Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Adolf "Adi" Dassler

I return to the subject of footwear for today's hero: Adolf "Adi" Dassler, the founder of adidas. Adidas is today a ubiquitous brand of shoes and apparel, but its origins are found in the small laundromat of a German cobbler's wife.

Adi Dassler was one of the cobbler's sons. He was quiet, deliberate, and passionate about sports, particularly soccer. In the 1920's, Adi joined with his brother Rudolph to fashion and sell shoes to athletes, forming Gebrüder Dassler Schuhfabrik. Adi was the designer while Rudi handled marketing. Their first shoes were made for runners but they branched out to make shoes for soccer players within five years. The Dassler shoes were first worn by Olympians in 1928; Jesse Owens won gold medals in their shoes eight years later. Of course, being a German manufacturer, the Dassler factory supplied the German military with shoes during the Second World War. Adi ran the factory while Rudolph was drafted into the army.

The war and differing political views seem to have strained irrevocably the brothers' relationship. In 1948 Rudolph started his own plant across the river in the same town (his company would become Puma). Adi then renamed the original enterprise "adidas" and didn't skip a beat. The brothers' companies competed vigorously for sponsorships with German athletes, but adidas likely won the marketing war with the "Miracle of Bern." It was the 1954 World Cup and the underdog West Germans managed to defeat the Hungarian team while wearing adidas shoes. The team wasn't merely stylish with those stripes; they had an advantage on the rain-soaked turf with removable studs on their regular shoes.

The removable studs were Adi Dassler's innovative idea. The Miracle endeared the company to Germans and soccer fans around the world and merchants everywhere demanded the adidas shoes. Since then adidas has progressed from making quality, stylish shoes to become a marketing master. They've sponsored hundreds of notable athletes such as Spitz, Zidane, and Agassi, and inspired copycat designs by popular shoemakers. On a personal note, I'm happy to say that I've purchased a couple of pairs of adidas shoes myself. Because of his contribution to the worlds of sport and footwear, Adi Dassler is today's Hero of Capitalism.

Adi Dassler Wikipedia entry entry
The History of Adidas and Puma (Newsweek)

A tale of three stripes and family strife (ESPN)

German feud inspires boot town (BBC)
Rediff News profile

Sneaker Wars - book about the Dassler brothers


Unknown said...

Informative content.

Buying a comfortable pair of shoes is something most of us look out for, especially when it comes to daily wear. Therefore, one should not compromise on the quality of shoes based on its pricing. A good pair of comfortable shoes may cost you a little more but would be worth the price for the cushioning they offer.

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