Monthly Archives: June 2012

Including The Clash in this week is a bit of an understatement.  If I really had to think about it, The Clash are probably the one band that I’ve listened to the most throughout my life.  As of late though, The Clash has kind of taken on a new meaning for me, as the deeper I dig into the band’s catalog, the more I seem to be inspired by them.

The Clash are often unfairly lumped together with other bands that popped up during the early days of punk, yet there’s always been something about The Clash that set them apart.  While other late seventies punk groups were lauded for their raw aggression and simplicity The Clash took another route. They were just as loud and ferocious, yet they were also polished and thoughtful. To understand what differentiated The Clash from the rest of the scene, we have to take a look at another legendary band from the time, The Sex Pistols. The Pistols had Malcolm McLaren, The Clash had Bernie Rhodes.

Rhodes was an associate of Mclaren’s at the infamous SEX shop and had watched him create the Sex Pistols-taking a few misled kids and molding them into the controversial poster children of an angry era, inspiring Rhodes to try his hand at creating a band of his own.  Pulling from the vast pool of musicians in the London underground scene, Rhodes assembled Mick Jones, Joe Stummer, Paul Simonon, and Terry Chimes (Chimes would leave a year later, being replaced by permanent member Topper Headon.)  While Rhodes only spent a year as The Clash’s manager (he was fired after negotiating the band’s embarrassingly poor CBS contract,) he left a lasting impact on the band as a whole.  After watching how McLaren branded The Sex Pistols, Rhodes conceptualized The Clash as a band about issues.  From their songs to their outfits, The Clash presented themselves as a band of educated rebels.

Yet, once Rhodes left, this aesthetic was taken to another level.  Early albums such as Give ‘Em Enough Rope and London Calling were filled with emotionally charged songs and depth that was hard to find in music during the late seventies.  It was London Calling in particular, an album that covered racial issues, war, unemployment, and a general feeling of unease that echoed the sentiments of so many misguided youth, not only at the time but for decades to come.  The album became a massive success and carried The Clash across the world on tour.  Live the band’s appearance echoed their albums, sporting military surplus, chambray shirts, white denim, colored leather jackets, and hand-painted tees.

Right from the start The Clash were always a band that was about the complete package, it wasn’t just their songs, or their look, or their energy that made them so well-known, it was everything together.  They were revolutionary both in the content of their music and in who they were, a band that was personally so strong that it was tough to label them as just another part of the UK punk scene.  In their later career with albums such as Sandinsta! and Combat Rock, they delved deeper into other genres, taking influence from third world countries.  This can be heard in the reggae, dub, and calypso tracks on their records and it can be clearly seen in the tiger camo, colored button-ups, prints, and generally more avant garde garb that they adopted during this time.

Unfortunately as the band branched out other styles, they became plagued with inner turmoil and ultimately broke up, releasing their final album only eight years after their debut.  The legacy of The Clash does not only lie in their music  it can be found in everything the band touched, from their concert videos, to their portraits, to their home movies The Clash still reign as one of the most powerful and influential bands ever formed.

Starting out on this week, I hadn’t really thought about how all these bands that I’ve been drawn to lately are related.  Most are loosely connected, sounding somewhat similar to each other or falling in the same relative genre, yet, with The Specials and today’s artist, Elvis Costello, the connection is direct.  Just two years after Costello released his debut album, My Aim is True, he had his hand in producing the debut album for another burgeoning British band.  That band was The Specials.  While The Specials were a breakbeat ska band, Costello was more of straight forward pub rock artist, but they both shared the same mentality of the English underground music scene.

Costello, (who was born Declan Patrick MacManus) began his career by hustling his way through the local London music scene at night and working menial jobs during the day to make ends meet.  Inspired by his father, who was a musician himself, and early rock bands, Costello adopted a strongly pop sound guided by his distinct voice and prowess as a storyteller.  In 1976 Costello signed to Stiff Records, a newfound label that was scooping up British New Wave artists, and began working on his first album.  At the behest of his label he adopted a stage moniker, taking Elvis from Presley and Costello from his own father’s stage name.  The album, which consisted of songs that Costello had written late at night after coming home from his data-entry job, was slow to take off, forcing Costello to keep his day job during the release, but three weeks later it all clicked and Costello gained overnight success.

