Verdict from +100 user reviews

9 reasons to buy

  • A couple of customers indicate that the Adidas Handball Spezial is the perfect shoe for handball goalkeepers.
  • Many reviewers commend the sneaker’s uncontested comfort.
  • It is a durable silhouette according to a few customers.
  • A user insists that the sneaker’s heel is brilliantly slippery enough for low-height stops in handball.
  • Less than a handful of consumers are delighted that the Adidas Handball Spezial’s grip works well.
  • Like most sneakers found in the Adidas Spezial collection, some purchasers praise the vintage appeal and retro styling of the Adidas Handball Spezial.
  • A couple of buyers mention that Adidas priced this sneaker accordingly.
  • Several consumers love the quality and construction of the sneaker.
  • The stability is perfect with these Handball Spezial, a couple of reviewers have commented.

3 reasons not to buy

  • A customer is disappointed that the material used on the sneaker’s upper is non-breathable.
  • A handful of reviewers experience a narrow fit.
  • The Adidas Handball Spezial, unfortunately, comes in limited colorways.

Bottom line

Reviving the vintage line intended for handball was one of the prime objectives of launching the Adidas Handball Spezial. Aside from pulling it out of the Adidas vault, they integrated a couple of contemporary technologies like the Adiprene cushioning and Torsion system for stability to enhance the athleisure feel in a low profile facade. Going for racket games and indoor soccer sports would be at the top of the Handball Spezial’s list.

Tip: see the best sneakers.

Good to know

The sneaker was made in a unisex construction and offered in men’s sizing. It maintains the traditional lace-up enclosure system with enhanced forefoot cushioning via the Adiprene + feature.

Merging the dad shoe-image with the laidback Freddie Mercury silhouette was a brilliant mix employed by the Adidas Handball Spezial. Men can wear it like Jonah Hill does with straight-up denim jeans and long-sleeved shirts or white tees.

Other iterations of the sneaker still maintain the original 1979 tooling with a sleek and continuous gum rubber sole. These sneakers can be dressed up with tight-bum jeans like those worn in vintage movies with plain white tees.

Either way, the Adidas Handball Spezial still maintains the overlay design of its predecessors with an almost wingtip toe patch and the jagged accents on the lace bed and Three Stripes. The one with the Adiprene and Torsion system has embroidered Spezial markings on its vamps.

The iconic aesthetic of the classic Handball shoe was injected with performance-enhancing upgrades namely the Adiprene + forefoot cushioning plus the Torsion mid shank for a smooth heel-to-toe transition.

Don’t be confused by the naming of this vintage-inspired sneaker as it was born to carry the legacy of two of the top silhouettes for the handball sport. The Adidas Handball Spezial has the words “Handball” and “Spezial” in it which traverses different paths of limelight and popularity. Each of which will be discussed below.

Since the beginning of its incarnation, Handball had been a sport without proper footwear until Adidas came along to play. From its roots in the late 19th century, the Olympic sport was soon to spark another sneaker franchise that was bound to shatter decades of style.

  The Adidas Spezial

The Adidas Spezial was first introduced in 1979 at the company’s birthplace of Germany. It was initially intended for the Handball sport which is the same reason it can be co-interpreted as the Adidas Handball Spezial. Knowing that the Handball sport requires swift movements and abrupt turns on the court, the sneaker was designed to have a sturdy, and thick, reliable sole.

The Spezial became a hometown favorite of players from Germany, Holland, and Scandinavia and soon began to wear the street-smart silhouette off the court. This movement ignited a cult following for the sneaker which can often be partnered with casual denim or the coveted tracksuit.

In the late 80s approaching the 90s, Adidas was somewhat struggling as a global brand, and competing with Reebok and Nike was a formidable task to pursue. What they did was to reconstruct their footwear designs and introduce an all-around feature built to tackle any kind of activity or sport. The Adidas Torsion System was released alongside their EQT footwear line and promised to maintain a stable stance between the ball of the foot and the heel.

With the casual movement slowing down and the birth of numerous outrageous designs surfacing, the imagery of the Adidas Spezial sneaker stowed away from the fashion fame. Good thing that the loyalists clung to its aesthetic like an insatiable leech and soon saw the light of day in the 2010s which was the era for hardcore vintage apparel. A key example of its rise was driven by the release of the Adidas Spezial “Special” which shines in a blue suede upper with white accents on the laces and the Three Stripes.

  Vintage look with modern technology

The prominence of retro footwear dominated the market of 2015-2018 which was a very healthy turn-out for the Spezial. With the help of quintessential people like Gary Aspden, the Adidas Spezial line boosted its minority appeal into the commercial world. Commemorating its comeback, Adidas re-introduced the vintage design of the Adidas Handball Spezial in 2018.

The retro-programming of the Handball Spezial of the past was upgraded with Adiprene + and a Torsion System mid-shank component. These performance-enhancing duos give the old-school Handball Spezial its contemporary need to strive in the current environment. The original look of a continuous gum midsole was now broken by the Torsion system which not only enhances its utility but also adds an athleisure flair.

  • The gum rubber outsole contains the iconic pivot points which are also surprisingly non-marking.
  • The tongue and insole are composed of an EVA material.
  • Aside from the Adiprene + forefoot cushioning, the heel also administers an Adiprene shock-absorbing feature for support.
  • The prominent colorway of this low-top sneaker is the Core Black/Core White.

Danny McLoughlin
Danny McLoughlin

Danny McLoughlin is a researcher for RunRepeat covering football, sneakers and running. After graduating with a degree in computer science from The University of Strathclyde, Danny makes sure never to miss a game of his beloved Glasgow Rangers or the Scotland national football team. He has been featured in prestigious publications such as The Washington Post, The Irish Times, Footwear News and the like.