Ever wondered how we’ve gone from black leather-soled shoes, three-piece suits and conservative dresses to white sneakers and trackpants in the space of a century? We’ve pulled together three top reads to take you through the history of sportswear, from adidas founder Adi Dassler’s vision to create the best footwear for athletes in the 1920s, through to his iconic three-striped tracksuit in the 1960s and explosion of the Superstar basketball shoe from the courts to the streets in the 1980s.

1. The history of sportswear: Meet the man who started it all, Adi Dassler

A visionary, innovator and a profound sports enthusiast, Adolf (Adi) Dassler, transformed the sporting goods industry, inspiring millions of people in the process. His drive to supply athletes with the very best equipment helped propel adidas to international fame and admiration.  

While the main focus was on providing elite athletes with superior equipment, the fashionable design of adidas products inadvertently spilled into modern culture. As Adi Dassler continued to push the boundaries of innovation, one thing was clear: the brand with the three stripes was driving the history of sportwear.

Click here to find out more about Adi Dassler’s creative virtues.

Man holding football shoe up close to his face for inspection, Adi, Adolf, Dassler, adidas, shoe, company, history, shoemaker
Adolf (Adi) Dassler. He founded adidas based on an obsession with sport and a passion to provide athletes with the best equipment. ©adidas Archive

2. The history of sportswear: Athleisurewear starts with the tracksuit

What separated Adi Dassler from other clothing entrepreneurs was his ability to see and nurture potential. With the introduction of new materials to the clothing industry in the 1960’s, Adi Dassler pounced on the opportunity to create adidas’ first clothing piece clothing.

Endorsed by football superstar Franz Beckenbauer, the stylish tracksuits soon became the product of choice for people both on and off the pitch. Marketed as the perfect leisure time clothing, the tracksuit is credited with being one of the first athleisurewear products.

Read more about the iconic rise of the adidas tracksuit here.

adidas advertisment of a family on a camping trip
The beginning of ‘athleisurewear’ – adidas started to market the tracksuit as a product to wear on and off the sportsfield.

3. The history of sportswear: A Superstar is born!

Originally developed for elite basketball players, the adidas Superstar transcended the boundaries of sport to become a modern-day fashion staple. As the German brand was looking to tap into new markets, a young Horst Dassler saw an opportunity to create what would later become one of the most iconic athleisure products of all time. A shoe so cool and technologically advanced that athletes would wear them both during and after their games. The Superstar would soon cross over to popular fashion and become a street wear icon.

Black and White image of Run DMc in their adidas Superstar sneakers.
During the 80s the Superstar made its legendary transition into streetwear. ©Lawrence Watson

Read all about the Superstar here. 

Want more adidas history?

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by Blogs4Shoppers 26.04.2022
Thanks for sharing this information.
Loved the blog!

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by Michael 19.05.2022
Adi Dassler is kult! Adidas is kult! And of course also the 3 stripes, which stand for sports and coolness!
by Ivan Villalba 22.08.2022
4. Who is next?
by Araa Active 05.12.2022
Highly Informative Article. Keep posting in the future also. Thanks…

by Seamless Black Shorts 16.12.2022
Really enjoyed your article as its highly informative.
by david hudson 28.01.2023
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by Erika Jade 18.05.2023
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