My Aim is True became one of the greatest rock albums of not only the mid-seventies, but of all time, propelling Costello into the world music spotlight.  Yet it wasn’t just the album itself that helped Costello’s rise, it was his overall image.  The now famous cover of My Aim is True shows him wearing a colored sportcoat, his signature Buddy Holly glasses, and a well worn Jazzmaster, setting the stage for Costello’s career.  His two next albums, This Year’s Model and Armed Forces captured this same aesthetic, harkening back to those early days of rock and roll when showmanship and personality were equally as important as how you sounded.

In the eighties, Costello began to show just how expansive his musical background is, branching out into soul, country western, harder rock, punk, new wave, and jazz.  While this didn’t always spell success for Costello, it did show his diversity as an artist, something that was reflected in his presence, donning polka dot shirts, patterned jackets, and porkpie hats.  His exploration into other genres continued into the nineties as Costello dug deeper into jazz and classical, growing a beard and producing vast orchestrated pieces.  Coupled with with darker outfits and a long beard, this became Costello’s most severe period.  Yet, by the late nineties Costello had swung back to his roots, returning to the straightforward pop songs of his past.

As the turn of the century rolled around, Costello settled into his current stage, flowing through various genres with each respective album.  Now clean shaven, and a bit more toned down, Costello still throws in those patterned sportcoats, low-top brimmed hats, darker dress shirts.  As a man that has always been renowned for his ability to tell stories through his music no matter how it may be classified, Costello consistently keeps that solid, well-put together base adding in various touches here and there to echo his emotions during that period.  And of course, no matter what, he’ll always have his thick Buddy Holly glasses.

With temperatures beginning to rise into the nineties, and the city generally taking on what can only be described as a syrupy haze, I’m easing nicely into the summer slump.  For the foreseeable future it seems all I want to do is wear the same shirt everyday, take five times as long to do simple tasks, and choose air conditioning over everything else.  Normally this has always been my response to the sweltering summer heat, but this year there’s a new addition to my routine, listening to the same bands over and over again.  I don’t know if it’s because I’m too lazy to scour the internet for something new, or if I’m content with my current collection, or if I simply just never liked that much music to begin with, but as of late I’ve been perfectly happy listening to the same ten or so albums on repeat.  Naturally, as these bands are pretty much all I’ve been listening these past few weeks, they’re starting to really influence my whole summer outlook.  So as a nod to that, this week is dedicated to three bands that have shaped my early summer, not only through their music, but through their entire image.

The Specials are one of those bands that I’ve been listening to for as long as I’ve really cared about music.  By balancing the rocksteady beat of reggae with the raw energy of early seventies punk, The Specials became one of the most prolific of all seventies ska bands.  Yet, it was the band’s politically charged sentiments that helped to make them so much more memorable than most other bands from their era.  The Specials took a strong stance against racism, hoping to help diffuse the tension between races that ran throughout England during the late seventies.  Their attitude took on larger meaning as The Specials lead the way in the Two Tone ska movement.  It wasn’t just about music, it was about their personalities.  Inspired by 1960’s Rude Boys and Mods, the Specials wore dark suits, well worn hats, white sneakers, plaid pants, patterned jackets, black loafers, and dark sunglasses.  While their clothes made them stand out for what they believed in during the late seventies, it also helped solidify them as style icons for decades to come.  Their clothes were strong and at times severe but they wore them with this relaxed sense of comfort that made them look entirely natural.  The Specials knew they stood out, hell they wanted to, so they went with it.  And along the way provided us all with some pretty damn good inspiration on how to pull off outfits we normally would never even consider.

