by Manik Kundra

A Brief History of Adidas

It's hard to fathom how the largest brands in the world came into b...
A Brief History of Adidas

It's hard to fathom how the largest brands in the world came into being. From a humble idea formed in a kitchen to a multi-dimensional, multi-million dollar enterprise operating throughout the world. 

The road to success involves perseverance, trial and error, and constant learning and figuring out what works, as well as what doesn't. A lesson that we can learn from brands such as Adidas, which have already learned the value of strategic marketing is that any brand can become valuable if it is treated as such.

How Did the Brand Start? 

The Adidas Group was founded by Adi Dassler in 1920. A passionate athlete, the 20-year-old German dedicated his life to creating the best equipment possible for athletes worldwide. 

After going to school and completing a short apprenticeship, he decided that baking would not be a career for him. Having served in the army during World War I, he returned to his family home at the end of the war and learned the skills of a shoemaker.

Using the few materials that were available to him post-WWI, he made shoes in the washroom of his mom's house. Adi made lightweight cleats with canvas and studs.

Although Adi had experience in sports, he was never overconfident in his knowledge about providing high-quality and well-made equipment to his customers. 

He would regularly observe and discuss with professional athletes what kinds of problems they might be experiencing with their shoes by paying regular visits to their facilities. Using his expertise, he would create a product that would meet their needs. 

The success of Adidas was built partly on the motivation of Adi to make athletes' lives better by creating products that were solely focused on improving their lives.

How Did They Become Adidas? 

In 1928, Adidas, which was 8 years old at the time of its founding, became the first sports brand to provide track shoes for an Olympic athlete. Jesse Owen, who won an Olympic gold medal in 1936, wore spikes manufactured by the company. 

Having now expanded its product lineup to over 30 styles of shoes servicing over 11 different sports, the brand now has over 11 different sports represented in its market.

In 1949, Adidas underwent a rebranding when Adi Dassler wanted Adidas to be more than just an athletic apparel company. In the same year, Adidas introduced the famous three-striped shoe that is synonymous with the brand today.

Their Progress over the Years

The 1950's

In the 1950s, when the 3-Stripes were adopted, the technology boom was accompanied by innovations in athletes' equipment. Adidas's first decade produced the Samba, still used today on indoor soccer fields for agility and speed, and the streets for style.  

Also during this decade, numerous innovations, such as the Allround basketball and training shoe, formed the foundations for later developments. These years revolutionized what athletes wore, but Adidas still had a long way to go.

The 1960's

During the 1960s, barriers were broken across many sports, from Kathrine Switzer running the first women's marathon at Boston's marathon to producing the Fosbury Flop, which forever changed the way athletes approached the high jump. 

Athletes during this decade were able to push the limits of their sport using the best equipment at the time. During the Mexico Olympic Games, Adidas developed the Azteca Gold sprint spike to give competitors an advantage. 

Adidas also introduced the iconic tracksuit in the '60s, reworking the Samba training shoe into a cult classic, and introducing the iconic tracksuit.

The 1970's

There were many notable sporting events and iconic music of the 1970s. As the era of the Telstar, the first official World Cup soccer ball, and the Adidas Superstar, the cult favorite of the 1970s, the ‘70s were a major influence on today's style. 

It is during this decade that streetwear staples are established, such as the iconic Adilette slide, and the Stan Smith white tennis shoes. Sustainable and innovative designs have always been at the forefront of these styles. 

The 1980's

There was a lot of innovation in the 1980s. Technology progressed along with the impact of sports and music on culture. With Adidas, athletes of all kinds can now wear advanced running shoes. 

Running shoes with screens on the tongue were called Micropacers, and they tracked distance, average speed, and calories burned. Adidas Copa Mundial was introduced in 1983 and was the best selling soccer cleat for years to come. 

The 1990's

Despite being a decade of recognizable fashions, the 1990s saw technological advancements coming closer to reality. 

EQT Volunteer Jackets were designed by Adidas for the Boston Marathon. Track jackets such as this one marked the beginning of Adidas' 3-Stripes EQT logo. The Badge of Sport would later evolve from this look. 

During this period, track jackets with color blocking and colorful patterns retain their popularity. It wasn't until 1994 that a new player entered the soccer field. 

The 2000's

By the 2000s, what had already been working had been further developed. Afterward, Beckham's Predator Precision SG shoe and Haile Gebrselassie's Adizero Adios Neftenga, the shoe in which he broke the world record for the marathon, followed. 

This classic running shoe became a cultural icon in the 2000s and has gained resurgence in chunky shoes today. With Ian Thorpe's racing suit, Adidas made its entry into performance swimwear. 

The suit reduced drag in the water. Y-3 was born during this decade as well as a line of high-fashion sportswear that is carried on today by Stella McCartney.

The 2010s

New releases over the past decade have focused on sustainable practices. In collaboration with Parley, an organization dedicated to ocean conservation, Adidas developed shoes and clothing made from recycled ocean plastic. 

Reusing plastic and debris that already pollutes the Earth launched a movement to end the wasteful fashion loop. As sustainability became increasingly aware, technological innovations increased as well. It was during this timeframe that Boost, an energy-returning midsole, was developed. 

As an evolution in cushioning, the Futurecraft 4D's midsole is created by sculpting liquid using light and oxygen. Kanye West's YEEZY line and Stella McCartney's high-performance sportswear marked this decade as well. 

Present Day

A huge party was held on the company's Bavarian campus to celebrate its 70th anniversary. In the same year, it also began collaborating with Beyonce Knowles and Ivy Park. 

With one of the most exciting collaborations in the company's history, the company reflects on how far the company has come.

Coronavirus pandemics of 2020-2021 were challenging times for companies worldwide. Adidas emerged from this difficult period with a new outlook: Kasper Rorsted extended his leadership of the company for another five years, the Reebok brand was divested, and 'Own the Game' was launched as a five-year strategy. An emphasis is placed on consumer experience, credibility, and sustainability.

What Made Adidas Famous?

After Jesse Owens wore Adidas' shoes to win four gold medals at the 1936 Olympics, Adidas became internationally famous. Germany won the 1954 World Cup final wearing Adidas shoes. Adidas became very famous because of these two sports events.

Since Adidas has been around for so long, Adolf Dassler gave it what it needed to become the sportswear icon it is today by launching it onto the world stage and giving it the platform to flourish. You're almost certain to notice the company's signature trefoil plant if you look around the next time you go out and about.