Adolf and brother Rudolf make their first shoe.
The brothers found Gebrüder Dassler Schuhfabrik (“Dassler Brothers Shoe Factory”).
The Dasslers develop shoes with studs and spikes for football and athletics.
Dassler shoes are worn at the Olympics for the first time, with German 800 meter runner Lina Radke-Batschauer becoming the first athlete to win gold in Dassler shoes.
The company releases the first shoe marketed specifically for tennis.
The Dassler brothers join the Nazi Party on May 1, three months after Adolf Hitler comes to power in Germany.
Black US athlete Jesse Owens makes history at the Berlin Olympics, winning four gold medals in Dassler atheltic shoes and embarrassing a watching Hitler.
Recriminations relating to post-WW2 investigations into Adolf and Rudolf’s Nazi-era activities lead to a permanent rupture in the brothers’ relationship.
Adolf starts up shoe production again with 47 workers, registering the name Adi Dassler adidas Sportsschuhfabrik on August 18.
adidas releases the Samba football shoe.
adidas buys the three-stripe trademark from Finnish brand Karhu, reportedly for two bottles of whisky and the equivalent of $1,800. Previous Dassler shoes had featured two, three, and four support stripes. Jesse Owens wore two-striped Dassler shoes at the 1936 Olympics.
West Germany’s national football team wins its first World Cup against heavy favorites Hungary in Bern, Switzerland, thanks in part to new adidas football cleats with screw-in studs, which give the Germans an advantage in the heavy rain. adidas and PUMA later dispute which company invented screw-in studs.
The brand releases a leather tennis shoe named after French player Robert Haillet. After Haillet’s retirement in 1971, the Haillet shoe is endorsed by US player Stan Smith and renamed. Throughout the ’70s, models carry a mixture of Haillet and Smith branding, before references to Haillet are finally removed in 1978. The Stan Smith goes on to become adidas’ biggest-selling sneaker, setting a Guinness World Record in 1988 with 22 million pairs sold.
The brand releases its first apparel, a tracksuit named after German football star Franz Beckenbauer with three stripes down the sides of the arms and legs.
The sportswear brand releases the Gazelle sneaker.
adidas releases its first basketball shoe, the Superstar, worn by Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.
The Telstar football is used at the World Cup in Mexico. Every World Cup since has been played with an adidas ball.
adidas introduces its Trefoil logo. Heavyweight boxing champions Muhammad Ali and Joe Frazier wear adidas boots in the “Fight of the Century” at Madison Square Garden, New York City.
adidas releases the SL 72 training shoe for the Olympics in Munich, West Germany.
Adolf Dassler dies on September 6, aged 77.
adidas releases the Copa Mundial football boot and the Spezial sneaker.
adidas releases the Campus sneaker.
adidas launches its ZX series of running shoes, starting with the ZX 500.
Run-DMC release single “My Adidas.” Fans hold up their adidas shoes as the trio perform the song at Madison Square Garden. The hip-hoppers had been rocking the brand since their 1984 self-titled debut album.
adidas introduces its Torsion arch support tech.
adidas Equipment (later EQT) is launched. Its “three bars” logo is designed by Peter Moore, designer of the Nike Air Jordan 1.
adidas launches the Predator football boot. Designed by former pro Craig Johnston, who came up with the idea by sticking the rubber from a table tennis bat to a football boot, the Predator’s vulcanized rubber on the upper was said to improve players’ shooting power.
adidas signs basketball prodigy Kobe Bryant, releasing his first signature shoe, the KB8 (aka Crazy 8), in 1997. Signing the NBA’s best player goes some way to rectifying the brand’s mistake of missing out on Michael Jordan in 1984. 1997 — adidas acquires French outdoor sports brand Salomon.
adidas Originals is launched, with the first Originals store opening in Berlin, Germany. Adopting the classic Trefoil logo, the division focuses on lifestyle and heritage products, becoming home to most of the brand’s collaborations.
