The History of the adidas Superstar

  • adidas Superstar

    adidas

    Birth

    The shoe first appeared in the late months of 1969, but had its rookie year in 1970. Almost immediately, NBA players embraced it. The shoe featured advanced padding called “SoftProtect” to shield the achilles area, as well as a herringbone “shell sole” for traction and cutting on the court. Add in the iconic rubber toe cap and it’s easy to see why 75 percent of the NBA was soon wearing it.

    As you can see here, the all-white originals are still suitable for the streets, in both city and suburbia.

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  • Oliver Morris/Getty Images

    1980s

    After watching the shoe fade in the late ’70s behind more technologically-advanced sneakers, most figured the Superstar — like every other shoe before it — would fade and morph into a relic of the past. Instead, hip-hop breathed life back into it. When Run-D.M.C. blew up, they brought their swagger with them, and that included rocking pairs of Superstars with the fat laces undone and the shell-toe out. Soon they were performing in Madison Square Garden, asking every fan in attendance to hold up their adidas Superstars…and soon after that, a mega, game-changing endorsement deal between the rap group and the 3-Stripes turned everything upside down. Things would never be the same for anyone or anything, including the sneakers.

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  • Mark Gonzales adidas Superstar

    adidas

    1990s

    By the ’90s, the shoe had established itself as an iconic piece of pop and street culture, a piece of branding that, if you were rocking it, said something about who you were and what you did. In hip-hop, there was the new school, more concerned with pushing boundaries and spreading out from the initial trendsetters during an age of gangster rap that included oversized clothes and Timberland boots, even as another group of b-boys and artists kept the old school roots alive.

    Then, the shoe went to yet another level when skateboarding legendĀ Mark Gonzales was signed to adidas to take advantage of the Superstar’s growing popularity among pop culture. As skating VHS tapes gained fame, they often introduced the younger generation to the shoes the skaters had on their feet, which were quite often either the Air Jordan I or the adidas Superstar.

    Gonzales would later return in 2015 for a special collaboration with adidas on the Superstar 80, expressing his individualism and creative spirit by designing a number of unique Superstar designs. Speaking of 2015…

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  • adidas Superstar Pharrell Williams

    @adidas

    2015

    Despite being older than virtually everyone that wears it, the adidas Superstar is still going strong in 2015. Right now, thanks in particular to a new collaboration with Pharrell Williams, the shoe figures to play a major role in fashion this year. Featuring a wide variety of palettes and color shades, it’ll be virtually impossible to not find a shoe that fits your personal style.

    What adidas is doing with the Superstar is taking advantage of its versatility. The same quality that made it so popular back in the day — its simplicity — is now providing the template for artistic and individualistic creativity, the things that drive the industry in the modern age.

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  • adidas Superstar
  • Mark Gonzales adidas Superstar
  • adidas Superstar Pharrell Williams

The adidas Superstar has been around since 1969. As a low-top version of the popular Pro Model, it was a silhouette that eventually made waves in the NBA, gaining fans across the league, including Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. He wore them on the court along with approximately 75 percent of the league as the shell-toed classics were the first basketball sneaker to feature an all-leather upper.

But it wasn’t until 1986 that the sneaker officially caught fire. That year marked the release of a song called “My Adidas” where a rap group from Queens called Run-D.M.C. professed their love for the sneaker. They spit my adidas cuts the sand of a foreign land / with mic in hand I cold took command / my adidas and me, close as can be / we make a mean team, my Adidas and me / we get around together, rhyme forever / and we won’t be mad when worn in bad weather and then went out and took stages everywhere while rocking the shoes exactly as they did in the streets: With the tongues pushed out and the laces undone.

Once that happened, the streets embraced the shoe. Forever.

Amazingly, in 2015 we’re still getting new collaborations and releases of the Superstar. In fact, this week marks the release of 11 new colorways at Champs Sports, a smorgasbord of swag that’ll surely have an edition for everyone considering it’s part of a collection put together by Pharrell Williams. It’s still a staple in everyone’s rotation and is always one of the most popular silhouettes in the spring.

To make sure you’re up on game for this week’s release, read up on how this particular shoe became one of the greatest ever. Here’s a History of the adidas Superstar.

Follow Sean on Twitter at @seanesweeney

image via NBC/Getty Images