An international Adidas exhibition to celebrate 10 years of its successful Spezial range is to be hosted in Darwen.

A lifelong three-stripe fan, Gary Aspden, who is from the town, previously headed up the label’s Entertainment Team globally and created the concept for the Adidas Spezial range in 2014.

It is a modern, premium, archive-inspired range of footwear, apparel and accessories which has often taken inspiration from its Lancashire roots.

Over the past 10 years, the Spezial range has released a host of products that give nods to the area, from the Feniscowles jacket to the Intack SPZL trainers and the Sudell tracksuit.

Lancashire Telegraph: Gary (right) with Roy KeaneGary (right) with Roy Keane (Image: Blackburn with Darwen Council)

The free exhibition, ‘DECADE – 10 years of Adidas Spezial’, will run for 10 days across two weeks from May 17, with a full programme of events being planned.

Details of where the exhibition will be held and other events planned have yet to be revealed.

Gary is passionate about the importance of bringing cultural events to support regeneration in towns like Darwen as he has demonstrated on numerous occasions.

Back in 2019, his team hosted a large-scale Adidas exhibition in Blackburn, drawing in diehard Spezial fans from around the world.

As well, his team launched the LG2 SPZL shoe with Liam Gallagher at an intimate charity gig with the star at King George’s Hall in Blackburn.

In 2021, Gary also convinced C.P. Company to bring its 50th anniversary to a repurposed underground car park in Darwen – attracting a number of famous faces to the town including magician Dynamo, and musicians Goldie and Shaun Ryder.

All these events have helped to raise vital funds for Nightsafe, a homelessness charity Gary is passionate about and has supported for many years.

Gary said: “Blackburn with Darwen is regarded as the birthplace of Spezial – graphic designer Gary Watson who works on the range with me is also based here – so it feels appropriate to celebrate its 10 year anniversary here in my hometown.

“I have a connection to Darwen that I find difficult to explain or verbalise.

“When I’m creating Spezial collections, I often draw on my personal experiences in my youth as a source of inspiration.

“Darwen and Blackburn – where my mum is from – in many ways have made me into the person I am.

“I like to celebrate the area and I’ve often used locally relevant names for Spezial products.

“I suppose by hosting this new exhibition here in Darwen, it’s my way of saying thank you.”

Lancashire Telegraph: Many of Gary's products hark back to his rootsMany of Gary's products hark back to his roots (Image: Blackburn with Darwen Council)

The last Adidas exhibition in the borough marked the launch of the much-celebrated Blackburn SPZL shoe.

There are plans in place this year to release an anniversary version of this now highly collectible shoe.

The Adidas Spezial team have worked with a number of famous faces for their marketing campaigns, including on films for recent collections with actor Stephen Graham and footballer Roy Keane.

Gary, a diehard Blackburn Rovers fan, added: “People often question why I’m so keen to keep doing things locally when these exhibitions could be anywhere in the world.

“I just hope that the projects help show what can be possible with a bit of investment and imagination.

“This new exhibition will once again attract thousands of people to Blackburn with Darwen and we’re looking forward to running it over the same weekend as Darwen Live – the largest free music festival in the whole of the UK.

“I have a huge amount of respect for the people who are involved with that event as I believe it’s been pivotal in transforming Darwen into a great town for a night out – boosting the night-time economy in the process.”

The exhibition is set to be hosted in Darwen town centre in an empty shop space recently leased by the council as part of its £120 million regeneration plans for the town.

Lancashire Telegraph: Gary with council leader Phil RileyGary with council leader Phil Riley (Image: Blackburn with Darwen Council)

Councillor Phil Riley, leader of Blackburn with Darwen Council, said: “We are incredibly proud of Gary and what he’s achieved with Adidas, including the super successful Spezial line.

“We are also grateful that he continues to choose to showcase our borough with these events, which really are incredible.

“Gary has been visionary in his determination to help regenerate our towns through culture, something we’re passionate about here in Blackburn with Darwen and are really making waves with.

“His journey from an East Lancs lad to a curator with Adidas is fascinating and we hope this new exhibition will help inspire others to live their dreams.”