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Express Yourself: Run DMC and The Evolution of Adidas

adidas_superstar_ii_17

Once

again, back is the incredible! I know its been a minute since I checked in, but

The Fly Guy is back with a vengeance!  You’re

now tuned in to the World’s Most Dangerous Style Column.

 

The

first time around, we talked about Kwamé,

who killed the game with the polka dot craze.

 

This

time we’re gonna go back about five years before that and talk about Run DMC, a

group that started one of the biggest trends of all time. They are credited

with a ridiculous amount of “firsts” over the course of their

legendary career. Among these are:

First

rap act to have a #1 R&B charting albumFirst

rap act to have a Top 10 Pop charting albumFirst

rap act to earn RIAA Gold, Platinum, and Multi-Platinum albumsFirst

rap act to appear on the cover of Rolling

Stone MagazineFirst

rap act to have a video added on MTV

 

and…

the topic of our conversation today-

The

first non-athletes to be signed to an athletic product endorsement deal.

 

Damn!!  Thats a whole lotta firsts! Y’all got a lotta

work to do in my comment section to get to their level!

They were even on Reading Rainbow with Levar Burton! Run DMC loved the children!

Run

DMC contributed many things to style in Hip-Hop, but most notably, they are

responsible for the American crossover success of European sportswear brand, adidas.

 

They

released their smash hit, “My Adidas” 

on the B side of their “Peter Piper” single in preparation for their

third album Raising Hell in 1986. In

the lyrics, Run and DMC traded clever rhymes about their relationship with

their favorite sneakers. They were seen in magazines, on TV and at shows

wearing adidas Superstars and Forums with no laces (or sometimes fat laces) and

the tongue popped. 

 

As

a result, the whole country started wearing adidas “shelltoes,”

Forums, and tracksuits. Run DMC is also credited as the first rap group to translate

street style into Hip-Hop. Up until that time, hip hop artists were more likely

to have a disco feel their look. 

 

While

on tour, Run and DMC would tell the crowds at their packed out shows to “Put

your adidas in the air!” In response, thousands of fans took off their sneakers

and held them over their heads. This actually resulted in one of the most

monumental endorsement deals in history.

 

One

version of the story goes like this: Lyor Cohen, who was at Rush Management at

the time, sent footage to the adidas offices from a concert at the Spectrum in

Philadelphia. The packed-out crowd of thousands was holding adidas sneakers in

the air upon demand from Run DMC.

 

After

seeing the footage, adidas corporate headquarters in Germany sent a young

executive named Angelo Anastasio to see a RUN DMC concert at Madison Square

Garden in New York City. As usual, as they rocked the crowd and got ready to go

into “My Adidas”, they stopped and told the crowd to put their adidas in the

air. To even Run DMC’s surprise, the whole Madison Square Garden (20,000 fans)

held up their sneakers.

 

After

seeing it with his own eyes, the adidas exec went backstage and offered the

group an endorsement deal. There are a lot of rumors about how much the deal

was worth (I’ve heard $1 million and 1.5 million per year).  Outside of that, the deal would call for Run

DMC to have a hand in creating their own Run DMC branded adidas

lifestyle/athletic product, such as sneakers, tracksuits, leather jackets, and

other apparel.

 

This

deal would help cement adidas’ near-domination of the marketplace throughout

most of the ‘80s, and cement Run DMC’s place in sportswear history. adidas and Run

DMC seemed to have an undying relationship until the early 2000’s when Run (know

known as Rev Run), was seen representing his own footwear companies, Phat Farm

Footwear and Run Athletics. DMC could also recently be seen endorsing Le Coq

Sportif footwear.

 

So,

even though all good things must come to an end, the relationship between adidas

and Run DMC broke barriers on a lot of different levels. It paved the way for

recording artists and other non-athletes to receive endorsement deals from

athletic brands, such as adidas, Nike, Reebok and Converse. It also showed the

corporate world that the influence and marketability of Hip-Hop was more

widespread than they ever imagined.

 Adidas Brand History/Facts

 

Adidas

was founded in Herzogenaurach, Germany in 1948, by Adolf Dassler, who went by

the nickname of Adi. The name “adidas” was created by taking his nickname,

“Adi” and the first three letters of his last name “das”. If you put it

together, you realize that the correct pronunciation is Adi-Das.

 

The

company was formed after a family dispute between Adi, and his brother, Rudolf,

also known as “Rudi”, caused them to shut down their footwear company, Gebruder

Dassler (Dassler Brothers, in German). After the dispute, which was said to go

on until the brothers’ death, Adi went on to start adidas, and Rudi went on to

start a brand called Puma.

 

The

adidas Trefoil (sometimes called the clover) logo was inspired by the laurel

crown given to the winners of sporting festivals in ancient Greece. The crown

represents the Olympic spirit and the pursuit of victory.

 

Adi

Dassler decided to use all lowercase letters in the spelling of adidas to

further distinguish it from the competition

 

As

much as Run DMC made history by being the first non athletes to sign an atletic

endorsement deal, adidas made history as the first athletic brand to sponsor

non-athletes.

 Here’s an exclusive Run DMC clip from the documentary Just For Kicks

Can It Live?

 

This

adidas/ Run DMC trend was started over 20 years ago. Can it be or is it still

hot today?

 

When

the sneaker game really became prominent to me, in about 2001, the must have

sneaker was the Nike Air Force One. Thanks to countless songs, shoutouts, and

video appearances, the AF1 left no place in the market for any other shoe. Now

that the reign of the AF1 is fading, adidas Superstars (or “shelltoes”, as they

are often called) seem to have risen from the ashes to fill the void of the

standard Hip-Hop sneaker.

 

It

has also become a choice shoe for sneaker customizers to base their creations

off of. (As a designer myself, it’s my personal favorite shoe to use for

customs.) Also fueled by the heavy ‘80s retro craze that just hit us, adidas

track jackets have once again become a staple wardrobe piece. 

 

So,

needless to say, this trend is alive and well, and it looks like it could be

around for a while. You can definitely catch the newest versions of Superstars

and track jackets with colorful themes and artist collaborations in a store

near you.

 

The Moral of the Story

 

Three

kids from Queens, New York decided that they were going base their rap image

upon how they would dress in the street, instead of the going with the more

popular disco look of the time.

 

They

always rocked their favorite sneakers. They wrote a song about them. It swept

the nation, then everybody started rocking their favorite sneakers. Favorite

sneaker company catches on and signs the three kids to an endorsement deal

worth over a million dollars.

 

This

is what happened to them when they went against the norm and did their

thing…What’s gonna happen to you when you go against the norm and do yours?

 

May

Jam Master Jay rest in Peace!!

 

Thanks

for rockin’ with the flyest. Peace!

 

Here is a 2007 adidas commercial with a classic vibe, featuring Bgirl Jeskilz of Rock Steady Crew 

Another 2007 commercial with a futuristic feel

It’s been over two decades since “My Adidas” made the sneakers popular in Hip-Hop, and the influence is still heavy. This is St. Louis artist Huey’s dedication to the brand (we see you Memphitz!)

And here’s a guy (after a few beers) taking advantage of his apartment building’s cable security cam… we can’t even tell what kind of sneakers he’s wearing, but the bugout to “My Adidas” was worth a mention

 

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