In a break from this week’s theme, here’s a special Friday post to finish out the week.  This year Tretorn asked me to be a part of their Nylite Project, so one white pair of shoes and a tub of KoolAid later, I give you my DIY Nylites.

For me picking up a pair of stark white sneakers has always meant that summer has finally arrived.  But you know what else spells summer: Kool Aid.  Yup, few things compare to a refreshingly saccharine glass of Kool-Aid on a hot day.  And truthfully, despite the fact that that the slightest stain scares the bejesus out of me today, I was a pretty messy kid.  Nearly every item of clothing I had in my younger years was riddled with stains, everything from apple juice, to grass, to some things even I wouldn’t want to identify.  So, as an homage to my younger self and to summertime I decided to dye my Nylites in Kool-Aid.  Naturally, I had to go with the old-standby Purple, and while they aren’t exactly that deep shade of purple I was going for, they certainly look way better than those ratty t-shirts I had as a kid.

I had originally intended to write about Marcello Mastroianni for today’s post, but I realized that with Mastroianni’s reputation already well established, my words wouldn’t really have been revolutionary to anyone.  Plus how many more times can we all look at stills from 8 1/2 before they lose their meaning entirely.  And then I remembered a photo that has been stuck in my head for a few months now.  The photo is a narrow shot that shows Vittorio De Sica, the Italian Neo-Realist film director, departing a plane at London Airport in 1955.  If the photo sounds simple it’s because it is, and aside from De Sica’s wind blown tie and smirk, it’s a relatively static image.  But what keeps me going back to the photo is De Sica’s attire.  His suit’s soft shoulder, wide lapels, and button stance are all simply perfect, making De Sica’s outfit arguably the quintessential example of Neapolitan tailoring.

Raised in Naples, as a kid De Sica worked his way through menial jobs to support his family, although he always had his sights set on acting.  In the late twenties De Sica began performing in comedies and building up a decent reputation in the Italian film world.  Yet, it was in the forties when he turned his focus toward directing that De Sica truly found his calling, becoming a crucial figure in the burgeoning Italian Neo-Realism scene.  Films such as The Bicycle Thieves (probably one of the greatest films ever made) and Umberto D. made De Sica legendary for his graphic portrayal of all aspects of Post War Italian life.

Throughout his life De Sica always remained an ardent follower of the Italian tailoring tradition, a subtle nod to his own Neapolitan background. Yet, De Sica did not work solely with tailors from Naples such as Rubinacci, (who created the suit in the photo above from London Airport,) but he also frequently wore suits from Caraceni in Rome, and ateliers throughout Florence.  Photos of De Sica’s suits and sportcoats are still referenced today as some of the finest examples of Italian tailoring.  The cut, details, patterns and overall look of De Sica’s wardrobe are what so many of us continue to strive for today in our own attire.  De Sica is proof that when it comes to the Italian cut, the past still prevails.

It all started with one sixteen year old kid.  Over a century before the soft shouldered sport coat became blogger bait, well before there were Tumblrs dedicated to the style of elderly Italian men, in a time where Gilt and Yoox were just made up words, there was just Luigi Bianchi.  As a teenager all Luigi ever set to do was bring some honor to his family, but what he ended up accomplishing was that and so much more.

Luigi Bianchi

Luigi grew up in the provincial northern Italian town of Mantova (known in English as Mantua,) where his father and grandfather made a living by traveling door to door as tailors and barbers, offering their services right in people’s kitchens.  For the two men this was as far as their trades would ever take them, but Luigi believed that the craft of tailoring deserved better than a traveller’s life.  With a head full of dreams, Luigi left Mantova and headed west to Turin, a major city that bred master tailors.  When Luigi started his journey in 1896 he was just a boy with an idea, but in 1911 he returned a man that had not only learned the art of tailoring, but was ready to run a company of his own.

