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German Army Trainers – Five Plus One

Five Plus One is our weekly series of buyer’s guides. We pick a specific category and dig up five great options along with one that’s a little outside the norm.

Five Plus One is our weekly series of buyer’s guides. We pick a specific category and dig up five great options along with one that’s a little outside the norm.

Although the original designer of the German Army Trainer (GAT) has been lost to history, the pattern is usually attributed to either Adidas or Puma. Originally named the Bundeswehr Sportschuhe, GAT’s were produced in the 1980’s for the German military, and there is evidence that the Austrian military used them around the same time.

Regardless of their beginnings, GAT’s are one of the most reinterpreted sneakers designs around (related reading: “Variations on a Sneaker Theme – Beneath the Surface). Although they have a far greater presence among Euro Streetwear companies, that isn’t to say that American designers aren’t fond of the pattern.

1) Epaulet: Sport Trainer in White Calfskin & Grey Suede


Epaulet‘s Sport Trainer is probably the most accurate recreation of the 1980’s GAT on the market. The leather is all white (including the side and heel pieces) except for the toe, which is a grey suede. The sole is nearly identical to the original, save for the fact that “BW-Sport” and the shoe size are missing from the bottom.

The sole’s color also appears a bit darker in the photographs, although even the textured edge of the sole appears similar to the original. At two-hundred twenty-five dollars, picking up these GAT’s is really a no-brainer if you want an accurate historical reproduction.

Available for $225 from Epaulet New York.

2) Hender Scheme: Manual Industrial Products 05 (MIP-05) in Natural

German Army Trainer - Hender Scheme Shoes Manual Industrial Products 05 (MIP-05) in Natural

Traditional GAT’s feature cemented construction, which is really the only way they can be made due to the style of the sole. While maintaining the look and feel of the original sole is important to some, others want to ensure that their shoes will last a lifetime.

Hender Scheme‘s MIP-05 appears to be targeted to the latter consumer and is often touted for its re-sole ability. The actual construction method isn’t widely known – a piece of leather is wrapped and sewn around the perimeter of the shoe, which hides how the sole is actually attached. Regardless, the quality leather and attention to detail of Hender Scheme sneakers would make them highly resoleable even if they use a cement construction.

If you’re interested in learning about common types of leathers used in footwear, head over to “Know Your Shoe Leathers: The 9 Most Common Options“.

Available for $839 from End Clothing.

3) Adidas x White Mountaineering: BW Trainer in Midnight Navy

German Army Trainers - Adidas x White Mountaineering: BW Trainer in Midnight Navy

Even if you don’t believe Adidas was responsible for producing the original GAT, they have been producing similar sneakers for a very long time. The recent Adidas x White Mountaineering BW Trainer is very close to the original, and even has “BW-Sport” and the traditional three-digit shoe size on the bottom of the sole. The design differs slightly from normal GAT’s, but the toe pattern is clearly an homage to the originals. The upper of this pair is made of a synthetic material, so if you don’t believe in using leather, then this pair might be for you.

Available for $130 from Gravity Pope.

4) Svensson: Army Sport Trainer – Suede Olive

Germany Army Trainers - Svensson Army Sport Trainer - Suede Olive

If Adidas can change the overall pattern of their GAT, then I don’t see a reason why Svensson can’t change the sole style for their Army Sport Trainer. The cup sole they chose is far from traditional, but it has the added benefit of being sewn to the upper. This construction method and the fact that it is quite easy to source cup-soles means that this pair is far easier to re-sole than most of the other pairs on this list. Svensson forwent using two different leathers when they designed their GAT, but the olive suede that they used really matches with the style of the shoe.

Available for €168 from Svensson.

5) Moncler: Biarritz Low Top

German Army Trainer - Moncler Biarritz Low Top Shoe

Moncler‘s Biarritz Low Top is another great interpretation of this classic design, although there are several key differences. The heel design is not traditional and is made of grey suede rather than smooth white leather. The side panel has a secondary stitched “panel” rather than having another piece of leather, and it also has a piece of leather with the Moncler logo sewn on. Finally, the bottom of the sole is completely different from the original; the edge of the sole has the rough, coagulated look of the original sole but it also lacks the triangle pattern along the top edge. All that said, this is a very good reinterpretation of the original GAT, and the quibbles I listed above are incredibly minor overall.

Available for £275 from ZooFashions.

Plus One – Maison Margiela: Blue Paint Splatter Replica Sneakers

Germany Army Trainer - Maison Margiela Blue Paint Splatter Replica Sneakers

Maison Margiela is often credited as reintroducing the German Army Trainer to the world – some would argue against this statement, seeing how companies like Adidas had been producing GAT inspired sneakers for many years. Be that as it may, MM had a very large role in popularizing this style of sneaker; their “normal” GAT is very similar to the original but with a grey suede side panel rather than a smooth white one.

They also produce less traditional replicas such as the Blue Paint Splatter Sneaker; that pair has a traditional pattern and sole, but it is one color rather than being two-toned and has paint “splatters” at the toe. It’s definitely not for everyone, but it’s certainly one of the most interesting GAT’s on the market.

Available for $650 from SSENSE.

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