The Rise of adidas

30 Apr 2019

Formerly Gebrüder Dassler Schuhfabrik (Dassler Brothers’ Shoe Factory), adidas was founded in 1949 after an irreparable post-war rift formed between brothers Adolf and Rudolf Dassler which forced the former company to split. Where Rudolf went on to form Ruda, which was later rebranded as Puma, Adolf created adidas, and the two brothers were said to have never spoken again following this.

Sibling rivalry

Contrary to some sources, adidas was not created as an acronym for “All Day I Dream About Sport”. The brand name adidas, stylised without a capital letter, comes from founder Adolf Dassler’s own name — a portmanteau of his shortened first name “Adi”, and the first half of his surname, “Das”. Originally, Adolf had submitted his company under the name Addas, but this was rejected on the grounds that a children’s shoe company was already named this.

Both adidas and Puma were founded in the small German town of Herzogenaurach, and the brothers’ bitter feud was felt by the entire town. The original Gebrüder Dassler Schuhfabrik was beside the town’s river, where the brothers worked together. After the feud, Rudolf moved to the other side of the river to set up his own factory.

The story goes that people in the town would check each other’s shoes before starting a conversation, to see which side of the feud they supported. In some ways, it was a form of brand loyalty, especially when no one really knew for sure why the brothers fell out in the first place. Some sources cite Rudolf’s belief that Adolf had turned him in to American soldiers to be accused of being a member of the SS — both brothers were indeed members of the Nazi party during World War II.

Of course, people weren’t above having a little jest at the brothers’ behalf. According to Frank Dassler, grandson of Rudolf Dassler, workmen would deliberately wear adidas shoes if they were called to work on the Puma founder’s home. Upon seeing the shoes, Rudolf would tell the workers to go and pick out a pair of free Puma shoes from his basement!

Iconic adidas launches

Perhaps fuelled by this rivalry, adidas have gone on to create some of the most timeless looks and pioneering sports footwear technology.

  • adidas Superstar (1969) — it really doesn’t get much more iconic than the contrasting three-stripes on these adidas trainers. Starting out in basketball courts, these timeless sneakers eventually cropped up everywhere from the skate park to hip-hop stages. The Superstar shoes were later part of a merchandising deal with Run-D.M.C., the first deal of its kind.
  • adidas Stan Smith (1971) — named after the tennis legend himself, Stan Smith trainers have become a firm favourite with sneaker fans. The minimalist style, along with the iconic heel contrast tab, have found their way off the court and into many wardrobes.
  • Copa Mundial (1979) — designed for the 1982 World Cup, these football boots really set the standard for modern football boots. These boots were crafted with speed and durability in mind, while maintaining adidas’ characteristic lightweight footwear approach.
  • adidas Ultraboost (2015) — with its soft cushioning and moulded heel counter, Ultraboosts have become a fast favourite since their 2015 release. There’s even been a recent Game of Thrones inspired release, securing this style’s place in the iconic footwear category!
  • The Yeezy Boost 350 (2015) — another ‘boost’ to the adidas range, this collaboration with Kayne West continues to see releases of new ‘Colorways’ and versions to excite sneakerheads the world over.
  • COPA70 (2019) — adidas’ 70th anniversary shoe, this new version of the historic Copa Mundial shows just how far the brand has come. The football boot version is highly limited in number, though a sneaker version of the shoe is also available.

No doubt adidas will continue to climb up through the world of sports footwear and innovate the game over and over for years to come. A company that has truly been built from the ground up — could your own business be the next supergiant of its field, like adidas has become?

Sources

https://www.dw.com/en/the-town-that-sibling-rivalry-built-and-divided/a-2074427

https://www.esquire.com/uk/style/shoes/a10019/the-most-iconic-trainers-of-all-time/

https://www.lyst.co.uk/articles/the-5-pairs-of-iconic-adidas-sneakers-every-man-should-own/

https://www.soccerbible.com/performance/football-boots/2019/01/adidas-launch-the-copa70-to-celebrate-70th-anniversary/

https://www.footy-boots.com/football-boots-history/

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