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How Wade Smith Cashed In On The Casuals, The Scallies & The Ravers

Luke Taylor
Wade Smith Liverpool

The Wade Smith store in Liverpool was one of the first places in the UK to get rare adidas at the height of the casual scene.

Back in the early 80s there wasn’t instagram to check out the latest drops or even raffles now, and there wasn’t really a global trainer scene anything like we know it today. If you wanted the latest Forest Hills, Trimm Trab’s or ZX styles, it was word of mouth back then. Some sportswear stores did stock some of the original casual styles, however it wasn’t really targeted directly at the casual subculture. Before the likes of Wade Smith in Liverpool anything adidas at the time was really sold as performance sportswear in the big sportswear chains.

A sportswear and golf store called Hurleys in Manchester gave Wade Smith the inspiration to go it alone in 1982. Although catering for the traditional golfer, Hurleys sold a variety of classic casual brands like Lacoste, Fila and adidas trainers which sold out within minutes due to the growing casual movement of the late 1970s and early 80s sweeping across the North West. Smith had previously worked for Topshop in Liverpool and saw a massive opportunity to cash in on the casual scene with young casuals looking to better each other with the latest sought after 3 stripes from Europe. With a growing demand for casual fashion and adidas trainers, Wade Smith opened his first store on Slater Street in Liverpool in the early 80s looking to cater exclusively for this new breed of casual sportswear lovers.

Wade Smith Liverpool

“Probably the best range of sports shoes in the world.”

Wade Smith

Rumour has it, Smith set off in a van across Europe to source some of the rarest adidas he could find and with his retail knowledge and contacts, gave Liverpool a sportswear store and rare trainer experience like nothing before it. Wade Smith became something of a legend with young casuals popping in to purchase the latest 3 stripes styles on away days with supply and demand at the forefront of the exclusive ‘casual’ business.

Wade Smith didn’t just cash in on the original casual scene, he also cemented a love and admiration for all things 3 stripes in the city of Liverpool that is still probably stronger than anywhere else in the UK. 3 stripes and ‘trainees’ runs deep in Merseyside and Smith played a vital part in the 3 stripes Liverpool heritage. According to the Liverpool Echo Wade Smith shifted around 110,000 pairs of Trimm Trab’s throughout the 80s era. The rarer the import the better with Smith constantly taking regular trips to Europe to source everything from kagoules to adidas Grand Slams.

Wade Smith Liverpool

As casual culture was quickly replaced with the Acid House scene and the chemical generation thanks to North West club’s like Manchester’s notorious Hacienda, Smith saw the changing times and looked again to cash in on the current subculture. Rave culture was now the thing with brands like Timberland, Kickers and bucket hats moving off the shelves as quickly as a pair of Forest Hills had done 10 years earlier. The mid 90s to early noughties saw a boom in scally fashion in the city, and the North West for that matter, with tracksuits and Nike Air Max 95‘s with Smith yet again looking to cash in on the latest subculture and trainer trends.

Although it closed in 2005, Wade Smith has become something of a legend to the city of Liverpool. From the original 80s casuals to the early 90s ravers, Smith knew what he was doing and wasn’t afraid to cater for their needs.

Luke Taylor
Luke Taylor

Luke has lived and breathed the associated lifestyles & subcultures of RC for the last 20 years, as well as gaining a vast knowledge and a wealth of experience in the industry since 2006. His passion is really the techwear side of the spectrum, with brands like Stone Island & Acronym being among some of his personal favorites. Set up in 2013, his industry background & knowledge has seen RC go from strength to strength to become the digital magazine, platform & authority it is today.

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