Most of Art Basel Miami Beach’s off-site events take place at galleries and showrooms in the city’s Design District or poolside at the touristy hotels that dot Collins Avenue. But for the debut of its revamped EQT shoe on Thursday night (Dec. 2), Adidas went to Miami’s Marine Stadium on Key Biscayne.
There, among a specially constructed set of barges, the brand held a panel discussion for its new #TLKS series (this one in partnership with Surface magazine), along with a performance from Pusha T, whose latest Adidas shoe collaboration drops today (Dec. 3).
The aquatic backdrop — with its skyline views, sophisticated light show playing against the concrete stadium and dramatic speedboat entrance from Pusha — was an optimal setting for Instagram stories and other social media opportunities. But for Adidas, its history may have been more symbolic: The arena was a popular boat race venue on Key Biscayne until it was condemned after Hurricane Andrew in 1992 — close to the same time that Adidas first debuted its EQT line, which it will officially relaunch in January.
“It was one of the most disruptive sneakers we launched, and it happened in the ’90s,” says Alegra O’Hare, VP of brand communications at Adidas Originals. “It was stripped down to the core, and in the midst of a lot of clutter back then, it brought back the essence of what it meant to be a true, authentic sneaker.”
The brand has had a lot of success with nostalgia over the past few years, most notably with its Superstars and Stan Smiths, which have played counterpoint — and complement — to its megastar collaborations from Kanye West and Pharrell Williams. But with the EQT, Adidas may have found a way to combine the past with its innovative future, and a big name attached to it. The King Push EQT Grayscale is Pusha’s third sneaker with the brand, but it’s a departure from the past two designs, which were luxe versions of the classic Running Guidance shoe. Instead, he utilized the brand’s Primeknit material and Boost technology to create a silhouette that serves as the unofficial template to the brand’s January launch.
But the sneaker’s history has not been lost on Pusha: “I got all my courage in the ’90s. Still to this day, the ’90s is the backdrop for my music,” said Pusha at the event’s panel discussion, which also included artist Ben Jones and model and activist Adwoa Aboah. “Even watching hip-hop artists today, they’re still mimicking the actions of what they think was going on in the ’90s, the attitude, the posturing — everything.”
The night culminated in Pusha’s performance, which included his own throwback moments, performing Clipse songs like “Grindin’” and “When the Last Time,” along with Kanye West songs like “Runaway” (thought there was no comment of his G.O.O.D. Music founder’s current mental health state). For the rapper, whose new album, King Push, comes out early 2017, it was also a night of past, present and future.
Adidas King Push EQT Grayscale is on sale now for $200.