When it first released in 1969, the adidas Superstar was the first low-top basketball sneaker with an all-leather upper. It also had its signature rubber toe box. But the Superstar, in its current context, wouldn't hold its part in sneaker lore until the 1980s when hip-hop adopted it.
For Bobbito Garcia, who authored Where'd You Get Those? New York City's Sneaker Culture: 1960-1987, the Superstar was everywhere as early as 1980. "When I went to Brooklyn Tech in 1980, The Superstar had this sort of like omnipresence, where like the hard-rock cats had Shells. We didn’t even know they were called Superstars, they were just called Shell Toes," he said.
Now the world knows about the Superstar and its shell toe, and adidas is poised to to make sure the sneaker has a big year in 2015. The brand recently brought it back to its Made in France roots, but the sneaker's buzz was brought back thanks to Pharrell Williams, who signed a deal with adidas last year, showing off a rainbow spectrum of Superstars.
"One of our core values is creativity, and Pharrell is creative in everything he does. So us to partner with him makes sense," Kelly Olmstead, Sr. Director - Brand Communications adidas America, said. "He’s working on the Superstar this year and the idea of equality through diversity—equality in one shoe through diversity in 50 colors. That’s what he is about and it is really important to our brand, too."
The Stan Smith, that was a huge success for us, but the Superstar is one of the industry's best stories.
None of this could have happened, however, without the success of Run DMC's "My Adidas," which released in 1986. Before that moment, the Superstar's popularity was insulated to New York City and its style scene. "What 'My Adidas' did was bring the Shell to the rest of the world that wasn’t up on its impact in the late '70s and early '80s," Bobbito said.
And that's true. We spoke to Ed O.G. last year, who hails from Boston, and he said he started to wear adidas when he, "Heard “My Adidas” by Run DMC when it came out in 1986. It lasted for well over three or four years like it was brand new."
That was 29 years ago. Over that time period, the Superstar hasn't lost its appeal. As Bobbito said, "The Superstar has never taken a step back as far as people wearing them around the world. It's kind of freaky. Everything has its up and downs, but Superstars would remain constant."
Late last year, adidas celebrated the 45th anniversary of the Superstar and is looking to roll that success into this year. The brand was able to rebirth the Stan Smith in 2014, and consumers can expect bigger and better things for its shell-toed brethren. As Olmstead said, "The Stan Smith, that was a huge success for us, but the Superstar is one of the industry's best stories. So no question it's going to be the biggest story from adidas Originals this year."
She's also confirmed that there are big plans for the Superstar during All-Star Weekend in New York City this year. But one thing, certainly, would be even bigger for the Superstar—larger than any boutique's collaboration or press coverage—and that's Kanye West wearing the sneaker.
And Olmstead admittedly acknowledges how big that would be for adidas. "We’ve seen him wear the Boost and a lot of our silhouettes, and it will be great to see him in the Superstar, too," she said. "We’re looking forward to any collaboration with him, knowing how big of a force he is."
Whether Kanye wears the Superstar this year or not is a waiting game, but there are going to be more than enough opportunities for people to lace up their own pairs. Every time they do, they'll have a piece of history on their feet.