A Brief History of the adidas Originals Tubular

Before all the NMD, Ultra Boost, and EQT hype, adidas Originals captivated the sneaker world with the adidas Tubular back in 1993. Designed primarily as a basketball shoe, it became clear from the offset that the world’s first inflatable sneaker was way ahead of its time.

However, featuring a futuristic aesthetic isn’t always a good thing, as sneakerheads of the time were afraid to adopt such an ultramodern sneaker, thus, the model was shelved just two years later. That being said, Nic Galway, VP of Global Design for adidas Originals saw huge potential in the shoe, and did whatever he could to resurrect the Tubular.


A Brief History of the adidas Originals Tubular

In 2014, adidas Originals introduced an all-new Tubular silhouette. Dubbed the Tubular Runner, the sneaker was the result of half a decade of research, and harked back to its roots with a car tyre inspired sole unit and a revolutionary design that left many sneaker enthusiasts hungry for more.

The Tubular Runner’s iconic looks were an act of combining history and past with sport and style. Pushing the boundaries of modern sneaker design, it blurred the lines between a piece of sports equipment and a piece of high fashion. Seen on the feet of A-list celebrities such as Justin Bieber, Kendall Jenner, and A$AP Rocky, this new shoe, that seemingly came out of the blue, was a global phenomenon which singlehandedly started a new era of sneakers.


A Brief History of the adidas Originals Tubular

According to Nic Galway, the Tubular Runner was a shoe that was directly inspired by Yohji Yamamoto’s famed Y-3 Qasa silhouette. In fact, he went as far as to say that the second prototype of the Qasa looked very similar to the Tubular Runner. Fashionistas everywhere absolutely adored this futuristic sneaker, and it took over Paris Fashion Week’s Autumn/Winter 2015 season with an entire show dedicated to the Tubular Runner.

Very soon after, the Tubular family began to expand exponentially with the addition of new models like the sock-like Doom, Primeknit Nova, low top Viral, and high top Tubular X. These silhouettes were met with universal acclaim, and in 2016, a bunch of major streetwear boutique collabs ensured that the Tubular continued to be at the forefront of the sneaker scene, even at the height of the Ultra Boost and NMD wave.


A Brief History of the adidas Originals Tubular

In 2017, The Brand With The Three Stripes took the wraps off several other silhouettes, including the understated Entrap, the two toned Shadow, the show stopping Doom Sock, and the latest iteration of the Tubular X, aptly dubbed the Tubular X 2.0, which features a full Primeknit upper and an innovative lacing system.

In this day and age, it’s very easy to call the Tubular the ‘poor man’s Yeezys’ or a ‘Yeezy clone’, but people seem to have forgotten that Tubulars were created before Yeezys, and their designs were inspired by the original Tubular from 1993. It’s also important to note that the Yeezy Boost 350 took design cues from several Y-3 models, so would that make it a ‘Y-3 clone’?

With the popularity of the Ultra Boost, NMD, and EQT, it’s very clear that the sneaker community is leaving the Tubular in the dust. However, this doesn’t mean we should just forget about the twenty-four-year legacy that the tyre inspired sneaker has built. In fact, it’s something we should celebrate and be thankful for, because without the Tubulars, adidas probably wouldn’t be what it is today.


A Brief History of the adidas Originals Tubular