adidas / November 2022

adidas Superstar Shoes: A History of Shell-Toe Style

Ever wondered how the adidas logos came to be? Discover the history of adidas logos and the purpose behind each design evolution, from 1949 until today.

How the adidas Superstar Changed The Game

Nothing symbolizes the intersection of streetwear style, sports and creativity more than the adidas Superstar—a sneaker so embedded in our culture that it is as relevant today as it was when it debuted as a basketball shoe over half a century ago. Since its original design in 1969, Superstar’s influence has expanded from the hardwood to every corner of the globe—breaking barriers while being unified by the iconic 3-Stripes. 
Also known as the shell-toe, the adidas Superstar has been the canvas for countless collaborations over the years—including the unmistakable fifteen-foot replica here at adidas Village in Portland, OR, welcoming visitors from around the world. 

Origins Of An Icon

The adidas Superstar was introduced to the public in 1970, debuting as a low-top basketball shoe with an upper made entirely of leather featuring the famous rubber shell toe. It gained the love of athletes for its next-level grip, lightweight flexibility and enhanced protection on the court. At one point, 75% of professional basketball players in the US wore Superstars. 
Hip hop culture was born over the next decade, and shell-toe shoes became inseparable from it. As the genre shifted from an underground artform to a mainstream movement, trailblazing artists made their loyalty to adidas loud and clear. A classic look evolved from wearing adidas Superstars laceless with the tongue pushed out—a style that lives to this day. 

Into The New Millennium

As fashion evolved throughout the 90s, the adidas Superstar remained a lifestyle staple across cultures everywhere—transcending the game to cement its place in sneaker history. 
Sneaker culture took another leap into the future in the early 2000s, when legendary streetwear brand BAPE released their own take on the adidas Superstar—resulting in what many see as one of the greatest collaborations ever, causing a frenzy upon its release in 2003. 
This set the stage for the sneaker’s 35th anniversary in 2005, when adidas gave friends from the music, art and fashion worlds the chance to create their own unique pair of Superstars—resulting in a 35-strong collection of shoes celebrating one of the world's most recognizable and ubiquitous fashion items.  

Looking To The Future

Since then, scores of trendsetters have left their mark on the world with unique interpretations of the adidas Superstar: 2015 saw the debut of Pharrell’s Supercolor collection, bringing the shoe back in a full range of 50 colors, as well as the introduction of the adidas Superstar II, updating the shoe with a more comfortable insole for everyday wear. 
Renowned fashion house Prada offered an artisan reinterpretation of the sneaker in 2019, and LEGO® linked up with the 3-Stripes in 2021 on a collection that included special adidas Superstar shoes and even a toy. Skateboarders like Mark Gonzales and Tyshawn Jones have also both been honored with their own unique pairs, showing the shoe’s continued influence in both sports and style. 

Larger Than Life

As a testament to Superstar’s influence, adidas commissioned the production of a fifteen-foot replica in 2008 for its Celebrate Originality campaign. A bicoastal collaboration, it stayed true to the 3-Stripes spirit: one massive sneaker was sent to artists in New York, NY, and the other to San Francisco, CA. The shoes were united for a showcase of the final work in Venice Beach, CA before finding their home at the adidas Village in Portland, OR. 
Like the sneakers they are based on, the adidas Superstar replica has been updated over the years to reflect the creativity channeled through the groundbreaking shell-toe shoe—including one design honoring the Superstar 80s, which had special details and a gold-plated lace lock. It continues to attract fans and visitors everywhere as a destination and centerpiece of sneakerhead culture 

An Enduring Legacy

Superstar by adidas Originals has continued to maintain its spot among collectives and gamechangers in several spheres—from skateboarding to runway fashion and beyond. Today, even more athletes, artists and everyday stars continue to make Superstar their own through style, color and design expressions that recognize the past while remaining distinctive in the present. Wearing a pair is a rallying cry for creativity—and a symbol for mavericks and visionaries who see a future they want to pioneer themselves.
adidas / November 2022