These days, when cool clothes brands collaborate with other cool clothes brands, they always do a little ‘x’, like ‘Supreme x North Face’, because – err – that’s what cool clothes brands do. You’ve probably never seen an ‘Adidas x Puma’ logo though, and that’s for a good reason. They may have started from the same bloodline, but ever since their inception their relationship has been less ‘blood brothers’ and more ‘bloodthirsty brothers’.
Both companies emerged from the Dassler family. Adi Dassler (no prizes for guessing which brand he founded) and Rudi Dassler fell-out over unknown family difficulties, and separated into Puma and Adidas, on separate sides of the river Aurach in Herzogenaurach, Germany. Sixty years on, and the brands’ headquarters still remain just a few miles apart. There’s a whole lot of rumours about why the rivalry came about; ranging from who was the more loyal Nazi to a possible affair (Rudi x Adi’s wife).
The town is defined by this famous rivalry; as the local Heritage Association head Klaus-Peter Gabelein said in an interview with the Guardian, ‘there was a time when you’d have risked the wrath of colleagues and family if as an employee of one company, you married the employee of the other’. Essentially, it was a kind of Romeo and Juliet; but with shoes instead of civil brawls.
Adidas, though, must be seen as having won this brawl. Sure, Puma have Usain Bolt and the Italian football team under their belt. But it’s Adidas who have shaped modern street fashion in the UK to far greater heights. It’s a pretty rare sight to see a Puma track jacket or sweatshirt; but Adidas equivalents are more worn than an old weathered leather boot. Although Puma have some success in terms of footwear (Rihanna’s Fenty Puma Creepers just won shoe of the year), their suede casual shoes are no match to a cracking pair of Gazelles or Sambas.
It’s pretty clear that at least for our generation, Adidas will reign supreme, and a collaboration between the two companies sure ain’t gonna happen. For now, we can only dream of the three stripes being printed onto a wavy yellow and green Puma jacket…