Adidas is one of the world’s largest sports shoe and clothing manufacturers, but this is only the official definition because the brand is so much more than just sneakers or tracksuits.
Adidas is a fashion, pop culture, and sports legend, a street style inspiration, and a leader in sports technology that enables everyone to be their true and best selves.
So today, let’s take a closer look at this sports and fashion giant and its almost hundred years of history.
A Family Affair
When German brothers Adolf and Rudolf Dassler returned home after World War I, they decided to open a shoe factory in their hometown of Herzogenaurach in Bavaria.
And so in 1924 Gebrüder Dassler Schuhfabrik was founded. At first, men made shoes in the basement of their house, and since the small town had no electricity then, they powered all the production devices by using a stationary bicycle.
This is probably one of the best examples of how dedicated the brothers were to their work.
In 1936, professional athletes noticed the shoes Adolf and Rudolf were making and started wearing them to official competitions. The American runner Jesse Owens even won four gold medals at the Berlin Olympics wearing these sneakers.
It was great publicity because the shoes were soon sought after by the world’s best athletes and national teams.
Before World War II, the company was selling approximately 200,000 pairs of shoes a year.
During World War II, the Dassler factory had to reorganize and started producing anti-tank weapons for Germany, so at the war’s end the Allies wanted to destroy it.
However, Adolf’s wife Kathe managed to convince the Americans not to, promising that their only purpose was to make shoes. Soon the soldiers themselves became loyal customers!
Unfortunately, not everything went smoothly, and disagreements between the brothers didn’t take long to split the business. Thus, Rudolf founded Puma, and Adolf founded adidas (the name is a combination of his first name Adi and the surname Dassler).
A New Start
Adolf became obsessed with creating the best sneakers in the world. He enlisted the help of the West German football team, which helped him understand exactly what athletes needed.
To stand out from the competition and to provide stability, Adolf decorated the first adidas shoes with three stripes – the same ones we see today.
The first exclusive and highly innovative adidas shoes were introduced in the fifties. Adolf sought to promote them as best he could and traveled the world, presenting the shoes to stars such as Muhammad Ali and Franz Beckenbauer.
Perseverance and work paid off because in 1954, wearing adidas shoes, the German national team won a soccer match against Hungary at the World Cup, took home the gold medal, and made the sneakers famous.
As the company grew, Adi and his wife Kathe decided it was time to expand and start producing not only sneakers but also clothing. Adidas released its first tracksuit in 1967 and decorated it with the same three stripes.
The tracksuit was light, breathable, and very comfortable. Professional athletes and amateurs loved the style too, so the new invention quickly became something of a runner’s uniform, especially in the United States, where jogging was very popular.
The 1972 Munich Olympics were significant for adidas, not only because the company was dressing the German team but also because it introduced its new Trefoil logo.
The clover logo symbolizes the Olympic Games’ spirit and the three continents’ union.
Unfortunately, six years after these games, Adi Dassler died. His wife Kathe and son Horst took over the management of the company.
A Timeless Classic
Before continuing with the story of adidas, we must take a break and talk about the adidas Superstar. Why? Because when asked to name the most famous adidas shoes, most people would probably mention them.
The first version of these cult sneakers was introduced back in 1969 and was designed for basketball players. It might be strange to hear that because today, this model is mainly associated with skateboarding and street fashion.
The hard toe of the sneaker “Shell Toe” is now seen as a distinctive design detail, but originally its function was to protect athletes’ toes.
It was not long before adidas Superstar became the sneaker that not only NBA players but also music and film stars and their fans simply had to have.
The company also owes a big deal to hip-hop and street dancers for adding to the sneaker’s popularity. The biggest “thank you” note should go to the 80s rapper Run D.M.C who wore these sneakers everywhere and later even wrote the song “My adidas”.
Pop Culture Darlings
The 80s were a turning point for adidas shoes and apparel as they slowly became an integral part of pop culture. Adidas men and adidas women were flying off the shelves! If you didn’t own these sneakers, did you know anything about fashion at all?
Unfortunately, the era of the company’s founding family was coming to an end, as first Kathe died, and then, in 1987, her 51-year-old son Horst Dassler unexpectedly did too.
A non-family member started running adidas for the first time in 1989, and the company became adidas AG Stock Corporation. Robert Louis Dreyfus took over the company’s helm and sought to further consolidate the brand’s popularity by attracting more athletes and pop culture stars to become its ambassadors.
Many new products were introduced during this period, and adidas expanded its lines to golf and winter sports. In 1996 the new logo, “Badge of Sport,” was introduced.
The New Millennium
At the beginning of the 2000s, adidas kept growing and continuously improving its technology.
In 2006 the company acquired another well-known sportswear and footwear brand, Reebok, and in 2014 signed a ten-year contract with the English football team Manchester United.
Adidas also began collaborating with stars such as Pharrell Williams, Rita Ora, Stella McCartney, and, of course, Beyonce and her ultra-famous brand Ivy Park.
Undoubtedly, adidas is a cult brand beloved by young and old!
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