Formed in 1949 by Adolf Dassler, Adidas has grown to become the largest manufacturer of sportswear in Europe and the second largest in the world. The birth of the company came about when Adi along with his brother Rudolph, Rudi, formed the Dassler Brothers Shoe Company, which operated from their laundress mother’s washroom in Herzogenaurach, Bavaria. Things really took off when Adi traveled to Berlin and convinced Jesse Owens to wear his product in the notorious Olympic games of 1936.Following Owens’ success the brothers were inundated with letters of enquires from coaches worldwide. Trading boomed and in the three years preceding the Second World War they sold 200,000 pairs per year.
During the war years the brothers fell out and became more and more estranged reaching fever pitch in 1943 when during an allied bombing raid Adi said “They’re back again”. Rudi, who was in the shelter with his family, convinced the remark was leveled at him, was furious. Matters worsened when Rudi who was arrested G.I’s suspected of being a member of the S.S., which he wasn’t, was certain that Adi had tipped the Allies off.
Adi’s wife Kathe convinced the American forces that a badly damaged factory, earmarked for demolition could be put to better use as a harmless producer of sports shoes. They agreed and the Dolbury factory was born with the Americans becoming a massive customer base and business boomed once again. The animosity between the brothers increased so much that in 1947 they finally split up permanently. Rudi formed the Ruda Company while his younger brother created the Adidas brand, Ruda would soon become a rival brand and a bitter rivalry ensued that would last to their deaths. They were never reconciled and are buried as far apart from each other in the cemetery of their hometown.
Many of us have worn or played our sports wearing one or other of the brands unaware of the bitter sibling competitiveness of which Adi was the clear winner in terms of success and now you can wear a part of the history.
When somebody mentions Hamburg, to those of us of a “certain age” it instantly evokes memories of the Beatles and other British bands that learned their craft in this historic port city. Adidas is paying homage to the great city by bringing back into vogue the Adidas Originals Hamburg bearing the three parallel bears that have become an iconic trademark over the years. When you buy a pair of these classic trainers you will be buying into a history that was not fun and games all the time but historic nonetheless.