Once a sneaker bears Michael Jordan’s stamp of approval, it can only go up from there, and we mean that literally. In 1984, pre-NBA Jordan sported a pair of adidas Forums and flew high above the net in the U.S. Olympic Trials. This moment in sports history paved the way for the shoe to become one of the defining basketball silhouettes of the ’80s.
Now, a new generation of diverse voices are carrying on the Forum’s legacy. Due to its versatility and modest $90-$100 price tag, the sneaker has become an integral part of subcultures across America. LA breakdancers, Boston’s Carribean carnival community, dirt bikers in Atlanta, New York skate park-goers, Detroit’s LGBTQ+ youth ballroom voguers, producers in Philly, Chicago artists, and Houston slab crews have all adopted the Forum as their own.
“What’s crucial here is that it’s not a brand taking it into culture, it’s people bringing the shoe into new contexts — whether it be skateboarding, fashion, dance, and beyond,” Eric Wise, global GM of adidas Basketball, recently told Complex UK. “This kind of adoption happens across different genders, backgrounds, ethnicities, nations. It’s this process of cultural authentication that takes a silhouette from a shoe to an icon.”
With that history in mind, scroll down to take a look at these subcultures and check out all the ways the adidas Forum is bringing innovators together.
LA: adidas Forum Low Shoes
Members of the Concrete All Stars and LA Breakers dance crews all rock the adidas Forum, but in the same way the dancers have different go-to moves, they vary how they style their sneakers. Some opt out and remove the adjustable straps altogether, while others keep them to prevent the shoe from flying off. It’s the mix of personalities that allow the crews to stand out.
Boston: adidas Forum Mid Shoes
Boston’s Carribean carnival scene is home to the Happiest Band Alive, the city’s one and only J’ouvert band. J’ouvert is known as the unofficial start of the Carnival Festival, and with these musicians that tradition is able to carry on in New England. These trailblazers grab their instruments, lace up their Forums, and keep the party going.
Atlanta: adidas Forum Low Shoes
Atltanta’s dirt bike scene, centered around off-road motorcycle riding and ATV four wheelers, showcases the utilitarian function of the adidas Forum. Most sneakers wouldn’t hold up to the hardcore way these dirt bike crews ride, but the Forum is tough enough to handle it and then some, making the shoe a go-to in the ATL.
NYC: adidas Forum Mid Shoes
In the Big Apple, the young, and young at heart, are flocking to local skate parks. If you skate in New York, you’re likely to see the three stripes everywhere, thanks in part to CODA Skateboards owner Pat Smith, who established his company in 2003 to encourage city dwellers to go outside and skate.
Detroit: adidas Forum Low Shoes
Philadelphia: adidas Forum Mid Shoes
Chicago: adidas Forum Low Shoes
Houston: adidas Forum Mid Shoes
Houston’s slab subculture—an acronym that stands for slow, loud, and bangin’ and refers to custom cars—has claimed the adidas Forum as its sneaker of choice. Local crews close out the week together on Sundays with their custom cars, a tradition that started around the same time the Forum originally dropped.