German Army Trainers (GATs) are some of the coolest and most comfortable
But what are GAT
What’s the best German Army Trainer you can buy? What about more affordable alternatives?
Shop the Post
This guide will answer all of those questions and more. Sit back and relax: here’s everything you need to know about GATs.
Thanks to Our Sponsor
This article is sponsored by Mytheresa, a luxury e-retailer that carries over 100 amazing menswear brands from around the world.
Mytheresa provided several of the pieces you’ll see throughout this post, like the Maison Margiela Replicas – the quintessential German Army Trainers.
Mytheresa guarantees the authenticity of their products. They also offer free 2-day shipping in the U.S. and free returns.
Want to have a luxury boutique shopping experience without leaving your house? Click here to check out Mytheresa.
What Are German Army Trainers?
The German Army Trainer, or GAT, is a style of sneaker that’s actually been around since the 1970s.
There’s some confusion about who actually produced the original model almost 50 years ago, although it looks like Adidas (and maybe Puma) was involved.
Either way, hundreds of thousands of these
After the Cold War ended, ex-soldiers sold their gear to surplus shops, flooding the market with these well-built minimalist leather
While the silhouette has been copied, modified and remixed many times over the decades – most famously by fashion designer Martin Margiela – all GATs have a few common design elements:
- Leather upper (usually white)
- Gum sole
- Suede detailing
The original German Army Trainer (the one produced for West German Army soldiers) had a distinctive suede overlay on the toe box and an extra piece of white leather sewn onto the side panel.
Modern GATs, like the Margiela Replica, have the same iconic grey suede detailing on the toe box, along with suede eyestays, suede side panels, and a suede patch on the heel.
The traditional GAT was white, grey and gum. Modern GATs come in many different colorways, many of which don’t even have gum soles.
What really makes a GAT recognizable is the extra panel on the toe box. Even if it’s not made from suede, or if it’s the same color as the upper, it’s always there.
BW Sport: The Original GAT Shoes
The original German Army Trainer was either produced by adidas or Puma (shockingly, this is still up for debate). It was called the BW Sport and can still be purchased through secondhand shops like eBay.
BW stands for “bundeswehr sportschuhe” which means “federal defence sports shoe” in German.
Many purists prefer to hunt for a pair of these original GATs in the right size and condition, which run anywhere from $40 to $100 plus shipping.
But, if budget allows, it might make sense to spend a little more on what is arguably the best iteration of this iconic sneaker style…
Maison Margiela Replica GAT
Launched in 1998, the Margiela GAT has had a cult following among men’s fashion enthusiasts for over 20 years.
Compared to the minimalist white leather sneaker (i.e., Adidas Stan Smith or Common Projects Achilles), the MM GAT has always flown way under the radar.
But in certain communities, like Reddit’s r/malefashionadvice, it’s never gone out of style – and for good reason.
Belgian fashion designer, Martin Margiela, actually used the original BW Sport
The first colorway was and is still true to the original – white, grey and gum with minimal branding.
The biggest difference was the use of grey suede on the heel, eyestay and side panel.
Of course, since Maison Margiela is a high end label, Replica
They’re not dainty, though. These
These days, Maison Margiela introduces new colorways to their Replica line each season. Their paint splatter Replica is always a big hit.
I think the different colorways are cool, but if you want a minimal shoe collection, the original white/grey version is your best option.
How to Wear GAT
These are casual
Any type of shorts, chino pants or corduroys will work well too, including tan, olive, grey, navy, burgundy and brown.
I find myself reaching for GATs when I’m wearing casual pants, like jeans or cords, and casual knit tops.
I love the fresh, minimal, laid back vibe this combination produces. And, while I love plain white
Margiela GAT Alternatives
Maison Margiela Replica
But you can also opt for a more affordable alternative – a sort of Replica replica, if you will.
All of these Maison Margiela Replica alternatives are worth your consideration:
You really can’t go wrong with any of those, so don’t overthink it!
Questions About GAT Shoes
Here are answers to some of the most commonly asked questions about GAT
What are GAT shoes?
GAT shoes, also called “GAT
Who made the original German Army Trainer?
The original GATs were called the BW Sport, and they were made by either adidas or Puma (this is still up for debate) in the 1970s.
How do you style GAT
GATs are casual
How do you clean Margiela GATs?
Since Margiela GATs are made from leather and suede, you’ll need to clean the leather and suede parts separately. To remove dirt, use a wet wipe on the leather and sole. Soak the laces in hot soapy water or a mixture of water and bleach, then let them dry. Use a suede brush to clean the suede patches.
The German Army Trainer is one of the best casual sneaker styles you can add to your wardrobe, especially if you want to set yourself apart from the pack.
I’d love to hear your thoughts: do you wear GAT
Share your thoughts in the comments section below!