Like the newly launched fashion sneaker by Adidas x Designer Arwa Al Banawi, which is closely tied with the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia’s latest drool-worthy destination – AlUla
Fashion is as architectural as it is ephemeral. No wonder many designers down the ages have been inspired by a particular building or a city. Footwear fashion has made the most of this as well, with Adidas’s City Series shoes being quite legendary in the sneaker-verse. This season, Adidas Originals and designer Arwa Al Banawi have come together to launch a very personal iteration of the iconic Forum silhouette. She says this one is evocative of her roots in the Middle East (the hand-stitched red and white feature in the woven heel cap is reminiscent of the Arab headdress for males known as ghutra) as well as a contemporary bow to women’s empowerment.
The new kicks, aptly crafted in shades of sand – Adidas Originals by Arwa Al Banawi Forum Lo Sneaker – were launched for sale virtually on early access exclusively from the new hotspot on the Saudi Arabian tourist map on May 25 and were sold out before you could say AlUla! Although it’s one of the oldest cities in the Arabian Peninsula and once an important stop on the silk and incense trade routes between Asia and Europe, AlUla is being re-discovered by travellers only recently, thanks to its stunning ancient structures such as the UNESCO World Heritage site known as Hegra, a lush oasis valley, and towering sandstone mountains. This fashion collaboration has also brought it into focus more sharply among the jet set.
Adidas has had similar collaborations in the past. Starting from as far back as the 1970s, its City Series has featured cities across Europe. And then there have been the logical expansions to other parts of the world or a focus on an iconic structure that adds oomph to the city. For example, its ode to the bird’s nest architecture of Beijing’s National Stadium in 2017, or the Hamburg City Series that pays homage to the city’s fish market, right down to its special packaging and scale-like detailed branding.
In fact, one of Nike’s latest styles is one that is symbolic of a ‘City Market’, with lettering mimicking what you’d see on product packaging and even the shoes’ exact weight printed on them!
And this brand too has paid homage to cities. Like they did with Toronto in the popular Air Max 1 model from a few years ago. From a red maple leaf on the tongue, or shoe liners in Northern Lights hues, and even an outline of the city’s landmark CN Tower. Similarly, they’ve had shoes dedicated to Malmö in the colours of the Swedish flag and Tokyo Maze, inspired by the subterranean subways in Japan’s foremost city, and a beautiful green and gold for Liverpool in the UK.
Another shoe label, New Balance, created two designs in black leather and orange accents inspired by London’s iconic hackney carriage taxi.
New York has lent inspiration to shoe design as well, of course. Nike’s Air Force 1 ‘What the NY’ are as in-your-face and busy as a typical New Yorker. And in 2017, NYC boutique Extra Butter and PUMA collaborated to create crushed velvet-clad shoes that were a nod to the city’s b-boy culture.
And then there are the Air Jordan XXXV ‘Paris’ from Nike, using vivid colours and deluxe materials that embody the City of Light. Basketball shoes in gold and marble tones bring to mind the city’s majestic architecture, while the pastel accents are meant to represent the flowers you see around Paris in printemps (springtime).
So what if you can’t travel just yet? You can certainly find some travel inspiration through these trainers for now. There’s literally a whole world at your feet.