The adidas Americana is a very important shoe indeed. A while back, while upping store shoes on our Instagram, somebody labeled the Basket Profi, a Nike Blazer copy. At first we thought that was a little rich, because while the reintroduction of the Profi probably was a response to the Blazer's ubiquity, the Blazer was (according to an unnamed source who was there at the time) an attempt to imitate the Americana. Look at the silhouettes of both shoes in their OG form - similar down to the outsole. But then again, the industry is laden with folk stories about shoe origins and inspirations, because we've seen the Americana Hi listed as a 1971 release, but we've also got the Low as a 1972 drop and the Hi as a 1973 arrival, which makes tales of it inspiring the Blazer a little tougher to fathom. What we do know is that the Americana is a descendent of models like the 1970's Shooting Star, with the "air net" mesh upper and it was coloured up with the iconic stripes for the American Basketball Association.
Affordable and breathable, that mesh and leather upper with the Softprotect padding was a breakthrough (though it's amusing to imagine that this model was a technical design), and during the 1970s it dropped with a plain leather toe variation and a the more familiar design with the instantly recognisable suede toe panel, plus an adidas Jabbar Hi that looked suspiciously like this model. Then the ABA-boxed Americana was dealt a slight blow by the ABA/NBA merger of 1976.The shoe co-signed by Mack Calvin and other league legends was superseded by 1979's Top Ten Hi, game tested by Doug Collins, Kevin Grevey and eight others. The Top Ten was more resilient, all leather and a more contemporary looking release, but it still retained some 1972 design language. So that was the end of the Americana, right? Nope. Just as the Top Ten dropped, our favourite mesh and suede masterpiece was made the official shoe of the National Federation of State High School Associations, with a budget price and NFSHSA branded tongues and boxes. There's Romania and French made versions of that version and in the decade that followed, there was a sequel too.
What exactly the Americana Hi 88 actually was (is it a 1988 spin on the shoe) or how it fitted into the amazingly technical rollouts of the time is a mystery, but we like this shoe a lot. Every element of this shoe has been homaged in and outside the adidas range, but there's a purity to this model that's unbeatable. The soft leather, foam tongue, grey suede panel (that has changed shapes several times since it debuted), height that's just right and more comfortable padding than earlier editions all make this worth investing in if you're looking for a superior shoe that's part of sporting history too. Pioneering and deserving of respect , the Americana Hi 88 is in the Crooked Tongues store right now for Â£77.