March 08, 2022 4 min read
Since its conception in 1949, adidas has embodied its founder’s vision of innovation. From its endorsement by professional athletes of all kinds to its promotion by hip-hop artists, adidas has proven time and time again that it is dedicated to performance and style. adidas is an innovator -- it brought us novelties such as performance-tracking shoes and exchangeable studs -- and has rightly become a global powerhouse in athletics and lifestyle.
Adi Dassler began making shoes in his mother’s laundry room after his return from World War I, his brother joining him shortly after. They called their shoe making business the Dassler Brothers Shoe Factory.
1936 - Adi Dassler convinces sprinter Jesse Owens to wear his spikes at the 1936 Olympic games. Owens wins 4 gold medals wearing the Dassler Brothers, putting them on the map.
1949 - At age 49, Adi Dassler registers“Adi Dassler adidas Sportschuhfabrik” and begins creating with his 47 employees. In the same year, he creates his first three-stripe shoe design.
Initially, adidas added stripes to its running shoes to make them more durable. Now the stripes have become a globally recognized symbol of the company.
1954 - The German national football team wears adidas boots to win the World Cup, putting Dassler on the map. The shoes’ lightweight design and screw-in studs proved effective for speed and agility. adidas’ screw-in design meant that athletes could have different studs for different playing conditions.
1967 - adidas releases its first piece of apparel, the Franz Beckenbauer tracksuit, designed for the German footballer revered for his skill on the field and his style off the field.
Adi Dassler was increasingly trusted by athletes, as he met with them personally to find out what they needed in their equipment and sportswear. Dassler went to the source to make sure his products were the most effective.
1968 - Bob Beamon sets the world record long jump wearing adidas.
adidas supported Dick Fosbury when he pioneered a new high jump technique, working with him on what he needed from his shoes.
Tennis player Rod Laver won multiple grand slams wearing adidas.
adidas supported basketball player Kareem Abdul-Jabbar throughout his entire career.
1970 - adidas provides the official ball for the FIFA World Cup for the first time, introducing the TELSTAR ball. It is the first soccer ball with the iconic black and white design, which was intended to improve the ball’s visibility on black and white television. adidas has provided the ball for every FIFA World Cup since.
1972 - In the year that Germany hosts the Olympic games, adidas introduces its trefoil logo. The stripes on the trefoil emblem symbolize the company’s focus on variety, while the three trefoil leaves stand for the three continents (North America, Europe, and Asia) where you can buy its products. This same year, adidas provided for the Argentinian national football team.
Gymnast Nadia Comaneci scored many perfect 10s wearing adidas, and mountaineer Reinhold Messner climbed mountains in adidas shoes.
1978 - Adi Dassler dies shortly before his 78th birthday. His wife Kathe takes over adidas.
1984 - adidas introduces the Micropacer, an innovative in-shoe computer that provides performance statistics. The system is still used in shoe chips today.
1986 - Hip-hop group Run-DMC releases the song “My Adidas.” They hold up their adidas shoes at concerts in front of tens of thousands of fans. adidas became a name in streetwear, and the partnership between adidas and Run-DMC set the tone for non-athletic promotions in the sportswear industry.
1987 - Adi Dassler’s son, Horst Dassler, dies just two years after his mother Kathe, and adidas becomes a stock corporation. Without the Dasslers, adidas’ poor new leadership causes the company near-bankrupcy.
1993 - Robert Louis-Dreyfus becomes CEO of adidas and steers the company back toward growth.
Under Louis-Dreyfus’ leadership, adidas becomes re-focused on improving athletes’ performance, introducing famous innovations such as Torsion (1989), the Equipment concept (1991), the Streetball campaign (1992), and the Predator football boot (1994).
1998 - adidas constructs its “World of Sports” campus for its quickly growing company.
2001 - Herbert Hainer becomes CEO of adidas. During his leadership, the company introduces ClimaCool (2002), adizero (2004), and the F50 football boot (2006).
In the 2000s, adidas introduced its lifestyle wear. The company began partnering with names in streetwear design and pop culture, marketing its products to an entirely new audience.
2006 - adidas acquires Reebok and the corporation’s name is changed to adidas AG.
2013 - adidas introduces the Energy Boost running shoe with an innovative new cushioning material.
2016 - Kasper Rorsted becomes CEO of adidas and focuses on fitness and lifestyle as interconnected.
adidas’ mountain-shaped logo conveys the idea of overcoming challenges. The round emblem is representative of the globe and adaptation to changes. Across all adidas logos, the brand name starts with a lowercase letter to emphasize that the brand produces casual sportswear that is accessible to everyone.
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