The Universal Magazine

The Adidas Brand: A Timeless Icon of Sports and Fashion

The association between the fashion designer and Adidas shows us the scale taken by the three-stripe brand

Adidas is a German brand of worldwide renown, synonymous with quality, innovation, and style in the field of sporting goods. Founded in 1949 by Adolf Dassler, Adidas has won the hearts of professional athletes and fashion enthusiasts alike with its diverse and iconic products. From the Adidas Samba to the Adidas Superstar, including flagship models such as the Adidas Forum Low and the Adidas Ozweego, this company has crossed decades and established itself as an essential reference in the market.

Origins and development of Adidas

The beginnings of Adidas and the rivalry with Puma

The history of Adidas begins with the creation of a family business in the city of Herzogenaurach, Germany. Adolf Dassler and his brother Rudolf decide to venture into the manufacturing of sports shoes. Following a dispute between the two brothers after World War II, they separate and each found their own company: Adolf creates Adidas, while Rudolf founds Puma, thus becoming one of Adidas’ main competitors.

International ascent and key innovations

Adidas’ success is quickly confirmed, notably thanks to the use of its shoes by the German national football team during the 1954 World Cup in Switzerland. The historic victory of West Germany during this tournament, nicknamed "the miracle of Bern," contributes to establishing the brand’s reputation and propelling its products onto the international stage. Adidas sports shoes then become synonymous with performance and quality.

Adidas Gazelle, iconic model of the brand
Adidas Gazelle, iconic model of the brand

In a strategic vision of expansion, Adidas, a global sports giant, acquired Le Coq Sportif in 1974. This French brand, known for its distinctive sporty chic, was struggling following the 1973 oil crisis. Thanks to this acquisition, Adidas saved Le Coq Sportif from bankruptcy, breathing new life into the brand. This Franco-German union gave rise to a remarkable dynamic, merging the power of Adidas and the elegance of Le Coq Sportif.

From 1990 to today: from near bankruptcy to rebirth

Around the early 1990s, Adidas, a global sports pillar, was in difficulty but was saved by French entrepreneur Bernard Tapie. He revitalized the brand by modernizing its logo, refreshing the collections, reforming the distribution strategy, and relocating production to Asia to reduce costs. In 1993, these efforts bore fruit, and Adidas became profitable again.

Robert Louis-Dreyfus took over the reins after Tapie, continuing the revival. In 1995, Adidas went public and expanded its influence by acquiring Salomon, while also revitalizing the French brand Le Coq Sportif.

The year 2006 marked a turning point with the acquisition of its competitor Reebok, even though it had to part ways with Salomon.

By 2015, Adidas was worth nearly 10 billion euros, rivaling Nike. However, the decade was also marked by divestments: Rockport in 2015, several golf brands in 2017, and the major turnaround in 2021, the sale of Reebok for 2.5 billion euros.

Despite ups and downs, Adidas has remained an iconic figure in sports, embodying innovation and tradition, and remains firmly rooted in the minds of athletes worldwide.

Iconic products and models

Cult shoes of the 1970s and 1980s

The 1970s and 1980s saw the emergence of many Adidas shoe models that have since become cult classics, such as the Adidas Gazelle, the Adidas Samba, and the Adidas Stan Smith. These iconic models, prized for their comfort, lightness, and pastel colors, are timeless.

Adidas Stan Smith, a best-seller from the brand with the three stripes.
Adidas Stan Smith, a best-seller from the brand with the three stripes.

Sporting equipment and partnerships with famous athletes

In addition to shoes, Adidas is also known for its sporting equipment and partnerships with renowned athletes. The brand is the official supplier of footballs for FIFA since 1970 and outfits numerous international athletes and sports teams.

Adidas soccer cleats, such as the Adidas Predator, are particularly appreciated by professional footballers for their performance and comfort.

Among the brand’s ambassadors are sports legends such as Franz Beckenbauer, who contributed to the development of the first Adidas tracksuit for the general public, and Lionel Messi, the Argentine footballer who needs no introduction. Both Messi and his French colleague Karim Benzema favor the new pair designed for them, the X CRAZYFAST.

The Argentine star debuts the Albiceleste's Adidas jersey in 2018
The Argentine star debuts the Albiceleste’s Adidas jersey in 2018

Other celebrities, such as basketball players Patrick Ewing and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, have also embraced the brand, contributing to its success in the world of basketball.

Influence and impact in fashion

Adidas pants and tracksuits of the 1970s

Adidas has made a lasting impression and established itself as a major player in fashion thanks to its iconic sportswear. Adidas pants and tracksuits, with their distinctive design and three stripes, quickly became cult pieces in the fashion landscape of the 1970s. Models such as the Adidas tracksuit and the Adidas sweatpants suit are now considered timeless classics that transcend generations.

The pastel trend and the evolution of style

In the 1980s, Adidas captured the spirit of the time by offering shoes in pastel colors, which were very popular at the time. Models like the Adidas Spirit, Adidas Lucy, Adidas Twister, Adidas Jolly, and Adidas Skeet won over consumers with their lightness, comfort, and original aesthetics. Despite the end of the pastel era, these models remain prized collectibles for fans of the brand.

