Material Matters: adidas Ozweego
Chunky footwear has been popping a wheelie on the cultural zeitgeist for a minute now, so there has arguably never been a better time for adidas to resurrect one of their classic hits from the 90s.
But instead of bringing back a simple one-to-one retread of the Ozweego, the German sportswear giant went above and beyond with their 2019 update, reimagining the nameplate by channeling OG looks while employing enough modern design cues to propel the Ozweego well into the future.
For our latest installment of Material Matters, we’ll take a deep dive into adi’s new and improved 90s runner to highlight just how everything has been updated for contemporary times.
When adidas introduced the Ozweego 3 in 1998, a few factors set it apart from its predecessors. While Weegz 1 and 2 relied heavily on a traditional panel-centric design with supportive overlays, the third edition largely ditched them in favour of maximum mesh breathability and organic contours. On the 2019 edition, the Three Stripes branding has likewise been slimmed down. And if you’re worried about the durability of the all-mesh toe box, adi have helpfully coated the tips of your toes in a tonal synthetic material, while also adding a dab of pillowy padding for extra comfort.
For our money, the angular back end is the unsung hero of the new Ozweego design. When adi opted to overhaul the design, they still needed a way to lock the foot in place without employing a rigid heel counter. The neat solution was a stretchy neoprene panel that, when coupled with the Achilles-saving collar design, makes for supremely plush feels that easily surpass the comfort levels of the original series.
Reflective 3M material was sprinkled across the Ozweego 3, but adi went down a different route for the 2019 edition. The new toe and heel designs are almost completely overlay-free, so reflectivity now peeks out from beneath the wavy mudguard and OG-inspired eyestay, further highlighting two of the shoe’s boldest design elements.
Moulded TPU windows and pipes played a major role in Raf Simons’ 2013 resurrection of the long-dormant Ozweego line. In 2019, adi included a TPU ‘support tube’ that wraps the heel and collar, replicating the nylon lacing loops that appeared on the Ozweego 3. This is a cheeky little nod to Raf’s resurrection, and simultaneously ties back with the fundamental design of the Ozweego 3.
If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it! EVA midsoles have been an Ozweego go-to dating all the way back to 1996. In 2019, EVA is still the king, though it now works in conjunction with a pair of long-loved adidas cushioning technologies.
Like EVA, adiPRENE has been incorporated into the Ozweego lineup since the bulky trainer burst onto the scene. On the chunked-out original – as well as the Ozweego 2 from 1997 – the shock-absorbing tech appeared in the forefoot to ensure a smooth pavement-pounding ride.
By 1998, however, adi had moved adiPRENE to the heel. While adiPRENE is tailor-made for shock-absorption, adiPRENE+ was essentially the precursor to adidas’ BOOST cushioning – providing a reported 67 per cent energy return. Applied to the forefoot, the result was cushy shock absorption upon heel strike, and a little extra oomph with toe-off. Both adiPRENE and adiPRENE+ feature in the newfangled Ozweego as adi apply a fresh coat of paint to the tried-and-true tooling of the Ozweego 3.
Less isn’t always more, but in this case, the 2019 Ozweego is so much greater than the sum of its historic hybrid parts. The end result is both oddly familiar and stone cold fresh. This is the ultimate distillation of Ozweego DNA – the shoe that set the stage for today’s chunky AF technical boom!
Now that you've got the lowdown on the next-gen Ozweego, take a trip down memory lane and look back at the history of the Ozweego, since 1996.