Vintage Lubiam Ad

Luigi’s vision was manifested as “Luigi Bianchi – Men’s Clothes and Dresses and Suits for Women,” Established at No. 11 Via Pietro Calvi, the shop was everything a homegrown menswear store should be.  It offered made to measure, done by Luigi himself and ready to wear, making it one of the first stores to offer both side-by-side.  The shop’s textiles and fabrics were some of the finest in the world, a testament to Luigi’s prowess as a tailor and a designer.  Luigi’s reputation soon exceeded the small town of Mantova as legends like the Prince of Wales began placing orders at his shop.

Vintage Lubiam Ad

Luigi and his family decided it was time to move away from womenswear and streamline their men’s production to keep up with demand.  The expansion, spearheaded by Luigi’s eldest son, Edgardo, balanced efficiency and craftsmanship to create products that replicated the quality of bespoke without the expense and wait time.  By 1939, the company employed over four hundred craftsmen and had grown into a full-fledged label, dubbed Lubiam, for Luigi Bianchi Mantova.

Vintage Lubiam Ad

From day one, Lubiam was a brand that had higher aspirations.  Not satisfied with remaining in Italy, they wanted to conquer the rest of the world.  Lubiam certainly wasn’t the only well-made Italian brand of that era, but where they really thrived was in their textures.  The brand’s textiles and construction gave  their unstructured sportcoats a feel that you simply couldn’t get anywhere else, and it was Lubiam’s goal to bring this to the rest of the world.  Starting in the fifties Lubiam set up showrooms, sponsored events, had their jackets and suits literred throughout magazines, and generally branded themselves as the paragon of relaxed Italian style.  Their efforts paid off and Lubiam gained notoriety worldwide, first in the states and then onto Asia and the rest of the world.

Vintage Lubiam Ad

Lubiam is now over a century old, which for many brands is simply a blank figure.  Far too many brands that have been around that long are now just shells of their former selves, having been bought and sold countless times.  But Lubiam certainly doesn’t fall into this category.  As a brand that’s in it’s fourth generation as a family owned company Lubiam has pulled off something nearly impossible in this day and age: they have kept the brand in their family for over a hundred years.  And not only that, but Lubiam hasn’t become complacent, they continue to push the envelope, bringing in new fabrics and patterns to create ingeniously beautiful garments.  Lubiam creates and we pay attention.

And if I seem biased towards the brand, it’s because quite frankly I am, but I have good reason to be.  In the modern era Lubiam has developed a new label, L.B.M. 1911 that makes sport coats in the same vein as Lubiam’s unstructured soft shoulder sport coats only more casual, and less expensive.  I personally own three L.B.M.’s and they’re without a doubt three of my favorite pieces.  Season after season I’m blown away by what Lubiam and L.B.M. are able to accomplish.  Their patterns, feel, and quality are unmatched by any other brand at their price point making Lubiam one the greatest, and smartest contemporary Italian brands.  So, over the next few weeks as we begin to get a taste of what Lubiam and L.B.M. have to offer at Pitti and beyond, go ahead and ogle at whatever unstructured gems they’ve got coming, but never forget Luigi, just a sixteen year old who wanted to make his family proud.

L.B.M. 1911 2012

L.B.M. 1911 2012

L.B.M. 1911 2012

L.B.M. 1911 2012

L.B.M. 1911 2012

L.B.M. 1911 2012

L.B.M. 1911 2012

Brioni Employees Outside on their U.S. Stores

As I’m sure most of you know by now, this Tuesday marks the start of Pitti Uomo 82, which means that everyone and their blogger will be turning their attention to Italy this week to see what’s next.  But before we all collectively look forward, I figured we should take some time and look back at a brand that forever changed the way American men look at Italian tailoring-Brioni.

Nazareno Fonticoli and Gaetano Savini

At the close of World War Two, tailor Nazareno Fonticoli and entrepreneur Gaetano Savini joined together in Rome to start Brioni, taking the name from a series of Croatian Islands that were once a vacation hotspot for Italian aristocrats.  It was their goal to tap into the American market to bring the Italian cut to the states, and for the two men, the timing couldn’t be better.  During World War Two as American G.I.’s traveled to Italy, they were able to get a taste of the nation’s rich culture, and it was Fonticoli and Savini’s intention to capitalize on the American’s newfound Italian interest by making their style more accessible in the states.

