This time we will be demystifying some stereotypes around Russians’ love for Adidas. Of course, we all know that Adidas is a worldwide first-rate shoe manufacturer, but what exactly is the deal between this German brand and Russian people? This is how it all started:
Adidas Brand Overview
Adidas was originally founded in 1949 by Adolf Dassler, following a family fight between him and his older brother Rudolf, who had earlier established the famous rival sports company: Puma. Currently, with revenue at + £ billion ($22.4 billion) every year, Adidas is arguably the largest sports manufacturer in Europe, certainly the second largest in the world, just after Nike.
It is one of the most powerful global sports brands in competition for developing markets, sports star sponsorship, and design innovations- and most importantly, for the consideration and loyalty of the young-minded consumer.
The success of this grand may be subject to how exceptionally hyped their footwear is or the beautiful blue shade featured on the Adidas tracksuit that Stormzy wore during his performance at Glastonbury. Nonetheless, the fame of Adidas in Russia dates back to a completely different era.
The German Sports brand’s relationship with the Russian people dates back to the Soviet Union. The three (in some cases two) stripes made a significant splash over the Eastern side of the Iron Curtain. By then, no one could have envisioned that Adidas would become the sign of Russia’s realm.
Adidas & the Soviet Union
For quite a long time, Adidas has been a significant part of the undisclosed history of material culture in Soviet and Post-Soviet Russia. During the Soviet times, Russia had limited exposure to Western fashion. Consequently, everything foreign was considered cool such that everything Soviet was uncool.
The obsession with Adidas stems from the 1980 Moscow Olympics. During this time, active apparel for the Soviet team was manufactured by the German company Adidas. Nonetheless, the USSR Communist coalition pioneers put the labels of the capitalist brand on the tracksuit of Soviet athletes.
The classical three stripes were constrained to one red. Dress shoes preserved the stripes since these stripes looked like the letter “M”, implying that the Olympics were taking place in Moscow. Although the company name did not show up on clothing, sneakers, and tracksuits, Adidas gained massive popularity in Russia. From that point forward, it turned into a sportswear mark.
Adidas & Olympics
Speaking of sports, you might be surprised, but truck suits generally have nothing have to do with sports in Russia. In fact, most people wear them as everyday trousers, making them more like a stereotype or a national symbol.
Back during the Cold War, just before Moscow hosted the 1980 Olympics, Adidas consented to an arrangement with the Soviet government and provided the national team with a striped uniform. Not that the pioneers were satisfied with Soviet athletes competing in Western-made threads: the quality of textiles over the eastern side of the Iron Curtain were of mediocre quality.
Adidas was among the top-rated global brands to be famous behind the Iron Curtain. That means every Soviet citizen would have seen the three-striped tracksuits and shorts on Television, given that the label provided apparel for the USSR’s 1980 Olympic team.
Another argument behind Russian love for Adidas is that Adidas shoes were manufactured in the USSR under the license starting from1979. The USSR put forth a valiant effort to eradicate capitalists signs on the uniforms.
They didn’t showcase the Adidas logo: they only had two stripes, compared to the Adidas trademark three. However, this didn’t stop the Russian public from sticking to the reality that their heroes wore Adidas.
In the early 80s, people were generally poor, which meant little idea about Western fashion norms. As such, they went for cheap and comfortable clothes, which basically meant tracksuits. That way, Adidas tracksuit become a mark of ultimate chic. The stated three stripes were smacked on all types of garments such that the lucky few who could pay for a real deal felt like they were wearing tailored suits.
Up and even now, tracksuits are commonly worn by prisoners due to their comfortability. Besides, there were no prison uniforms available at that time, and different clothes weren’t allowed.
During the 90s, the mafia recruited lifters and wrestlers who had finished their sports careers to be muscle and enforcers. These subjects had a fair exposure to Western clothes from trips abroad and would hang around the main streets wearing their usual sports gear. Consequently, the black Adidas tracksuit became common apparel among street guys.
In modern Russia, the Adidas brand is also popular because of the Gopniks (street guys). The fact that Adidas are faked and sold cheaply makes them even more popular among the budget crowd.
The Bottom Line
Indeed Adidas had retained its sense of exclusivity and coolness, which later attracted people looking for power and status in the changing society- petty hoodlums and self-proclaimed business visionaries of questionable nature. And as stated before, tracksuits often have nothing to do with sport in Russia, especially in the provinces. Instead, most people count on them as everyday trousers, which has made them something of a national symbol.
Of course, many Russians tend to change into shell suits on trains. Even if they’re not gopniks. When asked, Victor Wachstein, a professor of social science, stated that a tracksuit nowadays is a half-public uniform, and the train compartment is half public. Perhaps this is why they suit each other so well, and of course, the fact that it’s just comfy to wear a sweatsuit.
To this end, Adidas tracksuits will probably always have a place on Russia’s streets. Besides, as Victor Guberniyev stated, life in Russia is endless, running with obstacles. Therefore it’s most likely helpful to have a tracksuit at hand. Obsession with the Adidas brand is common and an infinite source for fun among the people in Russia.