The classic Superstar was originally a basketball shoe manufactured by adidas in 1969. The Superstar sneaker was originally released as a low-top version of the Pro Model basketball shoe but has achieved major popularity, it has been revamped time and time again and used on further product types. Dubbed the “shelltoe”, “shell shoes”, and “shell tops” for their rubber shell toe piece, this iconic silhouette is regarded as one of the major inspirations in the rise of the modern day “sneaker culture”.
The First of Many
Let’s go back to the year 1969 - Man took his first steps on the moon, The Beatles released their last album together, and adidas released the Superstar sneaker, a low-top version of the Adidas Pro Model. At this point in time, this sneaker was the first low-top basketball shoe to have an all-leather upper and rubber toe. This was a cutting-edge design for a time when canvas basketball shoes were considered the norm.
The adidas Superstar’s unique features quickly became popular amongst the NBA. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, six-time NBA Most Valuable Player and highest scorer in NBA history, was perhaps the Superstar’s biggest fan. Back in 1971, adidas made history by becoming one of the first companies to release player-endorsed basketball shoes. Jabbar’s adidas set the bar pretty high for future signature player sneakers.
In just a few short years, this innovative sneaker was being worn by over 75% of all NBA players. The rubber shell on the toe (which gave the shoe the nickname “shell shoes”) provided players with superior protection and durability and adidas’ newly developed cushioning technology gave the players better comfort compared to past sneakers.
Take it to the Streets
Finally we arrive in 1983, Run D.M.C., a rap group from Hollis Queens, New York, began to appear on the rap music scene. The trio stood out for rebelling against the traditional flashy clothing of rhinestones and spikes that most musical artists had been wearing up until this point. Instead, the group decided to dress on stage the same way they dressed on the streets. This included Kangol hats, leather jackets and unlaced adidas Superstars. The sneaker received a lot of hype from the rap group as they performed in them on their tours across the United States.
Run-D.M.C. loved the Superstar so much that in 1986, they released a song titled “My Adidas.” The lyrics are as follows:
“My Adidas and me close as can be
We make a mean team, my Adidas and me
We get around together, we down forever.”
The group attempted to flip the harmful stereotype associated with “b-boy” and hip-hop culture. A few years later, adidas signed a $1.6 million endorsement deal with Run D.M.C. This was the first non-sport collaboration between artists and a major corporation. Together, adidas and Run D.M.C. created a limited edition Superstar sneaker as well as a clothing line, which is still in production today under the label “Adidas Originals.”
Here and now
The year 2005 marked the 35th anniversary of the adidas Superstar. To celebrate, adidas created the “Adidas Superstar 35th Anniversary Collection,” a collaboration with music, fashion and art icons from around the world. Andy Warhol, Disney and Missy Elliot all designed a unique pair of limited-edition Superstar shoes.
Currently, Pharrell Williams has teamed up with adidas for a Superstar collaboration titled “Supercolour Pack” In a celebration of equality through diversity, adidas has come out with 50 different colours of the Superstar in order to promote individual style.
The Superstar sneaker has a long past and a very bright future. These sneakers have now become part of pop culture and its basic silhouette has proved to be timeless and appeals to people of all different shapes and sizes.