What Does Adidas Stand For? The Backstory Of One Of Your Favourite Sports/Streetwear Brands

By Rachel Tooley | January 28, 2020

A sportswear specialist with worldwide recognition, Adidas has been a leader of multiple markets within the clothing industry since last century, constantly evolving to create innovative products to supplement and enhance performance within all sports. Now, with a brand value of 16.7 million dollars, the company have seen collaborations with some of the most renowned designers, including Alexander Wang, Raf Simons, Stan Smith and Kanye West. But do you know the story behind the brand? 

Founded by Adolf and Rudolf Dassler in 1924, the company was first established in the small town of Bavaria, Germany, named Dassler Brothers Shoe Factory (Gebrüder Dassler Schuhfabrik). The company created footwear for athletes, some of which representing the brand won gold medals in Amsterdam and Berlin – the company’s first milestone. However, the brothers closed the brand and Adolf registered his own company in 1949 as Adi Dassler adidas Sports Shoe Factory – adidas in short. Rudolf also established his own brand, now known as Puma. A recurring query for the brand questions ‘what does adidas really stand for’? Urban myth tells us that adidas is an acronym for ‘all day I dream about sports’ however, the name is commonly known as an abbreviation for Adi’ (Adolf) Dassler. 

In 1954, the brand created the world’s first football boot, which was worn by the national German football team during their winning match against Hungary in the FIFA World Cup final. After the German’s victory, the brand became a recognized label in the world of football. adidas launched its first line of apparel just over a decade later, with the Franz Beckenbauer tracksuit. The tracksuit incorporated the brands signature three stripes and has been redesigned hundreds of times over the past few decades to become a contemporary streetwear staple. This release then saw adidas open up to a whole new market outside of footwear. 

Adidas created their official TELSTAR football in 1970, to be used in the FIFA World Cup that same year. The vivid monochrome design of the ball was created to ensure that watchers at home were able to see the ball clearly on their televisions. Still to this day adidas continue to provide the FIFA World Cup with footballs every season. The brand released its signature Trefoil logo design in 1972, just in time for the Olympic Games in Munich. Over the years after the FIFA World Cup, the 70’s saw adidas transform into a multi sports specialist, being trusted by various athletes from across the world, for its innovative, quality and performance enhancing products. 1978 saw the death of Adi Dassler, a man who redefined the whole sportswear industry. During the same year, his son and wife took over the brand to continue the Dassler legacy. 

Even though technology was less developed during the 80’s, adidas was still one step ahead of the game. 1984 saw the release of the adidas ‘Micropacer’, a shoe featuring a system that provided athletes with various performance statistics. Technology known today as adidas ‘Mi-coach’. 1986 saw the collaboration of adidas and US based hip-hop group, Run DMC. The collaboration followed the release of their song ‘my adidas’, which emphasized the group’s early enthusiasm for sneakers. This collaboration was one that snowballed into the concept of non-athletic based promotion/collaboration within the sportswear industry, a now common theme for collaborations within the sneaker and streetwear markets. 
The transition between the 80’s and 90’s was difficult for the brand. The sudden death of Kathe and Horst Dassler in the late 80’s meant a change in leadership was necessary for the brand to continue, nearly reaching bankruptcy in 1992. A new CEO for adidas was appointed the next year, Robert Louis-Dreyfus, who steered the company back to profit with a new direction. The company gained a new partner in 1997 – the Salomon Group and its associated brands, which saw the company change its name to adidas-Salomon AG. 1999 saw the company move to its new headquarters near Herzogenaurach, Germany, reconstructing a former US military base to house the growing brand. 

Herbert Hainer was appointed the new CEO in 2000, and the following years saw adidas’ further drive towards innovation, launching CilmaCool (2002), adizero (2004) and the F50 football boot in time for the 2006 FIFA World Cup. The new century also brought in new collaborations with names such as Yohji Yamamoto and Stella McCartney, and new labels including adidas Y-3 were born. Adidas and Salomon went their separate ways in 2005, which saw the brand acquire Reebok just one year later, and the brand was renamed adidas AG. 

Years following saw the unbeatable development of the adidas brand, introducing the Energy Boost running shoe in 2013, which featured specialist cushioning technology. In March 2015, the company implemented their new ‘Creating the New’ strategy, working to inspire and enable people to take advantage of the power of sport. Herbet Hainer stepped down as CEO in 2016 and Kasper Rorsted was appointed in October the same year.

In following years, and now in 2020, adidas are still working towards these strategies, focusing on its core objectives and capabilities. The brand continues to excel within both sports and fashion industries, and its ongoing legacy as being one of the most remarkable, innovative brands of both the 20th and 21st century.

 Take a look at the recent ‘adidas Monochromatic Retro collection’ here, which released earlier this month. Keep an eye out for more upcoming release dates and articles on some of our favourite leading brands, here at The Hoxton Trend.