In the 21st century, we live in a world filled with logos, brands and corporate identities. If you live in a big city, you’ll probably encounter hundreds of logos every single day without even noticing. But despite the ubiquity of branding culture, only a handful of companies ever make it to the level that their logos become effectively part of the mainstream lexicon; so widespread and familiar that their presence is as Adidas Stan Smith Donna unsurprising as that of cars, trees or buildings. So embedded in the scenery that you never stop to ask where they came from.
You’ve probably heard the story about the Nike logo being designed for $35, or the apocryphal Adidas ZX Flux Mujer Multicolor tale about the Apple logo being inspired by Alan Turing’s suicide by eating an apple laced with cyanide (the bite mark was actually to indicate scale, to prevent the apple being mistaken for a smaller fruit such as a cherry), but one brand whose story hasn’t really been explored enough is, ironically, one who has arguably trumpeted its branding loudest: The brand with the 3-stripes.
That might be because, unlike the calculated, purposeful design of most contemporary brands, the adidas logo predates most promotional and consumer culture. In fact, it sort of predates the adidas brand altogether. So, in order to understand the 3-stripes in all their various forms, we need to lay a bit of historical foundation.
Himself the son of a shoe factory worker, Adolf “Adi” Dassler started making shoe’s in 1924 alongside his older Adidas Gazelle Damen brother, Rudolf. The two established the company Gebrüder Dassler Schuhfabrik (Dassler Brothers Shoe Factory) in Herzogenaurach, and began manufacturing rudimentary running spikes, which featured two stripes across the lateral Nike Air Max 90 Femme Blanche and medial sides as a way of binding the shoe together and providing structure to the shoe. This is important to consider; at its core, the adidas logo is one born from function and practicality rather than aesthetics. Of course, it also provided a clear point of difference and mark of distinction when athletes wore the product at competitions, which certainly wasn’t a disadvantage, but that functional element remains central to the 3-stripes branding.
The company performed well over the years that followed, but in 1939, World War II broke out and, like most German manufacturers at the time, the Dassler Adidas ZX Flux Mujer brothers were brought into the war effort and their factories were requisitioned for military manufacturing. It was during this time that one of sportswear’s most iconic rivalries began; Rudolf believed Adi had reported him Adidas NMD Femme to Allied Forces as a member of the Waffen SS, and an off-the-cuff remark by Adi as he entered a bomb shelter caused a rift between the two brothers that never healed. In 1947, they would go their separate ways, with Rudolf starting a new company called RuDa (later rebranded to PUMA), and Adi starting adidas, a modification of the Adi Dassler name.
Unfortunately, when Adi started his new company he was no longer able to use the two signature stripes of his former company. The solution? Adding a third one in the middle, creating the now iconic 3-stripes mark that graces virtually every adidas product created in Adidas ZX Flux Womens Black one form or another.
You’d think the story would end there, but funnily enough, by the time Dassler went to register the 3-stripes mark as a trademark of his brand, he discovered that another brand had already beat Adidas ZX Flux Femme him to it. As it happened, a small Finnish sportswear brand called Karhu (which has seen a return to popularity in sneaker communities) lately) had already registered the 3-stripes in their name.