Tuesday Aug 18, 2020
The History of The Three-Stripes
Seventy-one years ago adidas was founded on August 18 by Adolf Dassler, also referred to as Adi, in the small town of Herzogenaurach. Since its launch, adidas has solidified itself as one of the leading global sportswear brands specializing in sports, fashion and street culture. To honor one of the world’s top leading brands, we’re going down memory lane and highlighting the iconic moments throughout each decade in adidas history.
Before starting adidas, Adi and his brother Rudolf created the Dassler Brothers Shoe Factory in 1924. The company manufactured running spikes, which consisted of two stripes across the sides. In the upcoming years, World War II broke out, which brought some constraints to the company. Shortly after the war, a falling out between the two brothers led to what might be one of the most pivotal moments in sneaker and sportswear history. A disagreement, due to the war, led to Adi creating adidas and his brother creating Puma, which shortly became one of the adidas’ business rivals.
In 1949, Adi officially registered the name adidas to start his own shoe company. Little did he know that adidas would go on to be one of the most iconic brands in history to date. The name adidas derives from his first name, Adolf (Adi), plus the beginning of his last name Dassler (Das).
A monumental moment in adidas history that put them on the map was the introduction of the Samba in 1950. The Samba silhouette was initially designed to help European soccer players to train on frozen grounds without slipping. It would, later on, become the go-to turf shoe for indoor soccer players around the world. Often referred to as a German Army Trainer (GAT), this silhouette has since become one of adidas’s most iconic models to date, not only for indoor soccer but also for street style. The Samba set the forefront of many sneaker models to come.
A few years later, in 1952 is when adidas became recognized for its signature three-stripe logo. The world-renowned logo formerly belonged to a Finnish athletic footwear brand called Karhu Sports. After the ‘52 Summer Olympics, the story is told that for two bottles of whiskey and 1,600 euros ($1,900 USD today), the three-stripes officially became adidas, and the rest is history.
Fast-forward to the next decade, the ‘60s became a few of the most iconic years in adidas history. In 1967, adidas released its iconic tracksuit that made its first debut on Franz Beckenbauer. The German-soccer player and the signature adidas tracksuit soon became a staple in the soccer world's everyday warm-up attire. Adidas’s signature tracksuit was also the first apparel piece that the brand created. The adidas tracksuit cemented its place in history, appealing to both athletes and later street culture.
In 1969, the adidas Superstar was first introduced as an on-court sneaker that shortly became one of the most popular lifestyle shoes. At the time, Converse dominated the basketball market with its canvas sneakers and adidas set out to create something even better made with a leather and shell-toe sneaker. The silhouette was released as a low-top version of a basketball shoe. The goal of the leather upper was to help reduce ankle injuries, which were happening too often during basketball games. The silhouette helped adidas get on the map with the endorsement of basketball star, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. As soon as Abdul-Jabbar laced up in his first game with a pair of Superstars, many of his colleagues hopped on the adidas train, adding in a new sneaker brand to basketball culture.
One of the most iconic decades in history itself also became a crucial decade in the history of adidas. In 1972, adidas introduced its new Trefoil logo during the ‘72 Olympics in Munich. The logo initially symbolized performance and has since become one of the most recognizable logos in history. Today, the logo stands for a way of life and has become the company's corporate symbol found on a mix of lifestyle apparel and footwear.
This decade adidas also became known for their signature Stan Smith sneaker. However, the silhouette wasn’t initially named the Stan Smith. The tennis sneaker was originally named after French-tennis player, Robert Haillet. However, once Haillet retired from the tennis world, adidas was on the search for a new active tennis player to be the face of the silhouette. Thus Stan Smith was born.
Smith is known for being one of the greatest tennis players of all time. His partnership with adidas goes down as one of the most successful collaborations in sneaker history and holds a Guinness World Record in 1988, with 22 million pairs sold. The simple silhouette has been a staple in sneaker culture since the ‘70s with its white leather upper and pop of green on the heel tab. After changing the name to Stan Smith, the sneaker took off and has since become one of the most popular sneakers to date. The sneaker fully transitioned over to be the Stan Smith in 1978.
The same year that the Stan Smith name became official, Adi Dassler passed away on September 6, 1878, just before his 78th birthday. Adi’s legacy will always be remembered for redefining the sporting goods industry and creating a new cultural lifestyle. Following his death, his wife Käthe and son, Horst, carried on his legacy by running the company.
The ‘80s were a decade where street culture, music, fashion and art all took off. It became the decade of expression, especially through clothing and music.
In 1982, the adidas Copa Mundial was created for the ‘82 World Cup in Spain and became one of the bestselling soccer cleats. The soccer cleat featured a black leather upper with three white stripes and black studs on the bottom for optimal traction. Although technology has evolved, the Copa Mundial remains a staple for soccer players worldwide today.
