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The German Army Trainer is one of those sneakers that you may not recognize by name but you've definitely seen before. It's been around since the late '80s and has been famously reinterpreted by brands like adidas and Maison Margiela, but its exact origins have been muddied over time. In order to better understand the sneaker, affectionately known as the GAT by many, Wall Street Journal decided to do some research.
Much of the shoe's history is indisputable — it was originally known as the BW-Sport and issued to German army members prior to the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989. From there, it began popping up throughout European surplus stores, becoming available to the public. But where did it come from in the first place?
Many people point to the GAT being an adidas creation. This would make sense, seeing as several GAT design cues later appeared up on adidas sneakers like the Samba. Upon reaching out to adidas, Wall Street Journal was able to confirm that the BW-Sport was in fact designed by adidas for the Federal German Army.
However, a spokesperson for a German military history museum argued otherwise, claiming that it was actually a creation of adidas' once-rival Puma. When WSJ reached out to confirm, Puma said that it had no records of any government-issued sneaker design. Go figure.
Eventually, the design rose to prominence during a 1998 Maison Margiela fashion show when founder Martin Margiela decided to clad his models in refurbished pairs of BW-Sports. Shortly thereafter, Margeila began producing its own version known as the 22 Replica Sneaker.
At the end of the day, this might not necessarily be a case of who did it first, but who did it best.