Try walking a mile in these shoes, and all of Berlin’s public transportation will be at your feet — because these kicks double as a universal pass for all of the city’s public transport fleet throughout 2018.
Just two days ago, Berliner Verkehrsbetriebe (BVG, Berlin’s transit authority) released its first-ever, limited-edition line of sneakers in a unique project. The shoes were manufactured by Adidas Originals and bear slivers of the city’s character which any Berliner will instantly recognize: the heel counters are tailored with the distinctive upholstery patterns installed on the city’s public transport vehicles, while their laces will be colored in Berlin’s subway colors — yellow and black.
Berlin’s subway upholstery was designed in a squiggly, multicolored, almost camouflage-like pattern to dissuade people from painting graffiti on it. Given the exuberance of color, it’s not surprising that this pattern will only cover a small portion of the new sneakers, lest anyone get dizzy. Combined with the black-and-yellow laces, however, and complemented by other small embellishments and the simple black-white pattern on the front of the shoe, the end result is quite appealing.
But the shoes’ true uniqueness comes from a tiny piece of fabric sewn in their tongues: a cloth version of BVG’s annual season ticket. And that’s because the city wants anyone wearing these sneakers to travel for free on any subway, tram, bus, or ferry anywhere within Berlin’s public transport zones A and B (which cover most of the city) throughout 2018.
Here BVG turned expectations on their heads. While an annual transit pass currently costs up to €728 ($869) for the same zones, the shoes are a comparative bargain at only €180 ($215) a pair. Pass and kicks for less than a traditional pass? Sold! However, the shoes will probably sell like hotcakes and BVG are keeping their numbers low — only 500 pairs will be available for sale at only two locations in Berlin.
That low price does seem to have a well-defined goal in mind — to counter the obvious inconvenience of having to wear the shoes whenever using public transport for the whole of 2018. Still, I imagine you can bring them along in a bag should you want to wear something else. Just make sure to bring both sneakers!
Right now, these 500 pairs of pass-shoes are hitting the pavement and the floors of public transport throughout Berlin. Time will tell how well they work and how much people appreciate the idea — if they do, we’re bound to see similar functional fashion projects pop up all over the world.