Adidas NMD (for the urban nomad): a review

Edit: This is a review of the NMD R1, for the 2017 review of the NMD R2, click here

I am not sure about how anybody else finds it, but the minute I feel I am getting marketed at (rather than to) I immediately get turned off. I am not one of these people who despises advertising in all its forms and lives in an unbranded yurt; everyone is influenced by advertising, the media, social media, friends, and I do want to buy stuff so I am quite glad that someone is shouting, hey! Look over here! We have what you need, and we do it in a way that you like. However, the marketing campaign for the new Adidas NMD has been so rubbish that I didn’t really feel any excitement towards them, which is why I’ve only just got round to trying on these trainers despite being aware of their existence for several months now.

Adidas NMD: £100

When they first came out I noticed the NMDs were being marketed as shoes for ‘Urban Nomads’, I wasn’t even fazed by this choice selection of marketing-speak, everyone needs to push their product, but these seemed to be a trainer designed for people who walk round cities a lot and need cushioning and support but also want to look good. Well, that includes me, and I decided to check them out. I actually went to the Adidas shop near Carnaby Street at the time of their release, but owing to a severe case of really-needing-a-coffee-and-not-being-bothered-to-try-shoes-on (I really needed that coffee) I only had a look at them, noting they were super light and seemed like they could be a good trainer for people with arthritis.

Then, a few days later, I picked up this issue of NME (yes, it’s not what it was, it’s not cool, but I still like it (and it’s free!)), and I just got a bit confused:

Oh no, my music magazine has been hacked by a trainer company

So… Generation Nomad (or, Adidas as its also known) ‘hacked’ NME. As far as I was aware, hacking was gaining unauthorised access to data, whereas the NME–Adidas combo seems to think hacking can be defined as printing on glossy paper with lots of adverts of ‘urban nomads’. It’s just weird to pretend it was some sort of hostile take over. I just don’t understand it, and I wonder how many Apprentice-style marketing executives it took to come up with this, I imagine the conversation went something along the lines of:

“We need to market these NMD trainers as being edgy!”

“You mean Urban”

“Yeah! Urban and edgy, because they’re for Nomads, which are cool”

“NMD sounds like NME… is the NME still cool?”

“Yeah! Must be!”

“Yeah, let’s pay for loads of advert space! They’re desperate, they’ll do anything for money”

“Paper is a bit low quality though, isn’t it, it feels cheap”

“Yeah, cheap is not our brand”

“I know! We can buy loads of advert space and make them print on nice paper, and all the cool kids will start wearing our trainers”

“Is buying advert space cool?”

“Good point, let’s just do it and say we ‘hacked’ it. Hacking is cool.”

“Genius, let’s open the champagne and caviar”

Now, I know I am not the target market, but I hate being treated as if I am stupid (I don’t blame NME, they really are desperate for cash). And, the hacking weirdness aside, to be honest, the adverts didn’t do that much for me. The NME has a young readership, but they also know that there’s an older generation who grew up with it too (like me), and they do try not to alienate these readers too much, and I respect it for that. 

Hmmmm, needs more concrete

I think the NMD adverts missed the mark. I don’t want to look like a kid wearing trainers in an ugly carpark, I’m in my 30s. Going for an aperol spritz at the Southbank Centre is about as ‘hanging round an ugly carpark’ as I can deal with.

Aperol spritz? Brutalist architecture? Jolly good

So, I basically decided I wasn’t in a rush to try these trainers out. In the end, however, I thought it would be a good idea to try them on eventually, as they might well have been revolutionary, so I ordered a pair in purple, which set me back £100. Not overly expensive, I pay that for my approach shoes, but I expect a £100 pair of trainers to be good.

Lovely new shoes feeling

Quick look in the box, and it’s all very nice. Who doesn’t love new shoes? The fabric was a peachy soft suede and looked good. And as I said above they are really light for their size, which is always good as I’m trying to avoid heavy shoes as much as possible at the moment, I’ve noticed it just adds unnecessary strain on my joints, especially if my feet are in a state of semi-rest (for example, when I am driving). However, the praise stops there.

The first thing, they are a massive faff to put on! There is no tongue to the trainers, it is just one solid construction, a bit like the embellished trainers, but it lacks enough stretch to be put on with ease.

Much grunting later, I got them on…

I only have swelling in my ankle, but if you have any foot problems, I think you would find just getting the shoes on very tricky. I had to really use the tab to pull them on my feet. This is just not what you want when you have arthritis: just getting dressed can be enough hassle without adding extra challenge.

I put on some shoes. Um, yay?

When they were on, I did like the way they looked. The laces are pretty superfluous, but I like superfluous things sometimes, so didn’t hold it against them. What I did hold against them was the fact they just weren’t very comfortable. The heel, weirdly, felt too firm underfoot and, also weirdly, there was no support under the arch so my bad ankle wanted to overpronate.

Definitely some overpronation going on with the potato-ankle

I didn’t think that the NMDs were terrible, they were fine. However I didn’t think they were better than many other trainers: they look good, they have an interesting design, but they didn’t feel amazingly better and, for £100, I would want these to do something a little more. It’s not that I particularly dislike Adidas either, I love Gazelles. I had a pair of Gazelles when I was 17 that were made from deep-blue corduroy (that’s how I roll) that I loved beyond all reason, and Gazelles have a special place in my heart. But for £90, you can custom design your own pair of Gazelles, which I think is better value than the basic NMD.

To make sure I was being fair I did a side-by-side try on with a pair of New Balance 420, which are a nice light trainer. I like the retro look that they have. They don’t have much arch support or do much for my overpronation either, don’t get me wrong, but I wouldn’t ever try to do urban nomading in them.

New Balance 420 Baby Blue: £65

To be honest, they didn’t feel that different, the NMDs do have more support in the heel, so perhaps I would notice the benefit if I had been walking for miles, but if I knew I were going to do that sort of distance, I would probably wear approach shoes (or Golden Goose trainers if I wanted to look like I was making an effort). The most notable difference I could see is that the NMDs cost an extra £35…  I sent the NMDs back.

So, basically, if you want a pair of trainers for general use, and you really like the look of the NMDs they are not a bad trainer (provided you can get them on). However if you are buying with walking benefits in mind, I wouldn’t rate them too highly as you would be better off, in my opinion, in something with better support under the arch.

The search for the perfect trainer continues…


Author: shoeslifeblog

Being diagnosed with osteoarthritis didn't stop me loving shoes, so I've spent many years seeking shoes that weren't awful for my joints yet weren't awful on the eye. I have learnt that not all shoes are equal, and it is possible to wear amazing shoes while having arthritis (and other leg issues). I try out shoes so you don't have to.

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