HQHerzogenaurach, Germany
FounderAdolf “Adi” Dassler

One of the world’s most iconic sportswear brands, adidas is a German sportswear manufacturer founded by Adolf Dassler in 1949. The brand’s name is a combination of Adolf’s nickname, “Adi”, and the surname Dassler. Though the adidas brand was first registered in 1949, its history actually traces back to 1924, when Adi and his older brother Rudolf started the company Gebrüder Dassler Schuhfabrik (Dassler Brothers Shoe Factory). The two manufactured sports product together until the outbreak of World War Two, when the war effort meant their factory was requisitioned for military manufacturing. Political differences and controversies during the war caused a rift between Rudolf and Adolf, and at the end of the war they went their separate ways. Rudolf would go on to form his own sportswear brand, RuDa (later rebranded as Puma), and Adi would create adidas. As a mark of difference from the former company’s 2-stripe mark, Adi added a third stripe, creating the now iconic adidas 3-stripes. Toward the end of the 1970s, the advent of greater technological advances in footwear manufacturing, and the growth of sports as a recreational activity and style statement heralded in a new age for adidas. It was during this period that adidas introduced its famous “trefoil” logo, championing the diversity of the brand beyond sportswear. In the mid-1980s, adidas unwittingly became a hip-hop sensation when the group Run-DMC released their hit single, “My Adidas”. Already known fans of adidas’ Superstar basketball sneaker, Run-DMC’s single was intended to flip negative perceptions of the shoe, and turned the Superstar into a must have-shoe for street aficionados. As a basketball model, the shoe rarely made its way across to stores in Europe and the UK, where the sport was relatively unpopular. As a result, lots of people would fly across to the States and buy up stocks of the shoes, taking them back across the pond and selling them for huge markups. Subcultural impact has, in fact, been a large element of adidas’ history. In Europe in the ’80s, the brand’s shoes became an integral part of style amongst “terrace casual” football fans in the UK and further abroad, and its legacy in high fashion is also considerable, working with famous designers such as Raf Simons, Rick Owens, Stella McCartney, Gosha Rubchinskiy and Alexander Wang. Over the past four decades, the adidas brand has created some of the most iconic sportswear designs ever. In footwear, this includes models such as the Stan Smith, Campus, Gazelle and ClimaCool, as well as extensive series such as EQT, ZX, Tubular and NMD. In apparel, items such as the Firebird Track Top and classic 3-stripe sweatsuits continue to carry prestige as must-have items among collectors and casual wearers alike.