The Story of Adidas | The Board Basement
WHY IS THE BRAND CALLED ADIDAS?
Adidas was born out of family partnership which soon became a fierce rivalry, in a legendary piece of pop-culture folklore. In 1924, Brothers Adolf "Adi" Dassler and Rudi Dassler began a home-grown dream to create world-class footwear for professional athletes, from the small town of Herzogenaurach, in Germany. The company initially found it’s market producing spiked running shoes (spikes), innovating heavy metal spike designs to incorporate rubber and canvas to improve comfort and reduce weight. The company received a significant boost in international recognition in 1936, when U.S sprinter Jesse Owens won four gold medals at the Berlin Summer Olympics wearing handcrafted spikes"Adidas" . In the lucrative 4 years prior to the start of World War II, the Dassler brothers were shifting 200,000 pairs of shoes every year. It was a flying start that would soon be hampered by both international crisis and family feud.
As the Dassler brothers’ business gained momentum, their mother’s laundry room was soon outgrown, replaced by the Gebrüder Dassler Schuhfabrik (Dassler Brothers Shoe Factory), in which the enterprising brothers began to grow the Adidas brand. Requisitioned by the German war effort in 1939, when American forces began destroying surviving factories of Nazi Germany in 1945, the Adidas factory was saved only by the persuasion of Adi’s wife, who assured the GIs that the company’s only future output would be sports shoes. These same GIs became important customers for the Adidas brand, making up a significant portion of their target audience in these formative post-war years.
The war wasn’t kind on the brother’s relationship, which had been growing increasingly fraught. Rudi was then captured by American soldiers, suspecting him of being part of the German SS. Taking this as confirmation that their rift had finally hit breaking point, Rudi automatically labelled his brother "Adi" as the informant. The resulting business split in 1947 prompted the creation of two, now world-renowned sports brands, Adidas (formed by Adi), and Puma (formed by Rudi).
WHERE DO THE ICONIC 3 STRIPES COME FROM?
Fast forward 70 years, and Adidas has now become a globally recognisable brand, employing an iconic logo which stemmed from functionality rather than flair. The original running spikes created way back in the simpler days of 1924, employed a structural binding which drew two stripes through the shoe’s side panel. This was purely instrumental to the shape and fit of the piece, but also provided a recognisable pattern, useful for displaying at competitions to promote the company’s products. When Adidas became a singular company in 1947, Adi simply added (no pun intended) a third stripe, to differentiate his new footwear brand.
Adidas progressed at a steady rate throughout the 1950s and 60s, which also witnessed the inception of other skate and sports shoe brands such as Vans and Nike. However, it was in the 1970s when sportswear really took off as a culturally recognised phenomenon, above and beyond its functional roots. Rather than simply providing high-quality sports goods, Adidas began to expand its footwear and clothes branding, creating the famous trefoil logo, segmented by the classic 3 stripes. The 3 stripe remains the key logo today, whilst the trefoil is reserved for the Originals range, emblematic of heritage models from Adidas’ earlier eras.
The rivalry between the two Dassler brothers once again resurfaced in the 70s, when they fought for a manufacturing contract to produce training shoes for the German military. Adidas won out over Puma, simultaneously pioneering a modern sneaker silhouette. The rivalry has thus continuously imbued the Adidas brand with a fierce sense of competition, striving for progression and innovation. The 1980s brought tech and futurism to Adidas, in 1984 becoming the first global footwear company to place a micro sensor inside their model, the Micropacer. Adidas was also way ahead of its time in personal customisation, with the Adicolour H released in 1985, containing 8 coloured markers, with which the customer could decorate their trainers.
The Adidas skateboard project was launched in 1989, as the now well-established sportswear brand pushed themselves into unfamiliar territory. The 1990s saw the rise of the underground skateboarding scene, through which street sports would become ingrained in both the design of trainers and the subculture which surrounds them. Adidas brought it’s sporting heritage, whilst employing those who could bring the skateboarding heritage they needed. Skateboarding can be a notoriously difficult world to break into, particularly for a sportswear brand, exemplified by the struggles of Nike in the early 2000s. Adidas made the smart move of choosing Skin Phillips as team manager, bringing a rich legacy of skateboarding and skate photography to the brand. This was reinforced by the development of Adidas’ skateboarding team, which grew to include skateboarding greats like Dennis Busenitz, Mark Suciu and Lucas Puig.
Adidas represents perhaps the true fusion of sports trainer and skate shoe. Models with particular nods to both sides of this heritage include the Busenitz Pro, which incorporates the Samba’s football style tongue, but pairs it with innovative skate shoe technology. Taking the Copa Mundial football design which premiered back in 1979, Dennis Busenitz and the Adidas action sports department built in a cup sole, super durable body and GEOFIT collar to craft a skate shoe with a sporting pedigree yet ultra reinforced for skateboarding.
Ultra durability, modern technology and vintage style come together again in the Adidas Matchcourt skate shoe. As the name might suggest, the Matchcourt is a reimagining of a classic 70s basketball shoe, with Adidas realising that the rubber toe cap was already a desirable feature amongst skateboarders. The Matchcourt is built up around this super durable outer element, with a moulded PU sock liner creating ultimate comfort. Impact is dampened by a vulcanised sole, which increases durability without compromising on precise board feel.
As much as future thinking skate shoe tech is now a stable of the Adidas brand, with the Adidas skate team now dominating the world scene with both exceptional skateboarding and endless creativity, they haven’t forgotten their sports and lifestyle roots. Blending skate and sport has brought action and lifestyle together, with the added benefit that if you’re not using Adidas skate shoes for skateboarding, you can guarantee their unmatched durability and thus longevity. Styles such as the Campus Vulc ADV and Kiel have been developed from their 70s original and whilst they offer incredible skateboarding material, they’re also a comfortable option for everyday wear, particularly if you like a bit of skate or street style.
Adidas are dominating the skate scene across the world, with epic sagas such as Away Days released as their first feature film in 2016. In 2018, Adidas skateboarding has launched 3ST, a platform of open-source collaboration between skateboarders and designers, with the motto “innovation without limitation”. Their most recent team signing, Diego NaJera exemplifies this attitude in his new part, “Adelante”. This part demonstrates Adidas’ commitment to skateboarding diversity, with riders wearing original pieces like Stan Smiths, alongside ultra-modern designs like the 3ST.002 PRIMEKNIT. Adidas skateboarding, and the Adidas brand in general represents a fusion of both heritage and innovation, as space-age designs co-exist peacefully alongside classic sporting models. Adidas pride themselves on this equilibrium, contributing to their dominant position at the forefront of sport, skateboarding and popular culture. Get yourself kitted out and join the global Adidas family.
At The Board Basement, we stock a range of Adidas footwear. If you have any questions about Adidas, give us a call or email and we will happily help you out.