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What is the Meaning Behind ‘Adidas’? And 10 other questions about Adidas

Posted on January 19 2021

 

 

1. What is the meaning behind ‘Adidas’?

 

Adidas takes its name from its founder, Adolf Dassler. More commonly called ‘Adi’, ‘Adidas’ is an abbreviation of the 1920s shoemaker’s name: ‘Adi-Das[sler]’.

 

However, many have speculated otherwise, suggesting that the brand settled on the name because it was an acronym for ‘All Day I Dream About Sport’ or ‘Soccer’. Although an extremely appropriate coincidence, that it all it is. With its roots being firmly in its founder’s nickname, the more recent acronym is simply based on the success of the brand.

 

 

2. Who created Adidas?

 

The youngest son of Christoph and Pauline Dassler, Adolf, or ‘Adi’ as he was called, was raised in the small town of Herzogenaurach and initially worked as a baker’s apprentice. Aware that this was not the future he desired, he was encouraged by his passion for sport and father’s work as a cobbler to explore the undiscovered world of sport-specific shoemaking. Convinced that athletic success would be improved considerably with tailor made shoes, he converted his mother’s wash room into a workshop began developing his footwear.

 

In 1923, his older brother Rudolf, who had been training as a policeman, joined his small business and together they named the company ‘Gebrüder Dassler Sportschuhfabrik’ or ‘Dassler Brothers Sport Shoe Factory’. During the war, the relationship between the two brothers badly deteriorated and they eventually went their separate ways in 1948. With his brother no longer working alongside him, Adi renamed his company, registering it on 18th August 1949 as ‘adidas’.

 

Adidas Vintage Clothing Warehouse

Figure 1. The original Gebrüder Dassler Sportschuhfabrik factory.

 

 

3. Does Adidas own Puma?

 

NO! Two years older than his brother, Rudolph Dassler went to war in 1914 and served for a number of years before returning to begin his police training. Joining Adi’s company shortly after, he took charge of the sales and marketing while his brother managed the technical developments. Supplying shoes for the likes of Jesse Owens, the years preceding WWII were hugely successful and the business expanded quickly. However, the following war years were detrimental to their relationship. Drafted to fight yet again, Rudolph was forced to leave the business in Adi’s hands and the letters exchanged between them became hostile, disagreeing on the war-time management of the company. Coming to a head in 1948, the brothers ended their partnership and Rudolph established a rival company under the name of ‘Ruda’ just across town. A few months later, he renamed his business ‘Puma Schuhfabrik Rudolph Dassler’.

 

Today, Adidas and Puma remain firm rivals and have shaped the great competition within the sportswear industry.

 

 

4. What does the Adidas logo mean?

 

Described by its founder as ‘the three-stripe company’, Adidas originally added stripes to their shoes to make them more durable. Today the stripes are a significant cultural icon, with people all over the world recognising the brand’s famous logo.

 

Originally, the logo featured two stripes as extensions of the two letter ‘d’s’ in its name. However, this resulted in a dispute with Karhu Sports who claimed ownership of the design. Settled for €1,600 and two bottles of whisky, Adidas bought the stripes trademark and laid the foundations for what would become one of the most famous emblems in history.

 

In the early 70s, the logo was given three parallel stripes within a trefoil as a means of illustrating the variety of the brand and the three places in the world where its products could be found: North America, Europe and Asia. The more recent mountain was designed with the idea of overcoming challenges in mind; an appropriate notion for a brand that prioritised performance from its infancy.

 

Vintage Adidas Logos

Figure 2. The evolution of the adidas logo.

 

 

5. Where are Adidas shoes made?

 

Adidas has around 800 factories in over 55 countries across the globe. One of the few companies in the industry that fully discloses its global factory lists and publishes specifics including its primary suppliers, subcontractors and licensees, Adidas offers detailed information regarding its manufacturing processes on its website.

 

With the majority of its products being made in Asia, it also has factories in North and South America, Australia and New Zealand, Africa and Europe.

