Today, the culture surrounding sneaker collecting is at an all-time high. There’s global attention on footwear, and the industry itself is worth billions and billions of dollars. One company leading this massive push forward is Adidas, a favorite among shoe collectors both casual and rabid.
Adidas has come a long way to get where they are today. The 70-year-old company is indisputably a key part of modern shoe history, with key collaborations, innovations, and releases shaping the path of the industry.
How did it all start and how did we get here? Adidas has a long and storied history that is worth diving into. Read on and we’ll walk you through what you should know about the early days of Adidas.
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Early History of Adidas
The origins of Adidas as a brand trace back to turn-of-the-century Germany. The year is 1920, and a twenty-year-old soccer player named Adi Dassler creates spiked shoes to better play in when out on the field.
These spiked shoes prove to be quite the invention, and within a few years, Adi and his brother Rudi found a company to produce and distribute this new kind of shoe. The company upon inception is known as Gerbuder Dassler OHG – though in coming years, it will come to be called Adidas.
Over the next few years, the brothers pump out new shoes with nailed studs and a series of track shoes as well. These shoes quickly begin to build up a reputation in Germany and eventually around the world. In the 1928 Olympics, held in Amsterdam, track runner Jesse Owens wears a pair of the brother’s shoes when he wins four different gold medals.
More athletes begin to pick up the shoes and the international appeal of the footwear really takes off. The company is a huge success. Adi Dassler becomes seen, rightfully, as one of the founders of the modern sporting goods industry and is eventually honored and inducted into the Hall of Fame.
Rudi goes on to create Puma, the rival shoe company.
Beginnings of the Modern Adidas
Following the dissolution of the brothers’ alliance, Adi decided to take the company in a different direction. He took his shares of the company in the post-war environment and re-registered as Adolf Dassler Sportshuuhfabrik. This was, of course, shortened to Adidas in due time.
Adidas is a shortened version of Adi Dassler’s name: AdiDas.
Adi had a challenge ahead of him. The sports sneaker was now a world popular product, and there was a lot of competition that he was up against, including from his own brother and former business partner. In order to make his shoes stand out of the crowd, he’d need to come up with a brand-specific design.
Thus, the now-famed Adidas logo was born. The three stripes sewn onto the side became the trademark look of the Adidas shoe and it was soon used as the official calling card of the company as a whole.
Adi’s wife joined the company and took over what used to be Rudi’s role, and together, they led the Adidas brand through a second period of great growth and innovation.
Their first new big success was designing the football boot, or as we know it today, the modern soccer cleat. When these shoes helped the Germans win the World Cup, it helped make the rebranded Adidas a global name once again.
Expansion of the Adidas Brand
The years went by and Adidas enjoyed a great amount of success. The brand became a household name and it was known the world over. The brand was successful enough that as the 1960s drew to a close, Adi and his wife decided to expand the offerings of their company.
They moved into apparel in 1967, offering a wealth of other sports good options. Tracksuits with the branding were among the most popular product, with the average consumer picking up the three-striped outfit to feel more like their favorite athletes.
Adidas started to produce soccer balls, water bottles, and a whole wealth of other sports adjacent products. Adidas continued this growth up to and past the death of its original founder. Adi Dassler passed away in 1978, with the company at the height of its success.
The company was run for some years by his wife and then son, but both passed within a decade of his own death. The company then saw a shift to the public stock exchange, and a board of directors took over.
The post-Adi Adidas had a series of ups and downs through the 80s, 90s, and 2000s. Poor management choices impacted the strength of the brand at times, and other shoe companies like Nike stepped in and took over much of the world’s attention.
That being said, the popularization of sneaker culture in the mid-1980s helped to expand the audience and demand for the kind of product that Adidas was offering. They pumped out a great number of incredible products, including the famed Adidas originals country OG, among others.
Today, Adidas remains one of the major and much-loved shoe manufacturers in the world. Their dominance doesn’t seem like it will disappear anytime soon They’ll stick around as long as people still love to buy shoes.
Understanding Adidas Shoe History
Adidas is one of the biggest brands in shoe history, and they have a fascinating story. The above information is just a brief summary of their rise to prominence, and a true cornerstone of sneaker history.
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