to create an even better pair of shoes for hoopers. He spent months observing the athletes through games and training. What he proposed is the Adidas Forum.
Despite borrowing elements from other Adidas shoes like the Concord and the Americana, the Forum stood out with its innovative features: the Criss-Cross Ankle System, which prevents foot injuries, as well as the Dellinger Web patented, nylon mesh around the midsole that designed to absorb any type of shock. The shoes also looked luxurious, thanks to their leather uppers and leather straps.
When Adidas launched the Forum in 1984, the sportswear brand ambitiously called it “the next great basketball shoe,” or simply “the shoe of the 80s.”
A hundred dollar price tag
Here’s another label the Forum got when it was released: the most expensive basketball shoe in history. Adidas valued them at US $ 100 a pair, which at the time was unthinkable for sneakers. (Fun fact: the price tag would later inspire fashion designer Jeremy Scott at the Adidas Forum in 2003, which he dubbed âSilver.â Scott gave the shoes a pair of wings and covered them with a printing one hundred US dollar bills.)
Despite its price, shoe fans still clamored for the Forum, especially after receiving a very public seal of approval from Michael Jordan. During the basketball trials for the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics, which featured the first Olympic basketball competition in the United States, Jordan sported the Forums and showed off his athletic prowess.
PHOTOS: Unseen photos from the 1984 US Olympic Basketball Trials: https://t.co/dVcmwnaMHX pic.twitter.com/e5TpAtbGQp
– Illustrated sports (@SInow) April 30, 2014
Of course, that was before the 21-year-old basketball star signed a deal with Nike, which would create the iconic Air Jordan sneakers for him. It should be noted, however, that Jordan would continue to wear Adidas shoes on the court throughout his athletic career.
As for the Forum, Adidas will eventually unveil low and mid-top versions of the sneakers to meet the growing demand for them. Over the years, the hype for them faded, with other Adidas styles like the Samba and Superstar taking precedence.
The return of the Adidas Forum
In 2020, Adidas relaunched its revolutionary basketball shoes under its Adidas Originals line – and with perfect timing. Sneakersheads have already been depleted by Air Jordan fatigue, with the large number of new styles Nike has released and showcased over the past few years. For collectors, the Forum is attractive for its own historical and cultural significance. And for fans of casual sneakers, the shoes are a refreshing and stylish alternative to what everyone else is wearing.
It certainly helps that the Adidas Forum was in the spotlight in 2021. Adidas has re-released the âMoneyâ pair designed by Jeremy Scott. Forums are also at the center of several collaborations, including an upcoming one inspired by the 90s Christmas classic, Alone at home, and another to mark the 20th anniversary of the Xbox.
Yet no contributor has done more to introduce the Forum to a new generation of sneakerheads than Bad Bunny. The Puerto Rican rapper has teamed up with Adidas to design new styles featuring buckles and his iconic eye logo. They were also offered in attractive colourways, such as pink, black and coffee brown. Distinctive looks aside, what sealed the popularity of these new forums was the massive Bad Bunny fanbase: A video of the rapper unpack a pair got over 15 million views on Instagram.
The Adidas Forum can only get bigger from here. As a shoe ambassador, Blackpink member Lisa promoted them in original colourways to millions of K-Pop fans. And pictures have surfaced of ASAP Rocky wearing a brand new pair, probably produced in collaboration with Prada. We can expect these forums, and many more, to dominate 2022.
Shop our favorite Adidas Forum sneakers
Header photo credit: Jeremy Moeller / Getty Images