Margiela Replica Sneakers: A History

26 Dec 2016

The inspiration behind Margiela's world renowned 'Replica' sneakers derives from an oft-overlooked style from the footwear archives, the German Army Trainer. Used during the Cold War, the German Army produced the shoe primarily for indoor training but trace the roots of the shoe back further and you find a mystery: nobody quite knows who indeed produced the shoe, it is the Dassler brothers (founders of adidas and PUMA respectively) who are often credited with it's invention despite Puma denying it ever produced the shoe. Since they were made for the government, there is zero branding and hence the shroud of secrecy behind the shoe continues. Who else better to re-inject the shoes with new life than the man of mystery Mr Maison Margiela himself? (Incredibly, only one photograph of Margiela himself actually exists online). After the collapse of the Berlin Wall the shoes made it's way into the hands of ordinary citizens and eventually the Margiela design table. The innovative recycling of products, the elevating the seemingly mundane is at the core of the Belgian designer’s practice. In 1999 at the  presentation of his “Artisanal” line, he showed models clad in the re-worked Replica sneakers, washed and given new insoles and laces. The humble surplus shoe became a blank canvas: Margiela literally splattered paint on the shoes, adding fluorescent dyes and luxury suede finishes.  From humble beginnings the Replica shoes is now one of fashions most adorned silhouettes.  Shop the new Spring Summer styles now at