Thursday, March 26, 2020

50 Years of Superstar; A heritage exhibition at the Adidas HQ

At the beginning of this month I spent a few days in Herzogenaurach 
to visit my favorite place on the Adidas HQ campus; 
The adidas archive.
My connection to the archive goes back quite a few years, so when I 
was asked, if I would like to contribute some pieces from my 
collection to an internal on campus exhibition I was please to help 
out.The exhibition pays homage to the 50th anniversary of the most 
iconic adidas model, the adidas superstar.

To get an exchange going I also took part in a panel discussion with 
adidas original's own Till Jagler, moderated by Martin Gebhardt from the 
archive's history management. We talked about the role of an iconic 
model like the superstar and it's value in today's short trended times, 
as well as the significance of interdisciplinary exchange between the 
brand and the personal perspective of collectors, trendsetters and
creatives. I was honored to represent the female collector, connoisseur
and creative side and talk about my experiences and views, while Till 
brought some essential business, trend and brand insight to the table. 
I have always been an advocate for interdisciplinary work and am so 
happy we were able to make this happen! At the end of the day we all 
are living and working inside our bubble, so I find exchanges and talks 
like this essential for an authentic culture, that isn't solely based on 
consumption and hype.

The superstar is as rich in style as it is in history. It's iconic status is 
unparalleled, as few models have prevailed decades of trends and 
became a status symbol in so many scenes.
I lent a pair of 1986s Adidas ElDorado and a Sweatshirt from the RUN 
DMC collection to the archive and they displayed them beautifully.

The idea for the on campus exhibition was to create a space 
that lets the employees/visitors check out the displays on their way 
to the canteen or, if interested in more, hang out and learn 
additional details and fun facts about the history of the model, by
scrolling through the info spots that accompany each display and get 
educated on the social, cultural and technical details.

While I was browsing through the info-pods I noticed the employees
streaming into the building for their lunch break. I loved how many 
of them skipped their way to the seating area and went straight to 
the exhibition space to spend their break there and have a look 
Most people know the obvious historical history about the Superstar, 
but it was a pleasure to see that many employees got curious and 
took their time to explore more unknown facts about this icon.

Over all a well curated exhibition that reveals many interesting and
not-so-known-facts without giving the impression of an overload of 
Since this exhibition is not open to the public I thought it would be 
nice to give you a peek into the space an it's rare content.
Enjoy all the pictures and additional infos after the jump

Basketball plays in the court of high demand. Starting in
the early 60s, adidas experiments with toe cap protection
and soles to increase stability, strength and endurance.

1960 Allround
Multi-sports performance boot used for basketball 

Prototypes are sent back and forth. Then, a 
breakthrough –  the circumferential seam. 
Combined with a molded sole, the shoe is 
responsive and capable of withstanding the 
start-stop demands of the court

1963 Supergrip prototype

1965 Supergrip, low top basketball shoe 
The basketball shoes Supergrip and Promodel are 
developed by adidas France and launched in 1965. 
They sport features that will eventually become 
defining characteristics of the Superstar.

1965 Promodel, high top basketball shoe 

Force of natural selection; 
The era of the all-canvas basketball shoe has come to 
an end. The Supergrip and Promodel provide top 
professional basketball players with a cow hide leather 
shoe that is more comfortable and durable, and far more 
capable of handling the inherent stresses of the game.

1968 French catalogue featuring the Supergrip with
shell toe. By the end of the 60s, the Supergrip
features a reinforced shell toe and herringbone outer
sole. For now, the process of evolution continues with
modifications and testing.

1969 Superstar prototype

It absorbs impact, can withstand heavy abuse and has
become emblematic of the Superstar story itself – the
shell toe.
Not only does it provide a distinctive quality, but also
a look that will serve its future incarnation as icon in
the arena of culture and lifestyle.

1970 Basketball catalogue adidas France 

The Superstar sports a series of features that  outperform any 
other shoe on the court. Stitched to the upper is a Herringbone 
sole providing optimal traction and durability, the special 
Softprotect provides added protection to the achilles area and
the foam padded tongue relieves any pressure from the laces.

1969 Technical drawing, Adidas France
The shelltoe 
does not only provide a distinctive quality, but also
look that will serve its future incarnation as icon in the  arena of
culture and lifestyle.


2015 Superstar Supercolor Zaha Hadid
Prestigious architect Zaha Hadid proves that even an
iconic design is not rigid or stationary but can continue
to evolve. Invited by Pharell Williams, she transforms
the Superstar into the Supershell by introducing elegant

Hip hop is the combined expression of rap, DJing,
breakdancing and graffiti. What begins as a subculture
unifying the urban minority experience soon establishes
itself as a worldwide cultural phenomenon. DJs, rappers,
breakdancers, and graffiti artists emerge from the Bronx
under one identifying label in the 70s. It’s a creative
force with a uniquely urban social, political and cultural
narrative. The inner-city youth driving this scene also
develop hip hop fashion, of which sportswear is a
distinctive element. The Superstar finds itself fashionable
with street credibility.

