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Adidas vs. Puma: A History of Two Brothers

How a feud between two German siblings changed the shoe industry
Adolf+and+Rudolf+Dassler
Adolf and Rudolf Dassler

Puma and Adidas are both monstrous clothing and shoe brands that are recognizable wherever you go in the world today in the 21st century. It almost seems as if Puma and Adidas are related in some way. One might speculate that, if these two brands transformed into people…they would look eerily similar.

However, it may surprise you to know that Puma and Adidas are actually related companies after all! 

Well, the truth is that Puma was founded by a man called Rudolf Dassler, and Rudolf had a brother named Adolf who also created his own brand called Adidas. Puma and Adidas are brothers! 

Unfortunately, somewhere down the line of business, the Dassler brothers didn’t see eye-to-eye, and that led to the separation of their companies. This caused both brothers to go out on their own to seek success for their own brands.

According to Business Insider, Adolf Dassler established the brand Adidas, only a year after his sibling, Rudolf Dassler, made the soon-to-be-rival brand, Puma. The two incredibly famous brands can be followed back to a now amazing family argument. Without said argument, neither Puma or Adidas would exist today. 

Initially, the siblings cooperated on two-striped shoes and, in 1919, the team established Gebrüder Dassler, (Geda for short). The 1936 Olympics came around and became a huge breakthrough for the Dassler brothers, as the German athletes wore their clothing line, resulting in a huge boost in sales. Things were going great between the Dassler brothers.

Then World War II started.

Regardless of the prosperity they found in working with one another, pressures between the siblings developed and the tension was clear. Both Rudolf’s and Adolf’s wives hated each other. Things deteriorated from that point forward. There were different occurrences that drove the two brothers further and further from one another. 

During an Allied bombing during the war, Rudolf and his significant other were sitting in a bomb shelter. At the point, when Adolf and his wife showed up, he made a distasteful statement about the town getting bombarded once more. Rudolf evidently mixed up his brother’s remark as an individual assault against him and his character.

Furthermore, according to Vintage Sports, the Dassler brothers seemed to follow separate paths due to simple circumstances. Rudolf was drafted for the war and served his time on the frontlines of the battle. On the other hand, the German government had deemed Adolf’s usefulness as a shoemaker as more necessary, and so he was not sent to fight for Germany. Rudolf was very angry about this and saw it as his brother making money and selling shoes, while he was on the frontlines with his life on the line.

After the war ended in 1945, the Allies wanted to take revenge on the remaining Nazi soldiers. This meant that Rudolf had to plead his case to the authorities. His brother Adolf snitched on him that he was working with the Nazis, and this caused Rudolf to be imprisoned for another year, while Adolf was making profits. Rudolf tried to snitch on his brother as well, but Adolf’s charges were dropped. This essentially ended the relationship between the Dassler brothers.

By 1948, the Dassler brother partnership was over. The tensions caused by the war and the betrayal were too much for either brother to handle. The negotiations had started for the company and they started the division process. Earnings, employees, and equipment were all split between the two brothers, and both went their separate ways and never spoke to each other again.

In 1957, Puma was born. Later, Adolf started his own shoe company, naming it after himself. He took the letters from his nickname Adi, and the first three letters of his last name Dassler, to create Adidas. Both brothers continued to stay at each other’s throats in the way of business disagreements, which were all rooted in the coincidences and misunderstandings from years prior.

The story of the Dassler brother is a very interesting one about how a relationship between two business partners can go south through various ways. The talent of the Dassler brothers was unmistakably undeniable, and one has to credit both Rudolf and Adolf Dassler for their hard work and dedication. 

But one has to wonder if the separation of the Dassler brothers was the best decision for the fashion industry. Had the brothers not separated, Adidas and Puma might not be where they are today! Both brands were formed by a bitter rivalry, and that led to both brands thriving respectively.

About the Contributor
Lamont Rostamloo
Lamont Rostamloo, Staff Writer
Lamont is a senior at Glendale High School. He is a member of the GTA 5 Finance and Felony Club, and he is a member of Mr. Foster's Construction class. He enjoys making phone calls, driving, and playing video games.
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