 

 

6. Who owns Adidas?

 

Upon the death of Adi Dassler, Adidas was taken over by his wife Käthe and son Horst and remained under the leadership of the Dassler family until Horst’s sudden death in 1987. With the leadership uncertainty and changes causing record losses, Robert Louis-Dreyfuss, the then CEO, recognised the need for a new direction. He confidently steered the company forwards with efficient marketing strategies and in 1995 Adidas went public under the new slogan: ‘We knew then, we know now.’ In 2001, Herbert Hainer took over the role and spent 15 years driving the focus on innovation before handing the position to the current CEO, Kasper Rorsted, in 2016.

 

 

7. Does Adidas own Reebok?

 

The short answer: Yes! In 2005 Adidas bought Reebok for $3.8 billion in a move to take on Nike in U.S. markets. Holding the major sponsorship deal with the National Basketball Championship (NBA), Adidas felt confident that the sportswear brand would significantly bolster their position. However, since the acquisition, Reebok’s popularity has waned despite attempts to reenergise the brand through collaborations with the likes of Ariana Grande and Gigi Hadid.

 

However, stay tuned as rumour has it that Adidas are considering selling their subsidiary, revealing towards the end of 2020 that decisions would be made in the new year. 

 

 

8. How do you pronounce Adidas?

 

We are sorry to say that fans of the brand who have been calling it ‘Ah-dee-das’ - stressing the second syllable - have been pronouncing the German brand incorrectly… Named after Adi Dassler, if you say his name quickly, you have it: ‘Ah-di-das’. It really does sound as it is written, stressing the first syllable, not the second.

 

 

9. Who is Stan Smith?

 

Vintage Adidas and Stan Smith

Figure 3. Stan Smith in the 1971 U.S. Open final against Czechoslovakia’s Jan Kodes.

 

You may love the shoes that bear his name, but do you know who Stan Smith is?

 

Originally named the ‘Adidas Robert Haillet’, the trainer design was initially endorsed by the prominent French tennis player, Robert Haillet, upon their release in 1965. However, in 1978 they were renamed after the American player and former world number 1, Stan Smith.

 

Born in Pasadena, California, Smith started playing tennis at the age of 16. He went on to win the US Open in 1971 and then first of his two Wimbledon Grand Slams the following year. Soon after, Adidas approached him with their all-leather tennis shoe and his face began to appear the tongue of the famous model, making his endorsement clear. Today, Stan Smiths are iconic and you can now find a vegan range, inspired by the efforts of Stella McCartney.

 

 

10. Why do the Russians love Adidas?

 

In Russia, the three stripes have become a distinctive cultural marker. Gopniks, those who identify with a suburban subculture that was kickstarted in the 1980s, are devoted ambassadors of the brand and can be spotted by their matching tracksuits and characteristic squat.

 

The obsession with Adidas originates with the 1980 Moscow Olympics, when the sportswear brand manufactured the kit for the Russian team. Despite the USSR banning the company logo, Adidas became one of the most popular clothing brands in the country and the fight to find ‘western’ clothing began. A marker of nonconformism, given the Soviet elite’s dislike of the brand, Adidas came to represent the modern Russian criminal world and the Gopniks, being wannabe gangsters, still sport the three stripes today.

 

Why do Russians love Adidas?

Figure 4.  Russian Gopniks squatting in the street.

 

 

References:

 

https://www.vintagesports.com/

https://1000logos.net/

https://www.latimes.com/

https://www.rbth.com/

 

 

 

 

Relevant links:

 

Check out the Thrifted Adidas collection:

Men: https://www.thrifted.com/collections/vintage-mens-adidas

Women: https://www.thrifted.com/collections/vintage-womens-adidas

Or maybe the Reebok collection:

Men: https://www.thrifted.com/collections/vintage-mens-reebok

Women: https://www.thrifted.com/collections/vintage-womens-reebok

 

Thrifted.com – the UK & Europe’s leading vintage clothing store and America’s best online thrift store

 

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