Adidas has become a national staple of Soviet and post-Soviet-Russian since the peak of the Cold War in the 1980s. Why do Russians love Adidas? Is there any deal between the brand and the Russian people?
Let’s study the reasons behind the Russian obsession with this three-stripe brand and its popularity in the country till now.
Adidas Overview: Is Adidas A Russian Company?
First and foremost, Adidas is a German shoes company. It was founded in 1949 by Adolf Dassler and his brother Rudolf Dassler (who then left Adidas to founded Puma). Its brand name, Adidas, originated from its family name “Dassler”.
Up till now, Adidas has a revenue of $22.4 billion. It is the #1 biggest sportswear producer in Europe and the #2 largest in the world, after Nike.
It is well-known for its sports star sponsorship, innovations in design and technology, and loyalty of young customers.
So, Why Do Russians Love Adidas?
Adidas has a long history dating back to the Moscow Olympics 1980s and the post-Cold War era. There are 4 main reasons why Russia is obsessed with Adidas, involving with the Soviet Union, the Moscow Olympics, the high-quality standards of Adidas products, and the unification theory.
Adidas Has A Long History In The Soviet Union
During the peak of the Cold War in the 1980s, Russians had limited connections with Western fashion styles and products. Thus, all foreign products like Adidas tracksuits were considered excellent, and vice versa, everything that was made in the Soviet was outdated and uncool.
For this reason, Adidas became an iconic image of Soviet and post-Soviet Russia. These 3 stripes (sometimes 2 stripes) had significant impacts on the Eastern side of the Iron Curtain.
However, the USSR Communist party required this German sportswear brand to hide its original appearance by making some adjustments to the product logo.
First, there was only a single red strip on the Russian Adidas tracksuit for male and female Russian athletes. Second, there was no company logo on the shoes, sneakers, or tracksuits.
Adidas Appeared In The Moscow Olympics
The second and also the main reason why Adidas is so popular in Eastern Europe countries like Russia, is that it had sponsorship for the 1980 Moscow Olympics.
Although Adidas products were manufactured in the USSR from 1979, it was not until 1980 did Adidas became a fashion staple for young Russians.
That year, Moscow was the host of the Olympic Games. And there was an agreement in which Adidas would be the sponsor for the Russian athletic team with their well-known striped sports uniform.
Dress shoes remained the classic stripes since they looked like the “M” (which means that the 1980 Olympics was in Moscow). But the “M” logo was in red color as a required statement of the USSR Communists.
Soon, Adidas gained a massive sales volume in Russia, and also had various manufacturing activities in South Russia.
Adidas Products Are Affordable And Comfortable To Wear
In the post-Iron Curtain period, Russians were poor and had little idea about expensive Western fashion trends. They looked for comfortable and cheap clothes like Adidas tracksuits. Therefore, the three-striped tracksuits from German became a fashion staple for their comfort, great design, and affordable price tags.
Everyone chose Adidas tracksuits as their everyday outfit. Prisoners choose Adidas tracksuits at that time since there were no available uniforms for them and they weren’t allowed to wear different clothes.
In the 1990s, wrestlers and lifters who worked for the mafia had great exposure to Western fashion from their abroad trips. These people hang around the main streets in their Adidas sports gear, making Adidas well-known for the street guys.
Nowadays, many young people prefer the Adidas brand over many Soviet and foreign ones because of the Gopniks (or street guys). Fake Adidas products make this Germand brand even more famous as a budget-friendly clothing choice.
Check more: Adidas Yeezy 500 Sizing Chart
The Adidas Logo Is Related To The Unification Theory
Last but not least, the trademarked three stripes in the Adidas logo are subconsciously the Holy Trinity, an element in the religion that connects the Orthodox and Catholic churches.
This Trinitry also unites all Slaves in a single, connected community. That’s why Adidas is favored among the Slavs.
This theory is widely accepted by many historians, anthropologists, and theologians who study Slavic culture.
How Popular Adidas Was In Russia?
Adidas was so popular in Russia since 1970 and was a trend since the 1980 Moscow Olympics, with tracksuits as its most popular products. However, the USSR Communist Party only listed Adidas products as other Western stuff like jeans, bubble gum, etc.
But Adidas tracksuits weren’t worn only by sports addicts, and their popularity went beyond their high-quality Western textiles.
In the early 1980s, Adidas tracksuits were the ultimate chic, a national symbol for Russians. From kids to adults, from street guys to office workers, everyone was crazed in these three-striped tracksuits.
After the fall of the Soviet Union, Adidas tracksuits became more popular in the criminal world. Prisons wore these tracksuits while in jails as uniform. Some people working for criminal firms, gopniks (lawbreakers), gangsters, or people who ride long-distance trains also favored these sporty coats.
Due to its popularity, there were many fake Adidas products sold at cheap prices in markets, under some funny names like Adidos or Abibas.
Adidas sneakers were also favored besides tracksuits. In the first days, the USSR purchased the producing license from this German company, and Adidas sneakers were introduced under the brand name “Moskva”. Thanks to their high quality and quietness, those Moskva sneakers were used by Russian soldiers in Afghanistan.
Against Soviet commands, these sneakers accidentally appeared in publications, from the Chechen military campaign to movies, toys, action figures, and various game environments.
The Moskvas were discontinued in 2011 as part of the wide-ranging Russian military reform, to replace them with other modern models of the Adidas family.
Adidas isn’t only a foreign fashion brand from the capitalists, but also a national symbol for Russia. There have been many funny memes about the Adidas logo on social networks and communities for Russians, like a cat that was trimmed the Adidas logo, a computer case painted with the Adidas logo, a car with the Adidas logo on the front, etc.
Are Adidas Products Still Supplied In Russia?
Due to the Russia-Ukraine war, Adidas, like other international brands like Puma or Nike, had to stop its presentation in Russia and its partnership with the Russian football union in February 2022.
This shutdown included closing all offline and online sales channels and stopping all production activities.
In sum, the main reason why Russia loves Adidas goes beyond its product quality or sports, but rather about its political influence and its presence in a big sports event like Moscow Olympics.
Despite its stop in 2022 due to the Russia-Ukraina war, Adidas is still a legend among Russians of all genres, ages, and social statuses.