On this day, November 3 in the year 1900, the man who built a multinational sportswear company was born in Bavaria, Germany. His name was Adolf Dassler, the founder of Adidas.
Adolf Dassler was the son of a worker in a shoe factory. He was originally trained as a baker but he got interested in shoemaking when the family started making slippers using discarded materials such as used tires. After serving in the German Army during World War I, he formed the Dassler Brothers Shoe Factory together with his father and elder brother Rudolf.
Being a sports enthusiast, Adolf Dassler created shoes specifically for athletes. During the Amsterdam Olympics in 1928, the brothers gave away shoes to athletes. In 1936, Adolf drove to the Berlin Olympic Village and there, he convinced the American track and field Jesse Owens to wear Dassler shoes. With Jesse winning four gold medals, worldwide awareness of the brothers’ athletic shoes soared and business boomed with the brothers selling over 200,000 pairs in next couple of years.
Due to some disagreements, the brothers split after World War II. Adolf conceived and promoted the Adidas brand of athletic shoes while Rudolf went on to build the Puma brand. The name Adidas is a portmanteau of Adolf nickname Adi and his family name Dassler although it was thought to be an acronym of “All Day I Dream About Sports”. The 3-stripes trademark was registered in 1949.
In 1954, the Adidas brand became a household name all over the world when the German national football team won over the Hungarians in the 1954 World Cup. From then on, Adolf pursued gold medalists to wear the iconic brand.
Adi died in 1978 at the age of 77. After his death, his son Horst took over management of the family business.