Adidas Iniki / I-5923: A Retro Runner in the 21st Century
- Price: $130 [Sold out on Adidas.com / Regularly On Sale elsewhere]
- Pros: Cheap, Comfortable, Stylish
- Cons: No Longer Made, Hard to Clean
The Adidas Iniki (also known as the I-5923) was one of those shoes you couldn’t escape a few years ago. Boost was at it’s maximum hype, retro 70’s runners were starting their upswing in popularity, and right in the middle of the two of those were the Adidas Iniki. By combining these, Adidas was able to launch a shoe that ticket a lot of boxes.
These are also the shoes that inspired this entire website. I wanted to pick up a pair but was worried about the materials – man-made suede, thin mesh upper, and no structure? Sure, they look great on the Adidas ad, but how would these materials hold up to hours of pounding the pavement? Nobody had posted anything more than a few Instagram shots. So – how did they hold up? Let’s find out.*
Real quick though, what is the difference between the Adidas Iniki and the Adidas I-5923?
Rumor has it that Adidas was sued for trademark infringement on the word Iniki, and had to scramble last minute to get something new, landing on the questionable name “I-5923.” That being said, even though this specific model is actually a I-5923 and not an Iniki, I’ve never heard anyone say they prefer the new name. So, we’ll be using Iniki here.
*By the way, after I bought my pair, Foamer Simpson ended up doing his own long term test over on youtube.
It’s not hard to see where Adidas got the inspiration of the Iniki from. The upper design is almost an exact copy of various Adidas running shoe models from the 1970’s. That means suede on the toe guard, eyelets, and heel counter, and light airy mesh on almost all of the rest of the upper.
On this pair, the upper is made up primarily of a navy blue, with orange hits on the sides, back, and tongue. The name of the shoe – Iniki or I-5923 – is added right behind the laces.
The only real structure of the shoes comes from a think plastic overlay making up the three stripes on the side, and some padding around the collar. I can tell you – after wearing these more than 100 times – you can tell. Of course, there is the normal collapsing of the toebox, but the biggest offender is around the eyelets. On both shoes, the materials stretched out and created a bump at the very bottom of the laces.
We will get into what I’ve done to care for these a bit later, but these are dirt magnets to the point where it really impacts the look. These will look grungy pretty fast. You can also see just how much the shoe stretches out around the three stripes. The mesh will end up bubbling out in between the stripes.
That being said, from a rips and tears perspective, these shoes have held up really well. Really, really well. These have been my beater pair of shoes for more than two years – going places I don’t want to take my other sneakers – and just won’t die.
Mid- and Outsole:
These shoes are fairly basic when it comes to their bottom half. The mid sole is made up of a thick layer of boost. All white, as these came out before Adidas has figured out how to paint it without cracking.
Underneath, these feature a gum outsole with large hexagonal holes. There is plenty of room for the boost to expand here.
Fit & Comfort:
The Adidas Iniki fit big and pretty sloppy. There is nothing to contain your foot. This shoe came from the “sock on a slab of foam” era, and while it might not look like it, it certainly feels like it. This means that it is very accommodating for various foot shapes. Wide feet? No problem. Lots of volume? No problem. Narrow? Sure, why not. Just don’t expect any support.
I have these in a size 12, and that is definitely the right size. They started off slightly small, and now fit slightly large, but both a 13 and an 11.5 would not have fit at one point in time. For reference, I wear a 13 in Ultraboosts, 12.5 in Stan Smiths, and 13 in Jordan 1s. For a full listing of sizing on all the shoes we have reviewed, click here.
From a comfort perspective, these shoes are among the best I’ve ever worn. As we mentioned a couple weeks back in our Ultraboost 21 review, Adidas’ boost isn’t the same in every model. Ignoring the debate about it being caged or drilled, the density of the foam can make a major difference. In other words, for a given volume, adidas can add more or less TPU pellets. This gives the shoes very different properties.
Here, Adidas went for a very low density take on Boost. That makes these shoes extra squishy and bouncy under feet. It’s the same trick they use to make the Yeezy 350 V2’s seem softer than most of the Adidas models. This makes these shoes extremely comfortable to wear around town. Combined with an upper that has next to no structure at all, these are really more like slippers than shoes.
The soft Boost does have a drawback, however. It is going to “bottom out” much quicker than the denser stuff. While these shoes have not gone completely rock hard, they are definitely not quite the same as they were out of the box.
The Adidas Iniki is made up of a variety of mostly man-made materials. The most important is the expanded thermoplastic polyurethane – also known as Boost – midsole. First released in 2013, Boost was a game changer in comfort, though it’s now any brand that wants to offer a similar outsole can.
Continuing on the bottom of the shoe, the outsole is made up of rubber. For an outsole with so many holes in it, it has held up extremely well. I have no doubts that there will still be rubber long after the comfort of this shoe is completely gone.
Moving to the upper, the suede panels are all a man-made suede material. I’ve always found that Nike did fake suede better than Adidas, and these shoes are no exception to that rule. This material hasn’t ripped or anything, but it certainly looks worn.
The majority of the rest of the upper is an extremely thin mesh, and this has been the biggest surprise of all. When I originally took the shoes out of the box, I assumed this would be the first failure point – rips, tears, pulling, etc. I’ve had all of these happen to primeknit shoes, and figured these would be no different. However, other than a bit of stretching, this material looks great. There isn’t a single loose thread on it.
For being shoes that look so delicate, the materials on this shoe have held up surprisingly well.
Ease of Care:
Unfortunately, while the materials are great from a durability standpoint, there are some major let downs from the Adidas Iniki when it comes to keeping them looking good.
The biggest is that the man-made suede leaves you with two bad alternatives when it gets dirty. First, you can clean the suede, which takes much of the blue dye with it. Second, you can live with the dirt. I’ve tried suede cleaner, water, a horsehair brush – none of them are able to clean without removing some color.
As you can see, I’ve just accepted that these will have dirt stains on them forever.
Otherwise, there isn’t much to do with these shoes. The knit material, as well as the side stripes and the orange panel on the back are all either plastic or heavily coated in plastic so they wipe off easily with just a little bit of water.
Pricing & Value:
Originally priced at $130, the Adidas Iniki has not been available directly from Adidas for some time now. Thankfully, if you’re looking for a pair, you can find them all over the place. I find you can generally get the best deals over on ebay. At time of writing, brand new pairs start at around $45. Amazon has pairs as well, though pricing might be a bit higher.
Just be sure to make sure you are only looking at the Iniki or the I-5923. There was an N-5923 model as well that was designed to look like this one, but was made using cheaper materials throughout the shoe.
For $45, this shoe is an absolute steal. More comfortable than an Ultraboost out of the box, and much easier to style with every day wear, the Iniki does something rare. Normally you need to pick two: stylish, comfortable, and cheap. In some cases (Jordan 1) you don’t even get two. Here, you have the opportunity to grab all three.
This is about the best value in sneakers you can get.
Since I’ve bought these shoes, I’ve had almost any kind of sneaker you can think of pass through my hands. Yeezys, Nikes, Jordans, New Balances and more. While I still have many of these – and have described how much I like them on these pages – none of them have stayed in my rotation as long as the humble Adidas Inikis.
The retro-runner look means you can wear them with shorts or sweats, but unlike most athleisure runners you can also wear them with chinos or jeans. They are extremely comfortable. And, even though they are hard to keep clean, they are cheap enough that you don’t really care.
The only real drawback of the shoe is that Adidas doesn’t make them anymore.
That they don’t make them anymore also means that the pricing on them is probably only going to go up. So, if you’re thinking of picking up a pair – go do it.