Speak the sacred word ‘NMD’ to anyone, and they’ll immediately know what you’re talking about. With no discernible 3 stripes to let others know it’s an Adidas and a sleek, modern silhouette, the shoe has noticeably taken Malaysia by storm, repeatedly selling out no matter the model, no matter the colourway, no matter the collaboration. Here’s the Adidas NMD, under the microscope.
A new type of silhouette for Adidas by design, the NMD takes inspirations from the Micropacer, Rising Star and the Boston Super melded into one sleek shoe, featuring a one piece upper, BOOST midsole, and blocks that distinguish itself from any other shoe out there, formulated by VP of Global Design, Nic Galway. It could be said that the shoe itself is an exercise in modernity and minimalism; Galway quotes that each part of the shoe plays an integral role; taking out one component of the shoe would result in it not functioning as intended. For instance, removing the block sections of the shoe would result in the knit upper not being able to hold itself up and collapse the silhouette as a result.
The NMD capitalised where the Nike Roshe failed, releasing an expensive model of the shoe first; the OG colourway (Black with red and blue blocks) donned in primeknit sold for around 180 USD retail, which translated to about 800 RM on average, given the exchange rate 2 years ago. It was an instant hit, and models immediately sold out right after its release. To cope with the rising demand, Adidas then slowly released the shoe with cheaper materials; mesh top NMDs started popping out in stores at around 650 RM a pop and were swept away by sneakerheads and non-sneakerheads alike almost instantly.
Riding on this wave, Adidas then created different variations of the sneaker, namely the City Sock (Laceless ankle cut designs), XR1 (Caged design), and most recently, the R2 (Reduced tabs). Anything that was plastered with NMD sold like the shoe was never going to be made ever again. Sneaker stores and brands started taking notice of the shoe, and soon collaboration pairs were popping everywhere, from Mastermind Japan, to Packer, A Bathing Ape, and even Pharrell Williams. A Nice Kicks NMD will set you back by the hilarious amount of 5500 RM on the secondary market, accounting for today’s exchange rates, with the Pharrell Williams Hu model priced at a smidge more than the Nice Kicks pair. The hype was ridiculous.
However, as with the simple law of economics, when supply is more than demand, a surplus will occur, resulting in a price fall. Adidas were making so many NMDs that the market was saturated with them. Everyone had a pair or a few pairs, and it seemed senseless to buy any more because everyone on the street was wearing one. They were commonplace, and the ones highly sought after are still the original colourways and rare collaboration models like the Hu Pharrell William Friends and Family pack, and a limited run pitch black model that was serially tagged on the heel strap.
Adidas tried to give the silhouette a resurgence by introducing the R2 model, with only one heel tab on the inner side of the midsole for a cleaner look, but was done so with poor reception. The shoe didn’t manage to capture the essence of what the original once was, only able to stock the shelves of JD Sports and Adidas Originals stores in big malls.
Chatting with Azuwan, helped to shed some light on the situation. “To me, I don’t really see what’s up with the NMD hype. I’ve never owned a pair myself. You ask other people what they like about the NMD, and they can’t answer you. They’ll say oh the silhouette is very nice, one piece construction makes it lightweight la, itu la, ini la, f**k off. All these elements are old, just brought forward and rebranded to look new. Did you know, Malaysia je yang manage to sell out the NMD? Kau pergi UK, Europe, semua atas shelf tak gerak ke mana pun! That’s why you see the resellers, all the receipt comes from the UK, cos it’s not moving anywhere. I’m just stunned as to why the demand for the shoe here is so f**king high.”
In essence then, market saturation killed the NMD. Since the numbers have been flowing and becoming more and more prevalent, the hype for it has died down, and people are starting to shift their attention towards other shoes and models. However, it would be remiss to say that the NMD was just meh. It changed the sneaker game, made itself a must-have item, and for the trendsetters, they wouldn’t be caught dead without wearing em. It’s a sneaker that spawned a new wave of new sneakerheads, enticing new ones with a simplistic yet modern design, and exclusive enough (at least the collab editions) to appeal to the long-timers. It stood out among the rest, and will continue to do so even long after the death of the hype.
Lookout for Under The Microscope: Adidas Ultraboost sometime this week!
For last week’s coverage, click here.