Transferring over into the street culture in 1986, hip-hop group RUN D.M.C. released the song “My Adidas,” which birthed a partnership between the iconic hip-hop group and the sportswear brand. This was the start of the shift from sports into the art and street fashion for adidas. It started the movement of non-athletic promotions in the industry and birthed a new idea of product endorsements.
RUN D.M.C. was known for wearing the infamous tracksuit and the iconic Superstar sneakers, which created a buzz for adidas in hip-hop culture. Shortly after, adidas Superstar sales went through the roof, which resulted in a million-dollar endorsement and a whole capsule of RUN D.M.C x adidas line, completed with sponsored adidas x RUN D.M.C. tours. This was one of the first non-athlete sneaker sponsorships in the ‘80s, a significant shift in the industry in the years to come. See below to listen to the song that transformed hip-hop and sneaker culture.
Earlier this year, adidas released a new version of The RUN D.M.C x adidas Superstar in honor of the 50th anniversary of the iconic silhouette. The silhouette includes “SUPERSTAR” written in RUN D.M.C. 's signature styling with red overlays and Trefoil adidas branding.
After an impressive start to the ‘80s, adidas soon faced a major halt to the company. Son of Adi, Horst, had a sudden death, two years after Käthe’s death in 1984. Due to the company being a family run business since the late ‘40s, the company would soon face leadership issues which carried into the new year.
After starting into a rocky decade, adidas first introduced its EQT (equipment) line. Iconic designer of the Air Jordan 1, Peter Moore, was brought on to the adidas team to lead the line and establish essential products that would innovate the brand. The purpose of the line was to meet the athletes’ needs of equipment by offering performance essentials that provided protection and comfort.
One major piece of equipment was the track jacket that was designed for the Boston Marathon. The track jacket featured an iconic teal and white EQT volunteer jacket made for all kinds of running conditions and ultimate performance.
This same year, a new soccer silhouette was introduced called the ‘Predator Cup,’ designed with ridges on the toe box to increase the traction and friction between the cleat, soccer ball and ground. Still making head waves in the soccer industry, adidas solidified itself as the go-to brand for soccer cleats and accessories.
A short-lived but significant win for adidas was the adidas x Kobe Bryant partnership. Bryant got his first sneaker collaboration from adidas called the ‘EQT Elevation’ during his Rookie year in 1996. This was the former 5-time NBA Champion’s first signature sneaker collection and lasted six years. This partnership helped bring a fresh, young face to adidas and bring the adidas name back into the basketball world.
During Kobe’s rookie season, he won the ‘97 All-Star weekend dunk contest wearing the EQT Elevation in signature Laker purple. His first signature shoe came the following year with the release of the KB8, often referred to as the ‘Crazy 8.’ This became Kobe’s most popular adidas model and came out with different colorways in fashionable Los Angeles Lakers colors.
During Kobe’s third year, adidas released his second signature shoe with the KB8 II, which became his first retro model in his classic colorways and new colorway options. The following year, the KB8 III was released. In this fourth year, Kobe finally debuted a new signature model called ‘The Kobe’ in 2000. Kobe wore these in the 2000 championship series, which they would win, defeating the Indiana Pacers 4-2. The Kobe features a futuristic design that was unlike any sneaker before. Many might describe it as one of the most interesting shoes to date; The Kobe sure brought a lot of attention to the creator and the shoe itself. Kobe would go on to wear these the following 2001 season and go on to win his second championship with the Lakers.
Moving on to 2002, the Kobe III released, which shortly after became the last signature model that Kobe and adidas would go on to make. Resulting in an unsuccessful last year, Kobe retired his three-stripes after the ‘01-’02 NBA season. Now known for his signature shoes with competitor Nike, one can’t forget the start of the iconic sneaker history of the legend himself, Kobe Bryant.
Moving into the early 2000s, adidas signed one of the greatest and most well-known soccer players, David Beckham. Already the favored brand in the sport, adidas became known as THE soccer brand with the young English player’s signee. Beckham started out wearing the adidas Copa Mundial before becoming the face of the adidas Predator released a few years prior. Adidas and Beckham continued their ongoing partnership until he retired back in 2013 and have extended their partnership after with the adidas x David Beckham capsule collection released back in 2017 and the “25 Years of Predator Pack” that was released in 2019. Beckham goes down in soccer history as one the G.O.A.T.s and has solidified adidas spot as the go-to brand in soccer culture from this partnership.
Entering into the new decade became a game-changer for adidas. Adidas started collaborating with many top-tier brands, designers and athletes, which overall established adidas as the global brand that it is.