adidas turns its 2002 partnership with Japanese designer Yohji Yamamoto into the Y-3 sub-brand. It also collaborates with Tokyo streetwear label A Bathing Ape for the first time, releasing the Super Ape Star and Super Ape Skate.
adidas partners with rapper Missy Elliott on the Respect ME line and fashion designer Stella McCartney on the adidas by Stella McCartney line.
adidas sells Salomon to Amer Sports.
adidas signs teenage football prodigy Lionel Messi of Barcelona and Argentina. He goes on to become arguably the greatest player of all time and signs a lifetime deal with the brand in 2017. Elsewhere, the company buys British sportswear brand Reebok and signs an 11-year contract to become the NBA’s official uniform and apparel provider.
adidas and Def Jam Recordings release a collection to celebrate the record label’s 25th anniversary.
adidas works with Pusha-T for the first time, with the rapper signing a new deal with the brand early in 2019.
adidas poaches Kanye West from Nike, with his first adidas YEEZY sneaker, the Boost 750, dropping in 2015. The brand also debuts collaborations with fashion designers Raf Simons and Rick Owens.
adidas adds Pharrell Williams to its stable of musical collaborators, releasing a collection of Stan Smiths and Superstar track jackets toward the end of the year. The brand also collaborates with UK skateboard label Palace for the first time. By 2018, Angelique Kerber would win venerated tennis tournament Wimbledon in Palace x adidas gear.
adidas partners with fashion designer Alexander Wang.
Adolf “Adi” Dassler
$24.9 billion (2018)
The Brand With the Three Stripes only officially earned its stripes in 1951, when it bought the three-stripe trademark from Finnish brand Karhu for today’s equivalent of $1,800 and two bottles of whisky (at least that’s how the story is retold today). In 1971, adidas updated its branding with the leaf-like Trefoil logo ahead of the Munich Olympic Games. It became a classic piece of branding, seen on tracksuits and classic sneaker models. In 1991, the adidas Equipment (later EQT) performance line introduced the tilted “three bars” logo designed by Nike Air Jordan 1 creator Peter Moore. Learn more about these and rest of adidas’ logos.
Some of adidas’ most important collaborations have often been with figures from the world of hip-hop. The label puts out Kanye West’s YEEZY-branded sneakers and has worked with Pharrell Williams, Pusha-T, and Missy Elliott. adidas’ importance in hip-hop dates back to the mid ’80s and Run-DMC’s love of the brand’s tracksuits and shell-toe Superstar sneakers, culminating in 1986 single “My Adidas.” The sportswear giant has also had a number of key collaborations with streetwear brands, such as A Bathing Ape and Palace Skateboards, and high fashion designers, including Yohji Yamamoto’s Y-3 line, Raf Simons, Rick Owens, Stella McCartney, and Alexander Wang.
adidas Originals is a sub-division of adidas dedicated to lifestyle, fashion, and heritage products. It is home to many of the brands collaborations with fashion designers, celebrities, and cultural figures. For example, YEEZY is officially labeled adidas Originals YEEZY, Pharrell’s collaborations come under the banner adidas Originals by Pharrell Williams (sometimes stylized adidas Originals = Pharrell Williams), Alexander Wang’s products are adidas Originals by Alexander Wang, and so on. adidas Originals is represented by the old-school Trefoil logo, which was replaced as the symbol of the brand’s performance sportswear products by the “three bars” logo introduced with 1991’s Equipment (EQT) line. The first adidas Originals store opened in Berlin, Germany in 2001.
adidas runs 2,500 of its own stores and there are a further 13,000 mono-branded franchise stores around the world. Stores can be found across Europe, the Americas, Africa, Asia, and Oceania. To find your nearest adidas store, you can use adidas’ store locator. The company has different types of stores: adidas Performance for athletic and sportswear, adidas Originals for fashion and lifestyle, adidas NEO targeted at younger consumers, and adidas factory outlets. In 2018, adidas CEO Kasper Rorsted told the Financial Times that the brand will be reducing its number of brick-and-mortar locations as it pivots more toward online retail.