adidas, also known as The Three Stripes Brand, is a German sportswear company founded in 1949 by Adolf “Adi” Dassler. Over the past 70 years, it has become a global player within the sneaker industry, among both casual and savvy consumers.
With influence spanning football, basketball, tennis, skateboarding, fencing, and other sports, the company's first performance-related breakthrough occurred in 1936 within the running space. Jesse Owens famously wore Dassler's revolutionary canvas and rubber spiked running shoe in the Summer Olympics held in Germany that year. And while Owens' record-breaking performance at the global competition brought adidas attention, the brand hadn't yet found its identity; the spikes didn't feature the brand's now-signature 3-Stripes logo. (adidas acquired this branding from Finland's Karhu in 1952.)
The German brand achieved similar attention in subsequent decades within both the basketball and tennis spaces thanks to the Superstar (1969) and Stan Smith (1973), respectively. Other made-for-sports models like the adidas Top Ten (1979) and adidas Forum (1984) similarly became lifestyle staples in New York, Boston, Chicago, and other cities. adidas' Superstar became the unofficial shoe of hip-hop in the 1980s largely due to RUN DMC's superstardom. (The shell-toe was the best-selling sneaker in North America in 2016.) While less popular stateside, running silhouettes like the SL 72 (1972) and ZX 500 (1984) boast devoted fans of trainers across Europe and Asia.
Recent years have seen 3-Stripes-branded sneakers soar in popularity, in large part because of the Kanye West led Yeezy sub-label and Ultra Boost, as well as BOOST and adidas 4D cushioning. adidas has also pioneered high-fashion collaborations, hosting Yohji Yamamoto's Y-3 imprint since 2003. In 2020, classic silhouettes will continue to be reimagined by Prada and Craig Green. Elsewhere, partnerships with Beyoncé's IVY PARK, Tyler “Ninja” Blevins, Jonah Hill, Pharrell and others will ensure adidas remains the global behemoth it is.