In 2003, adidas partnered with Yohji Yamamoto on the Y-3 line. Y-3 is known for being ahead of its time by combining sports and high-end fashion worlds. Yamamoto has a long history in the fashion industry and has established himself as one of the most respected designers since the launch of his namesake label in 1972. Y-3 brings together avant-garde fashion designs with a classic sports aesthetic seen mostly in a white and black color scheme with exaggerated fits and technical fabrications. The luxury sportswear line gets its name for Yamamoto’s first initial “Y” and “3” represented by the iconic three-strips of adidas.
A few years later, adidas by Stella McCartney launched as a line targeted towards women. McCartney is an English fashion designer who focuses on empowering women and making collections committed to the utmost sustainable and innovative methods and materials. McCartney has become a pioneer in the women’s sports performance category, producing aesthetically pleasing designs with the ultimate performance and women in mind. The next generation of female athletes inspires the line and reimagined classic sports looks with innovative designs. Adidas by Stella McCartney offers a wide range of products and pushes the focus onto women in sports.
Expanding on bringing the adidas name into luxury fashion, adidas launched their “fashion group” tier, which would house partnerships between iconic fashion designers such as Rick Owens, Raf Simons, Alexander Wang and Danielle Cathari. The group was created for the higher tier collaborations with some of the world's most renowned creators.
Fast-forwarding into the next decade and one of the most pivotal decades for adidas, the 2010s.
Adidas created what might be one of the most revolutionary technologies in sneaker history with the launch of the Boost technology in 2013. The Boost technology was unlike any other technology created before. The Boost innovation produces an energy return technology that has since changed the typical running silhouette forever.
Five essential functions set the Boost technology apart from its competitors. The first key benefit is comfort. The cushioning properties of the Boost technology provide the ultimate support made for running. It is also designed for a wide range of atmospheres that can last through snow, rain, wind, etc. This provides the shoe’s third key benefit, which is durability. The Boost technology is made to last to stand of time without any loss of performance. The technology also integrates enough flexibility to help shape wherever you’re going. Lastly, and the most iconic benefit is the energy return. Adidas stated, “The power to absorb and return more of an athlete’s kinetic output is what changed the performance shoe industry forever.” Since the announcement of Boost Technology, the Boost technology has been seen in multiple silhouettes, including the Energy Boost, which was adidas first running shoe with a Boost midsole. The most iconic model released with the technology is the Ultraboost, which became both a staple sneaker in high-performance running and lifestyle invented in 2015.
Another iconic collaboration that took both the fashion and sports industry by storm was the launch of adidas Originals x Pharrell Williams in 2014. The ongoing partnership focuses on extending Pharrell’s vision inspired by the human race, focusing on human rights, empowerment and sharing stories from other cultures to spread awareness. Williams focuses on using his platform to tell other people’s stories and allow others to share their stories.
In the ongoing collaboration, iconic silhouettes include the Pharrell Williams x Superstar, an updated twist on the classic Superstar. The Pharrell Williams x adidas NMD Hu reworked the iconic NMD silhouette that emphasizes humanity through the profile. In 2019, Williams launched the “Now Is Her Time” capsule with adidas emphasizing female empowerment. One of his latest collections focuses on the point of view from a female and uses the platform to amplify these female voices. The capsule features unisex apparel and shoes to stand for women’s rights.
Adidas x Pharrell Williams/Adidas
As mentioned earlier, the adidas Ultraboost has become one of the most iconic silhouettes in the adidas line-up with its crossover design that targets both high-performance and fashion. The Boost technology truly became known for its innovation with the Ultraboost and shortly became one of adidas’ most popular silhouettes. The Ultraboost features a Primeknit upper and a heel-to-toe Boost, providing the ultimate comfort and performance. Available in a wide range of colorways, the Ultraboost is here to stay and goes down as one of the most iconic silhouettes in adidas history.
The Ultraboost also gained traction when a picture of Kanye West went viral, wearing the first edition of the all-white sneaker. Following that picture, demand for Ultraboosts skyrocketed and sneakerheads went crazy trying to get their hands on a pair. However, they were selling out immediately everywhere. This momentum carried over to the launch of Yeezy. This iconic picture helped solidify Kanye’s upcoming partnership with adidas and caused a significant shift in the market, focusing on adidas and Kanye’s next line, YEEZY.
Building off of the success from the Ultraboost, adidas launched the NMD model that same year. The adidas NMD features Boost Technology with a unique and fashion-forward lifestyle design. The first NMD model, adidas NMD_R1 PK ‘OG’ was released in late 2015 and featured an all-black Primeknit upper with a White Boost midsole and red and blue midsole plugs. Since its initial launch, the NMD model has produced multiple different colorways and collaborations, including Pharrell Williams, Star Wars and more.
