There are few sneakers more iconic than the GAT, or German Army Trainer. While they are most well known for Margeila's iconic adaption, their history stretches far further back. While the exact date of origin is murky, we do know that in the late 1970's the West German Military, The Bundeswehr, was seeking new trainers for its soldiers. Given the number of pairs required, Adidas and Puma both aimed to get secure the lucrative contract.
( The Original GAT )
This story is particularly interesting given the context of Adidas and Puma's histories, both run the the feuding Dassler Brothers. Official reports show that Puma created the initial prototypes that would become the famous GAT, but they deny ever having made shoes for the Military. It is Adidas who flaunts their role in the production, claiming to have to produced them from the 1980's onwards. Following the fall of the Berlin Wall in 89' The Bundeswehr was significantly downsized, and thousands of former soldiers sold their GATs to Army Surplus stores, along with the rest of their German Army garb which has a legendary reputation in vintage circles.
It's no surprise that Martin Margeila would eventually happen upon them. He was so taken with them he had his brand buy up dozen's of pairs, clean them and emboss them with his logo to feature in the Margeila SS 1999 Show. Margeila's team would go on to to paint and write custom notes on pairs sold in the early 2000/s before switching to producing their own version of the GAT, dubbed the 'Replica'. They've gone on to become a brand staple with Margeila alongside the Tabi boot.
While we may never know the exact origins of the GAT, or if Puma or Adidas are the true creators, what we do know is the GAT's ubiquity took it from the Surplus stores of Germany to the High Fashion runways of Paris. It's a blank canvas of a shoe, that huge brands worldwide continue to reinterpret year after year. t’s simple design and quality means it's a silhouette that remains truly timeless. Pair your GAT's with a pair of Tailored Trousers or Chinos for a smarter look, or dress them down with some cuffed Levi's 501's. It's hard to go wrong with GAT's.