Early Brioni Company Photo

To do this the two men approached expanding and marketing Brioni in an unprecedented manner.  The first step in this plan was a fashion show, which might be the norm today, but for Brioni it was a revolutionary event.  In 1952 at the Palazzo Pitti in Florence, Brioni put on the world’s first fashion show to feature men, a spectacle that forever changed the way we receive collections and moved Brioni into the forefront of the Italian menswear scene.

Brioni Fashion Show in 1952

The next move for Fonticoli and Savini was American expansion.  In the mid fifties Brioni outposts opened up in New York and Los Angeles.  The brand had already built up quite a reputation thanks to their presentations, driving America’s style icons into the store to pick up some Brioni of their own.  While Clark Gable, Cary Grant, Rock Hudson, and countless other celebrities became some of the brand’s biggest customers, Brioni wasn’t just making progress on the coasts.  Department stores began to carry the brand nationwide, bringing Brioni’s Italian style to the masses.

Early Brioni

Which begs the question, why was Brioni so well received by the American public?  The answer first and foremost deals with the state of American tailoring at the time.  The boxy sack suit had prevailed as the end all be all of American style for decades, but it didn’t drape well, was a touch long, and had a conservatively high button stance.  As an American, it might be entirely sacrilegious for me to say and I’m sure I’ll catch some heat for it, but the sack suit just wasn’t that flattering.  On the other hand Brioni’s style (which was dubbed “the Continenta Cut”) was slimmer in the body, an inch shorter in length, had a low two button stance, and featured the signature Italian soft shoulder.  In contrast to a sack suit, Brioni’s garments created a much cleaner, form-fitting silhouette that generally just made most men look better.  Not to mention the fact that in the fifties and sixties movies such as Roman Holiday had popularized the Italian style that just looked so damn good on screen.

Brioni 1954

From the fifties on, Brioni was renowned for their ability to bring something fresh to the American people.  Not only in their cut, or presentations, but also in their patterns, colors, and details, which added an aesthetic that couldn’t be found in any American suiting up until that time.  While this penchant for innovation is what made Brioni instantly famous, it’s their craftsmanship that has always kept them at the top as one of Italy’s greatest brands.  Brioni really lead the way by taking the tradition of handmade Italian tailoring and making a larger business out of it.  To ensure the continuation of the craft for years to come, the company opened up a tailoring school in 1985 that offers a four year course on Italian tailoring.

Henry Fonda being fit by Nazareno Fonticoli

Over the past few years as the soft shoulder has returned to prominence, Brioni has been right there at the top, taking their now legendary continental cut and offering it in bold colors and patterns.  Despite their recent resurgence in popularity, it’s interesting to look back on Brioni and realize that they’ve been doing pretty much the same thing since they were first established in the forties.  Brioni will continue to build upon their heritage, experimenting as they see fit, allowing for trends to catch up to them not the other way around.

Nazareno Fonticoli cutting fabric in the Brioni factory

Pierce Brosnan being fit for a Brioni Suit, Brioni has outfitted both Brosnan and Daniel Craig for the most recent James Bond films

