It’s hard to overstate the importance of the adidas Superstar to streetwear culture and, obviously by extension, hip hop. As Angelo Anastasio, adidas’ marketing director between 1984 and 1991 claims in the “Just for Kicks” sneakers doc, in the early ’80s, “the Superstar was dead. But Run DMC singlehandedly brought that shoe back”.
When the group burst onto American airwaves and started making it big in 1982, they did it as the first black hip hop group to dress in the same way as they dressed on the streets of their native Hollis, in Queens. Run DMC supplied a look that seemed to fit hip hop’s sounds more than anything that’d come before, with Godfather and bucket hats, leather jackets and black jeans worn with white adidas Superstars, with the “shell toes” worn sans laces. Why no laces? Cos this was the look forced upon people in jail, and worn as a style statement by those outside of it.
It’s hard to imagine now, but that look, and that deliberate reference made by Jam Master Jay, D.M.C. and Rev. Run to people serving time, caused a small storm across the US, not least within certain parts of the black community as well. It resulted in Dr. Gerald Deas, an older man, also of Hollis, to pen the anti-sneaker “positive” rap track “Felon Sneakers” in 1985, with two others under the name Creative Funk. Run DMC responded in style, releasing their famous love song to the sneaker, “My Adidas“, in 1986. Not long after, adidas and Run DMC signed the first deal between a hip hop artists and a major corporation, with a Run DMC-endorsed line of adidas wear following not after.
For more on the adidas Superstar’s history, as well as where you can buy it, click here.
- Photography: Finish Line