On BBC's Doctor Who, there is a long, long (I'm talking, like, since the 1960s kind of long) tradition of each new generation of the Doctor having his or her own distinctive look. For David Tennant's Doctor, it was a slim-fitting pinstripe suit, a tie, and Converse high-tops. For Matt Smith's Doctor, it was a funky red bow tie, suspenders, and, often, a tweed blazer. And for the newest Doctor (Ncuti Gatwa), it boils down to something simultaneously fresh and vintage: Grenson's Sneaker 51.
Gatwa debuted as the Fifteenth Doctor in last year's Christmas special. As is par for the course for Doctor Who, he kicked some alien ass, saved a few lives with his new companion, and introduced the world to his iteration of the iconic character. And he did all of it in a British heritage brand that combines history with modernity. At the end of the day, isn't that the heart and soul of Doctor Who?
Really, there couldn't be a more fitting shoe of choice for the Doctor than Sneaker 51. Grenson, as a footwear company, can trace its English roots all the way back to 1866. The brand made a name for itself by crafting high-quality, traditional footwear for over 150 years. Just the blink of an eye, if you're the Doctor. He's evolving with the times to produce modernised footwear and accessories. Now, the brand has a factory in Rushden, Northamptonshire. It's not quite Gallifrey. But it's clearly a place where the Doctor can source some "G"-logo kicks that are good enough for escaping a goblin spaceship.
The Sneaker 51 (which the Doctor pairs with a very retro outfit) takes its inspiration from sneakers of the '70s. It has calf leather and suede panels that imbue the style with a fresh feel. The shoes, like Doctor Who, are British heritage pieces brought back to life for the 21st century, paying homage to their roots. Gatwa's new season of Doctor Who doesn't air until later, but if the showrunners are already building Fifteen's identity down to the very detail of his shoes, this is going to be another era of the show that's absolutely unmissable.
Is it too late to say the footwear and apparel collection entail a series of inspired gifts, installations and games this entire month? Maybe. Doesn't mean you can't drop everything you're doing this very moment and rush down to flagship store adidas Brand Centre Orchard (BCO).
Some history for meaning and significance. These shoes made appearances on global runways and most famously on the feet of Pharrell Williams, were first introduced at the 1950 World Cup in Brazil. The combination of fitted leather panels, padded suede toe box and incredible grip from the rubber outsole made the Samba—dare we say it—the best-known indoor soccer shoe of its time. It allegedly offered players a one-to-one fit and unmatched kicking precision.
Naturally, the sleek, instantly recognisable design paired with the iconic 3-Stripes design then made its way into British youth fashion circles. And now, an icon for the brand. So much so that it got its own modern rendition, the Sambae. By altering the proportions of the timeless trainers through the lens of current fashion sensibilities, it maintains design elements like the suede T-toe box and classic leather upper, yet delivers a chunkier design with an exaggerated rubber platform midsole.
To celebrate this rich heritage, the brand commissioned local artist Iqbal to encapsulate it all in a Streets of Samba mural at the BCO entrance. Besides depicting a a central London street taken over by numerous adidas Samba OGs, the easter egg here is to spot the correct number to win an actual pair of adidas Originals Samba OG or Sambae.
A lowdown of the T&Cs
The contest is open only to adiClub members and public Instagram profiles, via a creative IGS story of the giant installations, the guesses, and @adidassg and #adidasSG tags. Three winners with the correct guesses and most creative submissions will be selected from 8 Jan 2024.
How long does it take for a collaboration to manifest? Six months? A year? If you're like Sole Superior and Saint Barkley, the road to the end product can take up to four years. But it's worth the wait as the union borne out of mutual admiration for each other yields these limited-edition kicks.
Limited to 500 pairs, this collaboration caused quite a kerfuffle back in 2022. A sample pair was first introduced at Sole Superior last November and then at the Jakarta Sneaker Day in February 2023. It was during the latter when the samples were absconded from its display case.
But when life gives you lemons, you turn it into a marketing opportunity—Saint Barkley and Sole Superior offered a reward to anyone who turn in the stolen samples. In an IG post, Saint Barkley and Sole Superior extoll the sneaker thief for their "terrific taste" and chided their "terrible ethics". The samples were never recovered.
But what is it about the Sole Superior x Saint Barkley sneakers that made it so seductive that theft was its only recourse?
Well, taking inspiration from the 'Scratch N Sniff' stickers of the 1980s, the shoes sport bubblegum-scented tongues. These releases that contraband scent when your foot comes in contact with it. The upper is a peach /suede with light-reflective stitching. Adorned with Saint Barkley's signature volt green sole, the white vulcanised rubber midsole looks striking from the contrast. ensuring your sneakers and surroundings smell as fresh as they look. To top it all off, the sneakers come in a special clear window shoebox. Each purchase of the shoes will also get you three exclusive Saint Barkley x Sole Superior air fresheners.
Not only do you have a sneaker release, there's also the limited apparel capsule collection. A t-shirt, cap, and coach jacket—these items complement your new kicks. These are available in limited quantities as well.
Saint Barkley x Sole Superior limited kicks retails for SGD66. The collection drops today at Saint Barkley's physical store in Indonesia or if you're not based over there, you can purchase them online.