The history of Adidas

The history of Adidas is one that is marked by personal relationships, disputes, innovations and a fierce competition between siblings. The company also had its share of ups and downs but came out stronger. Hence, without this rivalry and profound challenges, we wouldn’t have the premium, successful brand loved by many.

How it all began

The history of Adidas began when Adolf Dassler of Herzogenaurach, Germany started making shoes in the laundry room of his mother’s house. Adolf had an older brother who was then working for a leather company. When Rudolf returned to his hometown in 1924, he joined his younger brother in the shoe business.

  • The original shoemaking factory

Hence, Gebrüder Dassler Schuhfabrik, a shoemaking factory, was born. What started as a shoemaking business at home flourished into one of the biggest names in the industry today. Adolf was a persistent businessman, he even convinced American sprinter Jesse Owens to wear their shoes during the 1936 Summer Olympics. Owens won four gold medals and that feat established the excellent reputation of Dassler shoes. Soon, orders were pouring from all over the globe for their shoes and the company was selling roughly 200,000 pairs.

  • Adidas and Ruda (Puma) were formed

When World War II broke out, it was a bad time for the business. Both brothers were known as members of the Nazi party. According to archives, during bombing raids in 1943, the growing rift between the two brothers became untenable. Rudolf believed Adolf sold him out when he was picked up by American soldiers who accused him of being part of the Waffen SS, the armed military unit of the Nazi Party.

The brothers parted ways in 1947 with Rudolf forming his own shoe company named Ruda, a shortened version of his first and last names. Later on, Ruda would be rebranded as Puma. Adolf, on the other hand, also registered a new company, Adidas AG in 1949. Like his older brother’s firm, Adidas is a shortened version of his nickname, Adi and the first three letters of his last name (Dassler).

  • The rivalry continues

The competition between Ruda and Adidas continued until their deaths. They were never reconciled. However, both companies survived to this day. Puma and Adidas are both known as excellent brands of quality athletic shoes worn by celebrated and award-winning athletes.

  • Post Adi Dassler

When Adi Dassler died, the business was taken over by his son, Horst. After his demise, the company experienced troubles. It was taken over by French industrialist Bernard Tapie and eventually by Robert Louis-Dreyfus as CEO. Today, its Chairman is Igor Landau while Herbert Hainer serves as CEO. Adidas also expanded its operations and acquired the Salomon group which manufactures ski clothing and apparel. It is once again a healthy and profitable company.

Adidas today

Today, Adidas with its famous three striped logo, is the second highest largest sportswear manufacturer in the world and the biggest in Germany and Europe. It is the holding company which includes brands such as Reebok, Taylor-Made Adidas, and Rockport. The history of Adidas was rife with challenges and competitions but in spite of this, it is now a major brand selling more than shoes such as sports apparel and kits, bags, watches, eyewear and other sports related clothes and paraphernalia.

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