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Dassler Brothers Shoe Factory

The Dassler Brothers Shoe Factory, spelt 'Gebruder Dassler Schuhfabrik' in German, was a forerunner to the Adidas and Puma sports companies. The Dassler brothers were Adolf "Adi" Dassler and Rudolf "Rudi" Dassler. In 1920, Adolf Dassler began a new career as a shoemaker; in humbling surroundings: his mother's laundry. Adolf primarily made leather sports shoes, and was soon getting orders and requests to make a new sports shoe.

Dassler Brothers Shoe Factory in it's early days, with the brothers standing outside of the factories front doors.

By 1923, Adolf Dassler was so convinced of his 'calling' that he planned to rent a factory, and persuaded his older brother Rudolf to become his business partner. It is generally believed that the brothers complimented each other: Adolf was viewed as a talented shoemaker, bordering on genius, and Rudolf was a sociable salesman who was capable of increasing sales and orders. From 1923-1925, the Dassler Brothers Shoe Factory was a small operation: employing in the region of ten employees, who could produce forty handmade shoes a day.

Two of the Dassler brothers best selling shoes were athletes spikes - used for sprinting events - and spiked football boots. Adolf Dassler would eventually patent (Deutsches Reichspatent: assigned from 1877 until 1945) some of his spike designs; Adolf co-developed shoe designs with Franz Mertz and Josef Waitzer. The Dassler brothers steadily grew their business throughout the 1920's and 1930's; eventually being able to purchase their own premises in the 1930's.

Their coming-of-age success was persuading bronze winning 100 metres sprinter Arthur Jonath to wear their spikes at the 1932 Olympic Games in Los Angeles. This would set in stone the Dassler brothers future business model: persuading leading athletes to use their footwear at the Olympic Games. The height of their success was persuading Jessie Owens to wear Dassler spikes whilst competing at the Berlin Olympic Games infront of Adolf Hitler in 1936.

The Dassler brothers had a 'falling out' in the 1940's - never to be reconciled. Both brothers were members of the Nazi Party in the 1930's and 1940's; but apparently had differing political views that led to a range of ongoing arguments. This came to a head, when the allies invaded Germany in 1945: Rudolf Dassler was accused - falsely - of being a member of the SS, and Rudolf believed his brother Adolf was the one that had informed the Americans.

In 1948, Rudolf Dassler founded Puma - originally named Ruda - and Adolf Dassler founded Adidas in 1949. The two brothers had factories in the same town, and their companies would compete against one another until the death of the brothers in the 1970's.