The weird and wonderful artefacts in the Adidas archive
Words by Rob Chilton
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Two photographers spent almost a decade documenting the secret rooms at Adidas HQ to produce a definitive history of the brand
Herzogenaurach is a little town on the Aurach river in Bavaria, southern Germany. The name might not mean that much to most people, and it’s certainly not on the tourist trail, but for many sneakerheads it is the epicentre of the world. That’s because it was here in Herzogenaurach way back in 1919 that two brothers founded what would become Adidas.
The story is well known: Adolf Dassler – nicknamed ‘Adi’ – and his brother Rudolf made athletic shoes at their home. Years later in 1948, an acrimonious split led to Adolf forming Adidas at one end of town and his brother creating rival brand Puma at the other.
Prototypes and shoes from those early, creative years were stored in an attic in and it’s these shoes that form a fascinating new book, which charts the history of the beloved Adidas brand.
Photographers Christian Habermeier and Sebastian Jäger have been painstakingly documenting the footwear since 2011, the result of which is a new hardback book, The Adidas Archive. The Footwear Collection.
Documenting more than 357 models including never-before-seen prototypes and one-of-a-kind originals, this essential book also documents Adidas’ numerous collaborations with star designers such as Kanye West, Pharrell Williams, Raf Simons, Stella McCartney and Yohji Yamamoto. There are customised models manufactured for Lionel Messi, as well as the boot worn by West Germany’s football team in their victorious 1954 World Cup campaign.
Former Adidas design chief Jacques Chassaing calls the book “a tool for inspiration and a treasure trove that showcases Adidas’ ambition, identity, and originality.” Reading it might even make you book a ticket to Herzogenaurach.
The Adidas Archive: The Footwear Collection is published by Taschen
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