Despite seven decades in the game, Diadora is still relatively fresh to the world of casual footwear. Over the past four years, the Italian sportswear brand has made strong moves in the lifestyle sector, carving a niche through heritage throwbacks, acclaimed colabs and revered Made in Italy construction. This year, Diadora built on this successful formula to produce some of the finest – if underrated – sneakers of 2017. Diadora didn't push boundaries to the same extent as other brands this year, but what they did produce more than lived up to the reputation of Italian-made.
Made in Italy
Diadora spent 2017 collaborating with revered retailers throughout the US and Europe. As in previous years, a number of collaborators derived inspiration from iconic elements of Italian culture; for example, we saw END.'s opera-inspired V7000 and Titolo's colourful Intrepid inspired by sugar-coated almonds traditionally gifted at Italian weddings. The Good Will Out took a trip through time with a trio of runners that referenced the rise and fall of the Roman Empire. Each was executed flawlessly, though less emphasis appeared to be placed upon Italian themes this year as a whole, and we saw releases from the likes of Social Status, hanon and Patta each stray from this thematic template.
Above all other drops, it was Afew's 'Highly Addictive' V7000 and LimitEDitions' 'Correfocs' N9000 that truly stole 2017's spotlight. Afew's effort played on the addictive nature of sneaker collecting, going so far as to seal the colab inside a single-use blister pack styled after pharmaceutical packaging. It wasn't an easy shoe to get a hold of, but you had to be even luckier to get your hands on its accompanying pair dubbed 'The Cure' – just 50 pairs were released! Over in Barcelona, LimitEDitions followed up 2015's 'Castellers' N9000 with a worthy successor in the form of the 'Correfocs' N9000. The shoe paid tribute to the store's Catalonian heritage and LE showed appreciation to their most dedicated fans by giving owners of the 'Castellers' first dibs.
Pop Culture Partnerships
Diadora surprised the sneaker world in 2016 when they teamed up with West Coast retailer BAIT for five officially licensed colabs based on popular Dreamworks properties such as Shrek, Masters of the Universe and Felix the Cat. In 2017, Diadora and BAIT strengthened their partnership with two additional colab collections based on beloved pop culture icons. The first emerged in September in the form of four Italian-made sneakers themed after the most iconic characters from the Transformers universe. Bumblebee, Optimus Prime, Megatron and Soundwave were all represented spectacularly and came bundled with an exclusive collectible figure of their respective character.
Keeping the robotic themes flowing, BAIT followed up their Decepticon dedication with a tribute to everyone's favourite android, Astro Boy. The colab delivered special make-ups of both the B.Elite and Intrepid silhouettes lovingly loaded with nods to the Mighty Atom. A matching track jacket was also produced. We're excited to see what properties are in the pop culture pipeline for 2018!
Reflecting on the Past
Diadora's rich heritage is one of their greatest strengths. Resurrected retro runners like the V7000, S8000 and N9000 were all met with high praise upon their return, but the brand is just warming up. Their back catalogue is extensive and almost untapped, so we always look forward to another gem emerging from the archives. The Aeon made a surprise return back in February and was treated to the illustrious 'Espresso Ristretto' treatment for its encore debut. The result was a perfect reconstruction of the 1993 runner made to true OG standards – a treat for all retro running enthusiasts.
With 2018 marking Diadora's 70th anniversary, the brand decided to branch out with something a little unusual to wrap up 2017 and set the tone for the year ahead. Drawing on its hiking boot origins, Diadora appointed Italian boot manufacturer Diemme to rework their popular Roccia silhouette borrowing from Diadora's original designs. The result was the luxurious Tonale Mod 1948 – a perfect tribute to the past.