Size and fit

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.

Adidas Handball Spezial Style

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.

Notable Features

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.

Adidas Handball Spezial History

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.

Nice to know

  • 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.


Facts / Specs

Style: Retro, Sporty, Minimalist
Top: Low
Inspired from: Other
Collection: Adidas Originals, Adidas Adiprene, Adidas Torsion
Closure: Laces
Material: Leather, Suede, Gum Sole, EVA, OrthoLite
Season: Spring, Fall

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Danny McLoughlin
Danny McLoughlin

Danny is a sports nut with a particular interest in football and running. He loves to watch sports as much as he loves to play. Danny was lead researcher on RunRepeat and The PFA’s report into Racial Bias in Football Commentary. His football and running research has been featured in The Guardian, BBC, New York Times and Washington Post.