1980 Superstar (Classic silhouette and B-Boys favorite)

1985 Superstar (Classic Americana colorway)

1980 Superstar
Colored tongue label, felt and leather stripes, a more 
relaxed fit and the electrifying street credibility result 
in what purists and collectors refer to as the definitive 
edition Superstar.

1983 Superstar (first black edition)

1987 adidas News featuring Madonna
photographed by Deborah Feingold in 1983
The look and trend kicked off by B-boys breaks out of 
the Bronx in the early 80s. With fat laces or none at 
all, the Superstars have serious presence worldwide – 

downtown to uptown!

Style is quest of contradictions: individualism and mass
appeal, innovation and tradition. By the early 80s adidas
starts to design not only for performance but for lifestyles.

In the arena of lifestyle and culture it’s a whole new game now;
Godfather hats, leather jackets and gold chains, all tied
together with unlaced Superstars! With their song “My adidas”,
Run DMC signs their signature look, and with adidas lands their
own collection.
“They changed the whole image and concept of sneakers.”
Shinichi Takizawa, Neighbourhood

Back in the day, gold chains and laceless sneakers are seen by 
some to be worn only by thugs and criminals. While there’s 
nothing new about young fashion causing friction, prejudice can 
shape some sharp opinions. In May 1986, Run DMC set the record 
straight with the release of “My Adidas.”The song is an anthem, 
protest, love letter and celebration all at the same time. 
The track is an instant success and takes the charts by storm. 
With the success of Run DMC and My Adidas comes a noticeable 
spike in sneaker sales. Adidas' marketing manager Angelo Anastasio 
visits their the 1986 concert at Madison Square Garden and when 
Run DMC calls out for anyone wearing their adidas to raise them
high, he instantly knows the hype is real. 
Shortly after the concert a one million dollar deal is signed. 
A deal that changes the relationship between music and fashion 
forever. Four Run DMC shoes are released in 1988. Named after 
the group’s favourite cars are the high-tops Eldorado and 
Fleetwood, and the low-top Brougham. The fourth, the Ultrastar, 
is a take on the Superstar with an elastic tongue for easy laceless 
wear. A corresponding apparel line ties the look together.

1987 Run DMC Hollis crew sweater
created for adidas' first signature collection

1988 Japanese catalogue featuring the Run DMC collection

My Pair of the 1986 ElDorado
signed by Darryl 'DMC'  McDaniels

2003 Leather Superstar Tracksuit
Adidas expands into apparel in the 70s. 
First advertised as tennis clothing, the Superstar 
tracksuit grows out of its origins into a wider field of 
activity and lifestyle. With the introduction of Adidas 

Originals in 2001, the Superstar tracksuit is predestined 

as a classic fashion item to ride the retro wave and to 

become a style icon.

While not all stars can be seen, they all shine. What begins
as a performance basketball shoe evolves into a sneaker fit
for lifestyles of all kinds. From urban skaters and kids on
bobby cars to golfers and snowboarders on the slopes.
It’s your lifestyle, Superstar!

The authentic origins of urban street style make
the Superstar an obvious fashion choice. But with sport
still part of its DNA, and as streetstyle continues its
relentless influence on youth culture, the Superstar
expands its use and utility.
Skateboarding, like street 
style, is born of urban creativity. In the early 90s, 
street skateboarding is becoming ever more popular. 
Adidas catches the drift and develops classic silhouettes 
to meet the needs of this vibrant street sport.

Around the turn of the millennium the lifestyle market is booming, 
and our authentic Originals products are immensely popular. 
The brand takes a leap into new territory by establishing a separate 
lifestyle division, and it gets off to a fantastic start. 
The concept: Reintroduce. Redesign. Reinterpret.
In 2001 adidas opens it's first Originals store in the heart of Berlin.
Collaborations and special editions are an Originals way of life. 
Appropriately, the Superstar plays into the hands of some of the most 
talented artists and designers out there.
Celebrating Style and heritage Nigo, founder of the Japanese brand 
“A Bathing Ape”, sees greatness in the Superstar. In 2003, he 
expresses his love through creation. Out of respect for its long 
history, he creates his own interpretation inspired by the vintage 
look of the Superstar shell toe and Bathing Ape’s iconic camouflage 
design. The Super Ape Star is born, and with it, the golden age of 

2003 Super Ape Star Camo

In 2005, the Superstar celebrates its 35th birthday
amongst friends and family. As special guests, 35
new Superstars come to congratulate and kick the
party into gear.

Punctual as ever, the first to arrive are members
of the Superstar’s exclusive Consortium. Some have
been with the Superstar since its inception, others
are super fresh and they all inspire the fashion
retail market

The super rare Superstar II Masterpiece, 2005

The most creative artists and designers are inspired 
with the Superstar. Adidas' collaborations not only 
revive vintage looks, they also re-imagine them with 
the vitality and relevance of the times, whether a 
reflection of culture like Star Wars or a personal 
expression. In this way, the Superstar is timeless. 
It’s impact on culture is its legacy. Visual artists, 
musicians and designers have all been fueled by the 
Superstar, and the creations keep on coming.

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