One of the most notable moments in adidas history is the Yeezy partnership with the one and only Kanye West. After being with Nike in years prior, the Yeezy line switched over to adidas in 2015, with the debut of the Yeezy Boost 750. Later that year, the adidas Yeezy Boost 350 launched in the infamous ‘Turtle Dove’ colorway. The Yeezy silhouettes didn't look like a Nike or Jordan like sneakerheads were so used to. This caused a frenzy in the sneaker world and was a very polarizing shoe. This caused a new shift for sneakerheads to shift more towards a toned-down silhouette and colorways that consisted of subtle, earth tones rather than bright reds, blues, etc. that most sneakerheads were accustomed to.
The Yeezy brand took the Boost technology and transformed the Yeezy silhouette into one of the most iconic models of the current millennium. In just five short years, adidas Yeezy has become one of the most influential sneaker brands to date - which has helped overall solidify adidas as one of the greatest brands in history. Since its first shoe release, the Yeezy brand has released these silhouettes in a handful of different colorways and doesn’t show any signs of slowing down anytime soon.
Yeezy Boost 750/Adidas Yeezy
2015 goes down in adidas history as one of the most transformative years. To kick things into full gear, adidas launched its sustainability movement and partnered with “Parley For The Oceans.” This movement focuses on stopping the plastic abuse in the ocean and addresses significant threats towards the oceans and our planet. The estimated amount of plastic pollution in our oceans is 11 million and is expected to triple by 2040. Adidas x Parley shares the same mission to use 100% recycled polyester in its products by 2024. In doing this, adidas created the “Primeblue” sneaker, a high-performance sneaker made from recycled material with Parley For The Oceans.
For over five years, the ongoing collaboration between adidas and Parley focuses on intercepting plastic waste before it hits the ocean. The message is that “plastic is the problem. Innovation is the solution.” We are excited to see what’s to come in the future with the collaboration and what new sustainable and innovative approaches will be made.
One of the most known partnerships out of the adidas Fashion Group is adidas x Alexander Wang. Alexander Wang is known for his namesake label that launched back in 2004. In 2017, Wang collaborated with adidas on their first capsule with an 84-piece collection. The pieces reinterpreted the iconic adidas logos into a unique and edgy design with Wang’s signature upside-down adidas logo. Since then, adidas x Alexander Wang has released six different seasons, with the latest collection being their FW19 capsule.
One of adidas latest collaborations is with Italian luxury fashion house, Prada. In late 2019, adidas dropped “Prada for adidas” highlighting the technique of craftsmanship, quality materials and iconic detailing. The first limited-edition drop put a luxury twist on the iconic Superstar sneaker and introduced a new Prada Bowling bag. Both pieces were made in Italy by Prada, emphasizing on the high-quality that Prada produces. The collaboration focused on clean, simplicity and timeless lines that pulls inspiration from both brands. There are rumors of a second collection on the horizon, but no set date. We’re excited to see what’s to come for the sportswear and luxury giant.
Prada for Adidas/Adidas
In 2018, adidas also expanded their technology with the creation of the 4D sole. In partnership with California-based firm Carbon, 4D is an innovation that provided the first performance footwear made with light and oxygen. The technology used to create this is called “Carbon Digital Light Synthesis,” which uses light and oxygen to craft a 3D object. The technique can be simplified as being the transition from a liquid to a solid. The technology has already made significant head waves with the industry and has previously collaborated with iconic names like designer, Daniel Arshman. Just recently, adidas released the Ultra4D silhouette, which drew a lot of attention, expanding on the positive hype of the technology. With only a little over two years in the making, we expect to hear more about the 4D technology in different silhouettes.
Adidas has cemented its position as a global athletics brand in all areas of sports and culture. Since their first Olympics debut, to creating the most worn soccer cleat of all time, adidas has made their mark in every sports market to name. Adidas has collaborated with some of the world’s most well-known athletes, from David Beckham to Kareem Abdul-Jabbar as well as being at the forefront of collaborations outside of the sports industry with forming one of the first hip-hop partnerships with RUN D.M.C. Today, adidas still partners with some of the best athletes in the world from Portland Trail Blazers’ Damian Lillard, Houston Rockets’ James Harden and Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes.
After 71 years in the making, adidas isn’t showing signs of slowing down anytime soon. Since its inception in 1949, the brand has grown to be one of the most iconic global brands worldwide within all different cultures and subcultures. After creating what might be the best technology in sneaker history with the Boost, adidas is still catching their momentum and we are excited to see what’s to come with the international brand.
We want to say thank you adidas for 71 years of fantastic history. We are excited to see what’s in store for the future!