Adidas is one of the biggest manufacturers of sporting goods in the world today, with global sales in the billions of dollars and a brand that is almost universally recognized. But it wasn’t always that way.
Adolf Dassler started to make sports shoes in his mother’s laundry room in Herzogenaurach, Bavaria, after returning from World War I. He was joined in 1924 by his brother Rudolf Dassler. Together they ran what became known as the Dassler Brothers Shoe Factory, with some success, but also not without difficulty. In those early days, the electricity supplies was very hit and miss, sometimes leaving the brothers no choice but to pedal a stationary bicycle to run their equipment.
The turning point for this fledgling company came in 1936, at the Summer Olympics. Adolf drove from Bavaria to Berlin on one of the world’s first Freeways. At the Olympic village, and lugging a suitcase full of spikes, he persuaded the United States’ sprinter Jesse Owens to use them. This was first time anyone had sponsored an African-American. Owens, of course, swept the board and won four gold medals. This success made him world famous and brought Dassler shoes to the attention of sportsmen. Interested in their shoes snowballed and orders flooded in. Before World War II, they were selling 200,000 pairs of shoes each year.
Tensions between the brothers smoldered for years until eventually erupting into a major falling out. They went there separate ways in 1947. Rudolph formed a company called Ruda (from Rudolph Dassler) which later became the brand Puma and is still around today. Adolph took his nickname of “Adi,” paired it with Dassler and got Adidas.
The company today is a massive global concern that rivals the number one brand Nike in the sports shoe market. The 3 stripes logo has become famous and forays into new markets have become common. Soccer, Tennis, Rugby, Track and Field can all boast significant sponsorships.
Like many other sporting goods manufacturers, Adidas has now produced a range of designer sunglasses. It might seem like a left turn in some ways, but keep in mind this is not so much high fashion as high performance. Adidas eyewear is unisex with tinted polarized lenses and sleek profiles. Many styles look as if they’ve been sculpted by a wind tunnel rather than a person, and the chances are that some probably have.
The Alibria A835 in ‘shiny khaki gray’ are a nod to aviators but look as if the aviator lenses have been fused to something much more futuristic. Lightweight and versatile, they are affordable and go anywhere, looking good on the beach or sweating under winter sun on the slopes.
The real standouts in terms of Star Trek ‘look at us-ness’ are the silver and orange SUPERNOVA A150. A one piece panel visor with a smoky brown tint is gripped by futuristic curved silver arms with a stripey orange inlay. They’re sure to attract attention and would look fabulous whether you skate, bike or jump out of planes. Even Jesse Owens would have liked them.