Brioni Spring Summer 2012

Brioni Spring Summer 2012

Brioni Spring Summer 2012

Brioni Spring Summer 2012

Brioni Spring Summer 2012

On Monday I mentioned that I didn’t think it was right to start the week out by writing about Brunello Cucinelli’s soccer team, but as the week wore on I figured why not round the week out by giving some love to A.S. Castel Rigone.  Founded in 1998 and located in the central Italian town where he was born, Cucinelli only owns the team, but plays with them several times a week.  The team and Cucinelli’s life long love of the game are a key part of the now famous philosophy that Cucinelli has used to guide his brand since it’s inception.  Tucked away in the middle of Italy, Cucinelli has gained notoriety not only for his world class cashmere, but also for his ability to run an incredibly successful business free from almost all conventional industry practices.  Cucinelli attributes his success to a belief system that advocates for enjoying life over everything else.  By balancing hard work with down time Cucinelli and his employees have thrived in both work and life for decades.  Which is where A.S. Castel Rigone comes in, a team that Cucinelli and his staff not only watch, but take part in as well.  Not to mention the fact that the team’s off the field outfits are Cucinelli suits, making them easily one of the best dressed soccer teams in the world.  I mean there’s a damn good reason why they all so happy in that team portrait.

Royal Engineers FC 1873

It’s hard to argue with the purity of soccer.  Two halves, ninety plus minutes, rabid fans, no pads, twenty two players.  There’s something about that stripped-down nature of the game that puts the emphasis on what’s in front of you.  There’s no frills, it’s just two teams and the moment.  Yet the game wasn’t always this clear cut or streamlined.

County Carlo FC 1900

Although soccer wasn’t always this orderly, initially it was just groups of friends that came together to play the emerging game.  During this period clubs didn’t have set uniforms which lead to mass confusion on all sides of the ball.  These players would wear either cricket shirts if they had them, or just throw on whatever they could piece together, and were separated into teams by small items such as hats or scarves.  As soccer went professional in England during the early 1870’s both spectators and the press called for some uniformity in the sport (sorry I had to.)  As soccer was largely an upper class sport, early jersey colors were mainly based on school or club colors.  For players that weren’t lucky enough to be on wealthy squads, they were left wearing plain white shirts, as the expense fell upon the team itself, not the individual players.

Southhampton FC 1927

This worked for a while, but it couldn’t keep up with the sport’s expansion, and pretty soon soccer outgrew this simplistic uniform system.  Around the start of the twentieth century clubs were becoming more legitimate,  and their uniforms followed suit.  Low quality soccer shirts were replaced with tough, slimmed down jerseys, and clubs began sporting full matching unifoms.  The details of the shirt were still largely up to the club itself, with many teams opting for laced crew necks (think Michael Bastian’s rugby shirt without the collar) and various stripes to make the players more noticeable.

Argentina National Team 1930

Professional soccer was shelved at the start of World War One, and when it returned after the war, the laced neck was gone, replaced by a straight collar with a v-neck.  Over the next several years teams continued to tweak colors and patterns to set their players apart.  In 1939, this ingenuity reached a new level as British teams began putting numbers on the back of their jerseys for the first time.  Unfortunately, just as this move was being made, World War Two began and it was over half a decade before numbered jerseys actually became prevalent on the field.  After the Second World War, the numbers and details that had become an integral part of British jerseys spread throughout Europe, allowing teams to create jerseys that represented their respective regions.

River Plate (Argentina) 1940’s

Around the mid twenty first century teams began experimenting with new materials, shifting away from cumbersome cottons to lighter synthetics that allowed for greater movement.  Long sleeve shirts were replaced by short sleeves, the v-neck was switched out for a crewneck, and the modern jersey shape was finalized.  During the next few decades, more technical materials were introduced, and sponsors began slapping their logos across the jerseys.  The jerseys of today are loud and in your face, covered in brash colors, big logos, and unmistakeable patterns.  While on the field jerseys shift further into becoming intense statement pieces for the players, the influence of more the traditional soccer jersey can still be seen in menswear today.  The long sleeved, striped cotton shirt can still be seen in many collections today, harkening back to the early English clubs and their primitive unis.

1950 U.S. National Team

Italian National Team 1982

Arsenal FC 2007-2009

Adolf (left) and Rudolph (right) Dassler

With the Euro Cup in full swing this week, I figured that it was only right to focus on the world’s game this week.  And while I could have written about this years uniforms, or the best dressed players, or even Cucinelli’s own soccer team, I thought that I should start with arguably the most important of all soccer related brands: Adidas.  When I started reading about the brand I anticipated I would find a straightforward story about a brand who’s best designs are also it’s oldest, but what I actually discovered was a complex story about two brothers, Nazi Germany, and not one, but two of the world’s most well-known sportswear companies.

