What Puma and Adidas Have to Do With the Nazis

We love when fashion collides with seemingly non-related topics like history and politics. In today's chapter of hold-the-phone collisions we learn about the birth of sportswear companies Adidas and Puma, which began in WWII, and were founded by brothers Adolf (a.k.a. Adi) and Rudolf Dassler. See, they co-owned Dassler Brothers, an athletic shoe enterprise before they started feuding. Then Rudolf was forced to serve the German forces in Poland. Not only did this make him angry, but he believed his brother Adi had something to do with why he wound up there. So when the war ended, Rudolf told the Allies that Adi assisted the Nazi war effort. And they basically hated each other from them on.

Naturally, Rudolf broke off from Dassler and opened his own shoe store called Puma. Adi renamed his store Adidas. The whole town of Herzogenaurach got involved in the feud and sided with one shoe store or the other. Anyway, eventually the brothers realized if they wanted to sell more merchandise than the other, they'd need famous athletes to wear their stuff. This explains why the Olympics are the marketing circus they are these days. If you need a new read for the L-train, Dutch journalist Barbara Smit wrote a book about all this called Sneaker Wars: The Enemy Brothers Who Founded Adidas and Puma and the Family Feud .

Now go to a cocktail party and start a conversation. You're welcome.

Sneakers, Nazis, and a Family Feud [Business Wire via Jezebel]