adidas Campus: From Hip Hop to Football Culture

Words by Offspring Community member Kieran Coyle @allthatsneaks

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adidas has produced some timeless sneaker models throughout the years with the Samba, the Stan Smith and the Superstar. They hit the mark again in 1980 with the Campus (previously known as the Tournament in the 70s); a shoe that would soon become synonymous with street culture, becoming the go-to sneaker for football casuals, skateboarders and hip hop’s elite. That’s what I love about the Campus; its ability to cross boundaries. A sneaker released in simple colourways, and with its raw materials and no-nonsense silhouette, it still graces our shelves after 40 years, and rightly so.

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Although it was initially released as a basketball shoe – its understated colours, clean lines and durability had it catching the eye of streets, with hip hop acts like Eazy E, The Beastie Boys and Run DMC rocking them for album covers and photo shoots.

A far cry from Run DMC and the Beastie Boys, my first memory of the Campus is seeing an old photo of my dad rocking them back in Melbourne in the 80s. I was only a baby back then, but thanks to the old grainy photos, I can still reminisce. And, as it was back then, he was wearing them whilst cutting down a tree. Classic dad move; an OG sneakerhead without really knowing.

At the age of 26, I left Melbourne and headed across the pond to the UK. It was 2007, and I immediately began hitting up sneaker stores. It was a real shift from home, as our stores were full of Jordans and Nikes with basketball being one of the most-played sports, whereas the London stores were brimming with adidas.

There’s a strong football culture here, and it was the ‘Casuals’ who would take to the Campus. This new ‘British’ style became something to laud over opposing fans, as London casuals were known to mock away-team supporters for their choice of clobber, aiming to prove that London was a frontrunner in football fashion.

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More recently, it’s Campus collabs that have initiated a revival for the classic silhouette. Although some brands kept it simple with a subtle colourway change, or perhaps simply upping the game with premium materials, others went with croc-textured leather stripes, ring pulls, gold signatures and embossed logos. Chinese brand Melting Sadness created two Campus models that used every inch of the silhouette to perfection, adding hang tags, changing the shape of the heel tabs and using colours and lines across the midsole that made it look as though ice cream was melting across your kicks.

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The Star Wars franchise took the opportunity to add horse hair. I’d never have associated that material with a Star Wars collab, but when you’re going for the Wampa look, needs must.

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Highsnobiety kept things simple with a baby-blue and brown colourway, but in premium materials of course; while Japanese retailer Mita went with a premium pig-skin upper and vintaged outsoles.

Pushing the boat out even further was the American animated sitcom franchise South Park, covering the upper completely in a towel material as a nod to their infamous ‘Towelie’ character. The tongue logo was replaced with the character's eyes which would become bloodshot under UV light.

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If collabs like these give us an insight into what’s possible with the Campus, I hope there’s more to come. I think they’ll both renew old-heads’ love and find new fans at the same time.

I believe at its core, it’s the simplicity of the Campus that lends itself to become a blank canvas, enabling artistic and creative brands to put their stamp on it. And its rich history and the timelessness of its design is the reason it will be around for a long time to come.

Check out more from @allthatsneaks on Instagram.


Offspring meets Ty_kix
8 September 2022


6 September 2022