How has one of the world’s oldest sports companies evolved over more than 70 years? We take a deep dive into adidas’ background. The adidas background is a long history of collaboration and innovation. As one of the oldest companies in the worldwide sporting goods industry, there have been many highs (and some lows) that have shaped the company for more than 70 years.
adidas background: 1900 — 1949
The company was born from humble beginnings in the small town of Herzogenaurach in Bavaria, Germany. Adolf (Adi) Dassler was born there in 1900. He completed school, and a short apprenticeship as a baker, but decided against baking as a long-term career. After returning from conscription in the army at the end of World War One, he learned the skills of a shoemaker, and opened a small shoe repair business at the back of his family home.
Adi’s passion for sport led him to begin experimenting with specialist footwear for athletes, and in 1924 – together with his brother Rudolf – he officially registered the company ‘Gebrüder Dassler Schuhfabrik‘ (Dassler Brothers Shoe Factory). They manufactured some of the first spiked running shoes for athletic. It was these shoes that helped 800m runner Lina Radke to a gold medal in the 1928 Amsterdam Olympic Games.
At the controversial Berlin Olympics in 1936, Adi Dassler met with up-and-coming US sprinter Jesse Owens. Whilst evidence is inconclusive, legend has it that Jesse chose to race in Dassler Brothers spiked running shoes, going on to win four gold medals. What we do know for certain is that Jesse stayed in contact with Adi Dassler after this event, and later became an ambassador for the company adidas.
The Dassler brothers’ business and relationship was put under immense strain through the period of World War Two. The business just about survived, but their working relationship did not. They agreed to split up ‘Gebrüder Dassler Schuhfabrik’ in 1948 and soon after became competitors. Read details.