Adi Dassler in the Adidas Factory

The Adidas group website lists the brand’s founding date as August 18, 1949, yet the real story actually begins over two decades earlier.  In 1924 brothers Rudolph (Rudi) and Adolf (Adi) Dassler were living in the small Bavarian town of Herzogenaurach.  Their father worked in a shoe factory, their mother worked a laundress, and the two brothers had just returned from World War One.  It was within these humble beginnings, that the younger brother Adi started making shoes in the backroom of his mother’s wash house.  Adi was soon joined by Rudi and the Dassler Brothers Shoe Factory was born.

Adi Dassler

The Dassler Brothers’ hand-sewn shoes were unlike any other athletic shoe on the market, and they quickly became an integral part of the European sports world.  Just four years after the company was starter their shoes could be seen on the feet of athletes in Amsterdam during the 1928 Olympics, furthering the Dassler’s success.  But their big break came in 1936 when the two brothers drove from Bavaria to Berlin to give Jesse Owens a pair of their shoes.  That year Owens won four gold medals while wearing the Dassler’s shoes and the company was propelled into the national spotlight.

Adi Dassler

Yet life in Germany was changing fast.  The Nazi party was rising to power and naturally the Dassler’s company, as a successful German brand became a part of the party’s propaganda machine.  Both Dassler brothers became members of the Nazi party (a fact that the Adidas and Puma websites clearly avoid) and their company began to change shape in the face of the impending World War.  Around this time the brothers, who had already been suffering through a strong bout of sibling rivalry, began to bitterly turn on each other.  Stories about the brothers range from simple snide comments all the way up to Rudi claiming that Adi reported him to the Allies as a Nazi, but one thing’s for sure, by the mid nineteen forties their relationship had soured entirely.

Adi Dassler

In 1947, Rudi had had enough, leaving the Dassler Brothers Shoe Factory to form his own brand, dubbed Ruda, a combination of Rudolph and Dassler, which was soon changed to be Puma, a name that sounded a bit more welcoming.  Which brings us up to August 18, 1949, the official start date for Adidas (which is as you have probably guessed a joining of Adolf and Dassler.)  After the companies split, Adi developed Adidas’ signature three stripe logo.  The stripes would guide the brand over the next few decades as Puma and Adidas competed fiercely for publicity.  Both companies would alternate outfitting teams and players with their shoes in attempts to win over the marketplace.  One year the German national team would wear Adidas, the next year they would wear Puma.  One race a runner would be wearing Puma, and just a few months later he would be running in Adidas.

Rudi Dassler

In the end, it wasn’t so much that Adi won, but more so that Rudi lost.  In the months leading up to the 1954 World Cup, Rudi got into an argument with the German coach, and as a result the German Team was sponsored by Adidas not Puma.  Germany went on to win that World Cup as every player wore black Adidas with the unmistakable three stripes running down the side.  From then on Adi and his shoes were unavoidable, as the brand not only became one of the leading athletic shoe companies in the world, but also crossed over into everyday wear as more and more people began wearing sneakers.

Adidas Samba

Today, both Adidas and Puma are still based in Herzogenaurach, although they are now publicly own companies.  Like a lot of major shoe brands, both company’s recent designs leave much to be desired in my opinion.  While their modern shoes are often over-designed and clunky (case in point the down right horrendous Adidas and Jeremy Scott collaboration) their classic, simpler designs still prevail as some of the world’s all-time greatest sneakers.  Shoes such as the Adidas Samba and the Puma Whirlwind have that clean and functional look that harkens back to the attitude that Adi and Rudi first had way back in the twenties when all they were trying to do was create a better sneaker.

Puma Whirlwind


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