Current success and reissues of retro models

Today, Adidas continues to innovate while paying homage to its heritage. The brand regularly revisits its iconic models, offering reissues of its emblematic shoes such as the Adidas Forum Bold and Adidas Bas Jet. Adidas’ retro collections are highly successful among consumers, who are nostalgic for these iconic models or simply attracted to their timeless aesthetics.

In addition to its other initiatives, Adidas has formed alliances with famous artists and designers to offer unique and bold models.

This is notably the case with the collaboration with rapper Kanye West, also known as Ye, which resulted in the famous Adidas Yeezy. These shoes, combining technicality and avant-garde style, have become desirable objects for collectors and fashion enthusiasts. However, following controversial remarks by Ye targeting the Jewish community, this collaboration was discontinued. Despite this internationally significant scandal, Adidas recently re-released a portion of the considerable Yeezy stock

The Yeezy, a pair of shoes resulting from the collaboration between Adidas and rapper Kanye West
The Yeezy, a pair of shoes resulting from the collaboration between Adidas and rapper Kanye West

Adidas, the enduring brand

Navigating through time with remarkable ease, Adidas has established itself as an essential player in the sports and fashion industry. It is a brand that, while respecting its heritage, has never ceased to reinvent itself.

From classic models that have spanned generations, such as the timeless Samba and Superstar, to more recent and avant-garde creations like the Forum Low and Ozweego, Adidas has conquered an international audience with the finesse of its design, constant innovation, and attention to the aesthetics of its products.

Indeed, Adidas does not simply follow fashion, it creates it. True to its mission, the brand continues to surprise, always seeking novelty without ever abandoning its past. This is reflected in the meticulous reissues of iconic models that honor its rich heritage.

However, beyond models and trends, one attribute has survived the test of time, indomitable: its three parallel stripes. This simple yet striking motif makes Adidas a brand with instantly recognizable visual identity, everywhere in the world. This symbol, more than just a logo, has become a guarantee of craftsmanship, quality, and unwavering style, a distinctive sign of the Adidas brand.

Collaboration with other brands and designers

Adidas and Gucci

Adidas has also formed partnerships with other brands to expand its offerings and attract a diverse clientele. Among the most iconic collaborations is the one with the Italian luxury brand Gucci. The Adidas/Gucci collaboration has given birth to exclusive fashion pieces that merge Adidas’ sporty style with Gucci’s sophistication.

Adidas and Gucci worked together to create this pair
Adidas and Gucci worked together to create this pair

Adidas and Stella McCartney

Among Adidas’ notable collaborations is the project with Stella McCartney. This alliance has brought a touch of haute couture to the brand’s sportswear and shoes. Thanks to this partnership, Adidas has been able to stay at the forefront of fashion and offer its customers unique and trendy products.

The model that English designer Stella McCartney has designed for Adidas
The model that English designer Stella McCartney has designed for Adidas

Adidas and Alexander Wang

Adidas has partnered with talented designer Alexander Wang, whose innovative work has injected a breath of modernity and uniqueness into their collections. Despite a recent controversy, Wang has shown responsibility by expressing regret for his past actions. His contribution to Adidas remains undeniable, as his bold vision has pushed the boundaries of the brand’s stylistic identity.

American fashion designer Alexander Wang has partnered with the German brand for the design of this pair
American fashion designer Alexander Wang has partnered with the German brand for the design of this pair

Adidas’ commitment to the environment

Adidas’ eco-friendly shift

Aware of current environmental challenges, Adidas has taken actions to reduce its ecological footprint. The brand has developed several initiatives in favor of sustainability and eco-responsibility.

Among these measures, Adidas has introduced shoes and clothing made from recycled materials. A notable example is the pair of shoes produced in partnership with the organization Parley for the Oceans, which uses plastic recovered from the oceans.

Adidas has also stated its intention to modify its production practices to reduce water and energy consumption. Additionally, the brand strives to improve equity and working conditions within its supply chains. These efforts demonstrate Adidas’ commitment to moving towards more responsible and sustainable business practices.

In conclusion

Adidas, a timeless symbol of quality and innovation in the sports and fashion industry, has established itself as an essential reference on a global scale. Since its creation in 1949, the brand has spanned generations, offering products that combine performance, comfort, and style. Despite moments of crisis, it has managed to reinvent itself, offering timeless classics such as Adidas Samba, Superstar, and Stan Smith, as well as bold collaborations with famous artists and creators. With a strong presence in the world of sports, Adidas equips numerous athletes and international teams, while also being present in the daily lives of fashion enthusiasts. Over time, the brand has remained true to its heritage while constantly innovating. Adidas’ recent commitment to more environmentally friendly practices demonstrates a willingness to adapt to contemporary challenges, illustrating its ability to evolve while remaining true to its DNA.

Adidas Websites and Social Media