As improbable bedfellows go, it’s up there with Bob Dylan’s 2004 appearance in a Victoria’s Secret commercial: Savile Row tailor Henry Poole has joined forces with German sportswear giant Adidas to create two pairs of limited edition trainers.
While Henry Poole has over 40 royal warrants and counts Charles Dickens, Robert Mitchum and Tsar Alexander II of Russia among the famous figures to have passed through its doors since its opening in 1806, the NMD R2 Day Shoe and NMD XR1 Evening Shoe (both £150) are based on perhaps the most illustrious names on its sales ledgers to date: Winston Churchill and King Edward VII respectively.
The concept was born during one of Adidas Group global senior product manager Patrick Reinhardt’s regular visits to Henry Poole. The chalk-stripe cloth he selected for a suit on that occasion was inspired by a famous photo of Churchill holding a Thompson submachine gun while visiting coastal defences in Yorkshire during the second world war. Reinhardt took a section of the fabric back to Adidas HQ in Herzogenaurach and tasked the design team with using it to create a unique trainer based on Adidas’s popular NMD silhouette. “The final outcome,” as Reinhardt puts it, “was exactly what Henry Poole and Adidas had in mind from the very beginning.”
So delighted were both parties with the results that they then decided to create a second trainer. Based on the midnight-blue silk fabric from which Henry Poole made an evening lounge jacket (the descendant of which is now universally referred to as the tuxedo) for King Edward VII when he was still Prince of Wales, the NMD XR1 Evening Shoe features slivers of visible white sole to represent a dress shirt, while the black corded silk facing echoes a dinner jacket’s lapels. It’s designed, according to Henry Poole managing director Simon Cundey, to be worn as part of a black-tie ensemble. “It’s radical, but then so was the tux in its day,” he points out.
As for the NMD R2 Day Shoes, when a pair are placed together their chalk-stripes – which, close up, echo Adidas’s iconic tri-stripes – produce the same forward-point chevron effect a bespoke tailor will create on the seat of pinstriped trousers. “It’s a statement shoe – a bit edgy, just like wearing a pinstripe suit is compared to a plain worsted,” says Cundey.
Both models feature an interior lining based on Henry Poole’s black burgundy Cundey Weave pattern, and an Adidas Originals and Henry Poole selvedge, subtly positioned on the heel. Only 1,200 pairs of each are available, exclusively from Size?, with the NMD XR1 Evening shoe on July 21 and the NMD R2 Day shoe launching on August 4.