Home Men's Fashion A Guide To German Army Trainers

A Guide To German Army Trainers

by Cressida meale
German Army Trainers

Alright, gents, listen up. If you’ve been sleeping on German Army Trainers—or GATs, as they’re more commonly called—it’s time to wake up. These kicks aren’t just the next big trend; they’ve got history, style, and comfort jammed into one slick package. In the next few minutes, you’ll learn the low-down on GATs: their origins, why they’re taking the style world by storm, and where to snag the best pair for your hard-earned cash. You’ll even get the scoop on some budget-friendly options that won’t sacrifice your street cred. So, no fluff—just essential info. Let’s dive in.

The Birth of GATs: A History Lesson

German Army Trainers
via maisonmargiela.com

What’s the backstory here? GATs have been around since the ’70s, and while there’s some debate on whether Adidas or Puma gave birth to the original model, one thing’s for sure: These kicks were designed to train West German soldiers. Fast forward to the end of the Cold War, and surplus shops flooded with these minimal, well-built sneakers.

The Anatomy of a GAT

So what makes a GAT a GAT? There are a few signature traits you’ll spot:

  • White leather upper
  • Gum sole
  • Suede accents

Even the modern-day versions, like those from designer Martin Margiela, stick to these core elements. Look for that extra panel on the toe box; it’s the GAT’s signature move.

The OGs: BW Sport

German Army Trainers
via maisonmargiela.com

BW stands for “bundeswehr sportschuhe,” which is German for “federal defense sports shoe.” You can still find these originals, usually from $40 to $100 plus shipping. If you’re a purist, it might be worth the hunt.

The Cult Classic: Margiela GATs

Enter Martin Margiela’s luxury take on the classic. Since 1998, these have been the go-to for those in the fashion inner circles. What sets them apart? Upgraded materials and attention to detail. These aren’t just shoes but an investment in your style arsenal.

German Army Trainers
via maisonmargiela.com

Beyond Monochrome: The Color Spectrum

While the original GATs had a simple color scheme, the Margiela versions have exploded with color options. The paint splatter design is a huge hit. But if you’re a minimalist, stick to the OG white and grey.

How to Sport GATs: A Style Guide

German Army Trainers
via maisonmargiela.com

Let’s be clear—GATs are casual kicks. Don’t try pairing them with a suit; it’s a sartorial train wreck waiting to happen. But jeans, chinos, or shorts? You’re golden. They complement practically any color and lend your outfit a low-key, relaxed vibe.

Affordable Alternatives

If the Margiela price tag makes you wince, don’t worry—there are cost-effective alternatives that still give you the GAT experience. Check out platforms like eBay, Grailed, or Poshmark for second-hand Margielas or replica versions that won’t break the bank.

There you have it—your complete guide to the world of GATs. Whether you go for the original BW Sport or splurge on the Margiela version, you’re making a solid style choice to elevate your sneaker game.

What Are The Best Color Options For GATs? 

Regarding color options for GATs, it’s about balancing your personal style and versatility. Here’s the rundown:

  1. White/Grey/Gum: This is the classic, original look. It’s versatile and timeless and pairs well with almost anything in your wardrobe. If you’re looking for a fail-safe option, this is it.
  2. All White: A sleek, modern twist that’s minimal yet striking. Just be ready for the upkeep—white shoes can be unforgiving regarding dirt and scuffs.
  3. Black/Gum: Want to go dark but keep it casual? Black GATs with a gum sole could be your jam. These work great for evening wear or when you want to add a little edge to your outfit.
  4. Paint Splatter: Maison Margiela offers this artsy, avant-garde option. These are statement shoes, so let them be the focal point of your outfit.
  5. Navy/White: If you want to break away from monochrome but aren’t ready for a splash of bold color, a navy/white combo could be a solid pick. It’s still neutral but provides a softer contrast.
  6. Seasonal Colors: Brands often release seasonal colorways, like olive green or burgundy. They might be less versatile, but they can be a fun way to refresh your look.

Remember, your shoes are an extension of your style. Don’t shy away from a color you love because it’s not ‘classic.’ Your best bet is to start with a versatile color and branch out as you become more comfortable and attuned to your style preferences. Go ahead, make your move, and step out in style.

Where Can I Find Second-Hand Margielas Or Replica Versions? 

If you’re searching for second-hand Margiela GATs or solid replica versions that don’t break the bank, you’ve got options, man. Let’s get into where you can cop a pair:

Second-Hand Margiela GATs

  1. eBay: The granddaddy of online resale, eBay usually has a broad range of sizes and conditions. Just check the seller’s ratings and reviews before pulling the trigger.
  2. Grailed: Aimed squarely at the menswear crowd, Grailed is a treasure trove of high-end and streetwear pieces. You can often find Margielas in excellent condition here.
  3. Poshmark: Another popular resale platform, Poshmark lets you negotiate prices, which could score you a sweeter deal. The downside? It’s a mixed bag in terms of what’s available.
  4. Local Consignment Stores: Don’t rule out the power of local spots. Some consignment shops specializing in designer goods might have what you’re looking for.
  5. Reddit’s r/MaleFashionMarket: If you’re already a Redditor, watch this subreddit for individuals looking to unload their Margiela.

Replica Alternatives

  1. Beckett Simonon: This brand offers a GAT-like design with ethical practices and quality materials.
  2. Adidas Sambas: It’s not an exact replica, but the Samba has a similar vibe and is much easier on the wallet.
  3. New Republic: Another affordable brand offering a silhouette and design similar to GATs.
  4. Amazon & Zara: If you’re not picky about quality, you might find some GAT-inspired options at these more accessible retail outlets.

Remember, when shopping second-hand, always check for authenticity—ask for additional photos, certificates of authenticity, or any proof of purchase from a reputable store if available. And if you opt for replicas, read up on customer reviews for insights on quality and durability. Now go get yourself that killer pair of kicks you’ve been eyeing!

Can GATs Be Worn With Formal Wear?

Let’s get straight to the point: GATs and formal wear are generally not a match made in sartorial heaven. While GATs are versatile sneakers that can elevate a casual or smart-casual outfit, they lack the sophistication and sleekness required to mesh well with formal wear like suits or tuxedos.

Here’s the deal—GATs are inherently casual, designed originally for military training, not swanky events. Thanks to their leather upper, suede detailing, and gum sole, they’ve got a sporty, laid-back vibe. Pairing them with a sharp suit or formal outfit would create a style clash that could destroy your entire look.

If you’re heading to an event where a suit is a non-negotiable, your best bet is to stick with more traditional formal shoes like Oxfords, Derbies, or loafers. If the event is more on the ‘smart-casual’ side and you’re really itching to rock those GATs, consider pairing them with well-fitted chinos and a blazer for a polished look yet retaining a touch of casual flair.

So, keep your GATs in their lane- casual to smart-casual attire. Trust me, you’ll get plenty of mileage from them without forcing them into formal situations. Cheers!


Alright, guys, we’ve covered a lot of ground, so let’s wrap this up. GATs are more than just sneakers; they’re a style statement rich in history and highly versatile. Whether you go OG with BW Sport or upmarket with Margiela, you can’t go wrong—pair them with casual outfits. They’re not suited for formal wear, but they’ll elevate your business to a new level. If you’re on a budget, don’t stress—there are affordable alternatives that deliver the same kind of vibe. So, if you want to step up your footwear game, now’s the time to take action. Dive into the GAT world; it’s a move you won’t regret. Cheers!

Photo on maisonmargiela.com

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