My Adidas

17 04 2010

In a previous post, I exposed the strong influence of one of the elements of hip hop culture on sneakers.  Now, I would like to discuss how a hip hop group of MCs single handedly made sneakers a cultural movement.  Aside from the sport of basketball, Run-DMC had the most impact in creating a culture of sneakers and making them an iconic style.

The hip hop group had a deep admiration of a particular Adidas sneaker called the Superstar, or known as Shell Toes.  Before the group’s emergence on the scene in 1983, the Adidas Superstar sneaker was not heavily popular in the market.  However with the group becoming popular and sporting the sneakers, the black and white rubber sneaker skyrocketed in sales.  The group’s featured song, My Adidas, helped resurrect the Adidas sneakers and catapulted the culture movement in the 80s.  Much of the success of Adidas at that time was due to the group’s popularity and rise in pop charts.  Run-DMC is said to have been “the voice that spoke for a whole generation.

First verse of the hit song, My Adidas:

My Adidas
walked through concert doors
and roamed all over coliseum floors
I stepped on stage, at Live Aid
All the people gave and the poor got paid
And out of speakers I did speak
I wore my sneakers but I’m not a sneak
My Adidas cuts the sand of a foreign land
with mic in hand I cold took command
my Adidas and me, close as can be
we make a mean team, my Adidas
and me
we get around together, rhyme forever
and we won’t be mad when worn in bad weather
My Adidas
My Adidas
My Adidas

Kids identified with the group and mimicked what the group displayed, Adidas sneakers (with no shoe laces) and Adidas apparel.  It was this huge success that made corporate brands aware of the sheer scope of the affection urban youths had for their sneakers.  Run-DMC became the first group of individuals outside of professional athletes to be sponsored by a footwear company when Adidas signed them for a million dollars in 1986.  This Run-DMC promotion instantly boosted sells for the Adidas company with 382,000 pairs of Superstars sold in the same year.  It was also reported that $22 million of Adidas product was sold in one weekend during that time.

Run-DMC in Adidas

The promotion of Adidas and Run-DMC is, to this day, the most famous collaboration between fashion, sneakers, and inner city culture.  Adidas played a large role in sneaker history by not only merging popular music and shoes, but also awakening big footwear companies.  Companies began to realize the importance of what is popular was what the youth were wearing, targeting a new customer base.  The decision to tap into the youth and hip hop culture paid off and could be seen by increasing sales.