Three stripes, a simple signature, has grown to become as ubiquitous in global fashion as the crossed C’s of Chanel or the Nike swoosh. Without even mentioning the brand’s name, you probably already know who we’re talking about—that’s the power of Adidas. What started as a small dream in a laundry room has manifested into a cultural empire. But how did they become such an iconic brand? 

The Rise and Evolution of an Icon

A Tale of Two Brothers

After stepping foot in his mother’s laundry room in Herzogenaurach (a small town in Bavaria, Germany) in 1924, Adolf “Adi” Dassler embarked on a journey to provide athletes with top-notch equipment—bringing his older brother Rudolph into the fold. Together, they formed the Dassler Brothers Shoe Factory (now known as Adidas). When runners Lina Radke and Jesse Owens won gold medals in 1928 and 1936 respectively wearing the two-stripe Dassler shoes, it solidified Adi’s “Olympic Idea” in the industry.

Despite their growing success, business between the Dassler brothers proved too difficult in lieu of an ever-growing personal feud, ultimately causing the two to part ways. Unable to continue using the two-striped branding, Adi Dassler changed the company name to Adidas (a play on his own name) and added a third stripe to the design. Rudolph Dassler went on to create his own company, Puma, becoming a lifelong rival.

After years of innovation and challenge from competitors, Adidas earned a reputation for being ahead of its time, unknowingly sparking a following in hip-hop culture. This lead to their iconic, evolving legacy.

A First in Hip-Hop

Traditionally known as a sportswear brand, Adidas was unaware of the impact they were having in the hip-hop community. In 1986, Run-D.M.C. released “My Adidas” to talk about their sneaker collection and combat the negative stereotypes associated with the youth who wore Kangol hats, gold chains, and unlaced Adidas sneakers. They wanted to put a positive spin on the stereotype and show that you can’t judge a book by its cover. It was a commentary on all the cool and positive experiences they were having, while wearing their Adidas kicks.

This song led to an unexpected partnership with the brand, because in 1986, Adidas sales blew up. An employee found out why when they saw a crowd of around 40,000 people hold up their Adidas kicks during a Run D.M.C. show at Madison Square Garden. After that moment, they became the first Hip-Hop group to get a Multi-Million dollar endorsement deal, and with Adidas’ help, they gave rise to the Hip-Hop sneaker culture.

In 1986, an @Adidas employee saw a crowd of around 40k people hold up their Adidas kicks during a Run D.M.C. show at MSG, leading to the 1st Multi-Million $ endorsement deal w/ a Hip-Hop group. Click To Tweet

An Evolving Legacy

Today, Adidas has become a leader in sportswear, athleisure, and streetwearrecently launching the “Calling All Creators” multi-platform campaign.

The campaign follows creators such as soccer royalty Lionel Messi, Grammy winner Pharrell Williams, designer Alexander Wang and supermodel Karlie Kloss. It showcases how each has creatively used their unique ways of thinking to elevate their careers and encourages others to do the same. The conversation continues under the hashtag #HeretoCreate, where fans can showcase the ways creativity has shaped their lives—much like artists create their success by using their own unique voice to express themselves.

The Three-Stripe Life

You’ll find the famed three-stripes on the racks and in the closets of any retailer or street style icon worth their clout. The stripes, along with its trefoil and triangle iterations elevate a simple piece of athletic wear to a higher aesthetic. The logos carry the look as is, but when customized, a world of opportunity is opened.

See some of our favorite three-stripe looks below for inspiration:

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Keep it classic. #pacsunmens #outfitgrid

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A classic outfit never goes out of style.

Stock up similar statement Adidas caps.

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Always in @adidasoriginals. #PSgirls

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Contrasting stripes play up any tonal look.

To add a twist to the style for your merch, order a horizontal-striped Adidas jacket.

Stripes and graphic tees are always a good bet.

Try Adidas Tech Tees for an athleisure take on custom graphic tees.

We’re proud to announce the start of something exclusive! In 2019, S&S Activewear will be your exclusive source of adidas® wholesale gear. Join the Three-Stripe life by stocking up on items your customers will love. Visit the S&S Activewear website for a sneak peak!

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