The story behind the Adidas Superstar

Adidas, the athletic goods company, is nicknamed The Three Stripes mostly because of the recognizable design on the iconic sneaker of all times, Superstar.

People are calling the shoe “shell toe”, “shell shoes”, and “shell tops” for the shoe’s rubber shell toe-piece over the years. But not a lot know the story behind Adidas Superstar.

Origin of The Superstar

The Superstar was originally a basketball shoe manufactured by Adidas in1969.

Before the shoe came out, most players on the basketball court are wearing Converse canvas shoes which had poor grip and they routinely suffer ankles and knees injuries from making abrupt moves and cuts during the play.

Superstar was the first low-top basketball shoe to feature an all-leather upper, giving players extra protection by a much firmer hold than Converse canvas.

Image sourced from Adidas


Next-generation Basketball Shoe

“They had played in canvas all their lives; the Superstar looked completely alien to them,” Chris Severn, an Adidas consultant at the time, said in the book Sneaker Wars.

Its revolutionary technological qualities have caught the attention of best players in the NBA, most notably Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, to wear them on the court and change the basketball footwear industry.

The Superstar was worn by over 75% of all NBA players within the first few years of its introduction, proofing of its revolutionary technology which remains today.

Image sourced from Adidas

From Basketball court to streetwear

In the mid-1980s, Run-DMC, the biggest hip-hop group in the world at that time, had brought Superstar from basketball court to street.

The highly fashionable group was the first rap group to have certified gold and platinum albums, as well as a Grammy nomination. Run D.M.C. made them their signature fashion choice on stage for wearing the Superstars without any laces and pushing the tongue of the shoe out.

Image sourced from Run-DMC

One of the most remarkable scenes happened when the group performed “My Adidas”, an ode released in 1986, and asked fans “if you got Adidas on, hold ‘em up,” 40,000 fans held their Superstars up in the air.

The Superstar shoe has then become part of popular youth fashion and is now worn regularly as casual footwear, rather than for basketball.

Video sourced from Run DMC

The Deal that connects hip-hop and Adidas

Adidas had the foresight to know hip-hop will become the genre of the youth and signed an advertising deal with the Run-DMC.

The deal was the first endorsement between hip-hop artists and major corporations. This partnership set the tone for every other hip-hop deals to follow in the ensuing decades. Without Run-DMC and Adidas, there will likely be no Kanye West and Adidas.

Image sourced from Adidas

With the introduction of Superstar II, the extra padding, and moving production to Asia in the 90s, the iconic silhouette has since become one of the major influences in sneaker culture. You could now be part of adidas culture and get your own Superstars at Adidas Online Store.