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The weird and wonderful artefacts in the Adidas archive

Words by Rob Chilton

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.

Adidas HQ in Herzogenaurach

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.

Adidas's relationship with pop culture is a central chapter

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.

Every decade of Adidas' output is recorded

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.

Prototype boots made for the US Army stationed in Herzogenaurach

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.

Compiling the book took 10 years

The Adidas Archive: The Footwear Collection is published by Taschen

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