I designed the Spezial 10 years ago and now Adidas are coming to my hometown of Darwen to celebrate!

Watch more of our videos on Shots! 
and live on Freeview channel 276
Visit Shots! now
Adidas is putting on an international exhibition in this Lancashire town to celebrate 10 years of the Spezial!

Gary Aspden designed the popular Adidas Spezial range ten years ago and now his hometown of Darwen is set to host an international Adidas exhibition to celebrate.

A lifelong three stripe fan, Gary, who previously headed up the label’s Entertainment Team globally, created the concept for the adidas Spezial range back in 2014.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Gary, who has been interested in clothing since his early teens, always wanted to get into design but felt there weren’t enough opportunities in east Lancashire.

Gary with his famous creation, the Spezial.Gary with his famous creation, the Spezial.
Gary with his famous creation, the Spezial. | BwD

Gary said: “Whilst I was a bright kid I didn’t much like school and the only subject I really enjoyed and was good at was art.

“My art teacher, Mrs Arkwright, was the only person who seemed to believe in my abilities. 

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

“I somehow managed to scrape onto a degree course in Fashion in Manchester in the late summer of 1988 yet dropped out after a few months.

“A few years later, I applied to the University of Central Lancashire as a mature student and after 2 years went down to London to try and find work experience as part of the degree.”

At the tender age of 27, Gary managed to find his way into a few unpaid internships, working in the press office of Giorgio Armani, DKNY and Diesel.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

It was during these internships that Gary made contacts in the music industry as well as meeting an Adidas employee.

This employee said she would give him free trainers if he could link her up with musicians that he had connections to.

Gary stood outside Blackburn's King George's Hall.Gary stood outside Blackburn's King George's Hall.
Gary stood outside Blackburn's King George's Hall. | BwD

Gary said: “She left the company and Adidas contacted me to say that they had a bunch of unfulfilled product orders with my number as the main contact. 

“I think they assumed I was involved in music management and when I explained that I was actually a student up in Lancashire!” 

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

The company then asked Gary to come down to London to see them about applying for the now open position in a role called ‘Entertainment Promotions’ and the rest is history.

The free exhibition, coming to Darwen, will be called ‘DECADE – 10 years of Adidas Spezial’ and will run for ten days across two weeks from May 17th with many events planned.

The much-celebrated Blackburn Spezial which is now a highly collectible shoe.The much-celebrated Blackburn Spezial which is now a highly collectible shoe.
The much-celebrated Blackburn Spezial which is now a highly collectible shoe. | BwD

Gary said: “Blackburn with Darwen is regarded as the birthplace of Spezial so it feels appropriate to celebrate its 10-year anniversary here in my hometown.

“I have a connection to Darwen that I find difficult to explain or verbalise.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

“When I’m creating Spezial collections, I often draw on my personal experiences in my youth as a source of inspiration.

“Darwen and Blackburn – where my mum is from – in many ways have made me into the person I am.

“I like to celebrate the area and I’ve often used locally relevant names for Spezial products.

“I suppose by hosting this new exhibition here in Darwen, it’s my way of saying thank you.”

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Gary is passionate about the importance of bringing cultural events to support regeneration in towns like Darwen as he has demonstrated on numerous occasions.

Back in 2019 his team hosted a large-scale Adidas exhibition in neighbouring Blackburn – drawing in die hard Spezial fans from right around the world.

Furthermore, his team launched the LG2 SPZL shoe with Liam Gallagher at an intimate charity gig with the star at Blackburn’s King George’s Hall.

Liam Gallagher at a charity gig at Blackburn’s King George’s Hall.Liam Gallagher at a charity gig at Blackburn’s King George’s Hall.
Liam Gallagher at a charity gig at Blackburn’s King George’s Hall. | BwD

In 2021, Gary also convinced C.P. Company to bring their 50th anniversary in a repurposed underground car park in Darwen – attracting a number of famous faces to the town – from Dynamo the Magician to Goldie and Shaun Ryder.

All these events have helped to raise vital funds for local homelessness charity, Nightsafe – a charity Gary is passionate about and has supported for many years.

Comment Guidelines

National World encourages reader discussion on our stories. User feedback, insights and back-and-forth exchanges add a rich layer of context to reporting. Please review our Community Guidelines before commenting.