How To Wear Your Oliver Cabell GAT Shoes
Tuesday Bote - February 1, 2021
If you’re a sneakerhead, you’ve probably heard of GAT shoes or German Army Trainers. Even if you’re not but are on the lookout for a new pair of understated, versatile kicks, then you should pay attention. GAT shoes have existed for over five decades but have mostly been under the radar until the late 90s, and even then not very hard to obtain in countries outside Europe.
It is likely that if you were in Europe, you might have seen a pair walk down the street and admired them so much that you may have followed them down a block or two, trying to guess what brand they are. They are so likable, and what’s not to like?
Here are tips on how to wear your Oliver Cabell GATs shoes.
What are GAT shoes and Why Do I Want Them?
We call GATs German Army Trainers because this was initially their purpose. The minimalist design is due to the shoe’s mass production in the 1970s when it was a standard-issue for the West German Army. As much as branded statement shoes have been trendy recently, the GAT is rising to match public interest for the opposite reason. Because it is unbranded lends an air of mystery to the shoes and makes them somehow quite desirable. Many fans of GAT shoes buy them for this reason.
But even discovering that this mysterious unbranded shoe is a GAT does not take away its charm. On its own, the GAT shoes’ minimalism is eye-catching. The Germans could have used white tennis shoes for their morning exercises, but the designers put specific characteristics into the shoe to make them more hardworking. These same design characteristics make GAT shoes unique and attractive and make you want to buy a pair.
The GAT is typically a leather sneaker with a suede toe and thin suede strips lining the sides. Besides being of different textures, the suede and the leather are different shades of off-white, so the suede strips are quite noticeable. The entire shoe is then off-set by the flesh-colored gum sole.
The gum sole may seem rigid and inflexible when you first wear it, but instead of hurting your feet, you’ll find that the sole and the structure of the rest of the shoe is instead efficiently supportive, and your feet don’t feel so tired after prolonged wear.
Owners of the OG (original gangsta) GATs can attest that the gum sole is very durable and doesn’t wear down even after several months of heavy use. And this is 40-year-old rubber that’s the topic of our conversation. Several brands that have copied the style of GATs shoes usually fall short with the gum sole. Perhaps the best GAT shoes would be the original Bundeswehr sportschuhe and any dupe with a gum sole that aspires to the original’s durability.
Oliver Cabell’s GATs: Close to the Original
Several brands have made their versions of GATs or at least created designs based on GATs shoes. However, the closest approximation of the original Bundeswehr Sportschuhe, or Federal Defense Sports Shoe, is by Oliver Cabell. They even call the line GAT. The silhouette and the gum sole of Oliver Cabell GATs are almost precisely similar to the original.
They deliberately crafted the shoe without Oliver Cabell branding. Indeed, where you’d usually see their logo on the Low and Demi sneakers’ tongues and backs, there is only empty space in their GATs shoes.
Oliver Cabell GATs shoes are more comfortable than traditional GATs, mainly because of the materials used in making the shoes. While the leather on the GAT upper is sturdy and meant to last several wars, Oliver Cabell’s GATs’ leather is made of calfskin and is supple and buttery. While GAT shoes only have a thin cloth lining inside the shoe, Oliver Cabell’s GATs are lined like their other sneakers. The lining is made of vegetable tanned Spanish leather, while the footbed is Italian calfskin on top of a removable molded insole.
GATs are traditionally off-white trainers, but Oliver Cabell GATs come in six monochrome color blocks: Black, Navy, Charcoal, and, of course, GAT shoes White. The gum sole is made of Italian 70 Shore a rubber sole, and all the same color as the original GAT shoes, except for the Jet Black and the nubuck version of the Navy, both of which have a black sole. By the way, Nubuck is similar to suede. The difference is that the hide’s outer part is sanded to produce that textured surface that feels like velvet.
How Much Are GATs?
Oliver Cabell GATs are priced at $220 a pair, twice as much as one would pay for the original GAT shoes but much cheaper than the designer brand’s versions. The quality of Oliver Cabell GATs is superb. Consider that Oliver Cabell’s shoes are handmade and use the finest Italian leather. The only reason why it does not cost an arm and a leg is Oliver Cabell is a direct-to-consumer brand, which means it doesn’t go through third-party retailers. Therefore, you’re only paying for the cost of making the product and not additional markups.
You can imagine that mass-produced German Army Trainers must be such an inexpensive shoe, so why are there GATs selling for almost $400 a pair? There was a surplus of these shoes when the Western German Army downscaled at the end of the Cold War. Instead, they distributed them to citizens. GATs later appeared on fashion catwalks during the resurgence of sneakers as couture. Designer GATs then joined the luxury sneaker trend, which explains the GAT shoes’ price discrepancy. But if you’re in Europe, you could probably still find original GATs shoes sold at around 30 to 40 euros.
Sneaker nerds love to tell the origins story of the GATs and why the silhouette looks so familiar, as it was probably the prototype of many of today’s popular sneakers. The German army had commissioned the Dassler brothers to design and produce a sports shoe for half a million soldiers. The Dassler brothers, Adolf and Rudolf, eventually broke up their partnership and later separately formed two very high profile sportswear brands. This is mainly the reason why there is confusion about the GAT design origin.
How to Wear Your GAT Shoes?
With class, of course.
GATs are very versatile because of their minimalist and classy design. As with the classic white sneaker, you can wear anything with GATs. The combination of leather and suede and the lithe silhouette grants some sophistication to the shoe and makes it acceptable to wear to the office and dressy, even semi-formal events.
Oliver Cabell’s Black and Jet Black GATs are perfect for stylish dressing; match them with a sleek trench coat or leather jacket. Jazz up your ensemble with an Oliver Cabell leather bracelet for maximum effect.
Wear them with neutral tones.
However, this doesn’t mean that it’s necessarily a stuck-up shoe, and you can wear GATs with board shorts and other loungewear, as well. While a pair of GATs is perfect for dressing up, it has the same impact if you want to dress down.
Wear them with neutral colors for the unassuming yet stylish look when you go to casual events or work. The Oliver Cabell Navy GATs look especially spiffy when completing an all-white ensemble or in neutral tones.
That Oliver Cabell’s GATs come in several colors only means that you should get more than one pair. Sure, you can assuredly match your GAT shoes white or black with anything in your wardrobe, but won’t it be satisfying to be able to wear another color when you want a bit more attention than usual?
If you find a pair from the original German army release, you can use these for your own morning low- to medium-intensity exercises. Dupes of GATS that are true-to-form should also allow you to perform physical activities quite well. We wouldn’t recommend GATs to replace your sports shoes completely, but yoga, skip rope, light jogging, and brisk walking should be fine.
GATs are a classic sleek silhouette that’s not your typical sneaker, and the small differences in the details, as well as the mystery and the minimalism, have turned GATs into fashion must-haves. Oliver Cabell GATs pays homage to its heritage as a functional sneaker beautiful in its simplicity.