New Acquisition: Adidas Superstar by Chris Severn

The pair of retro adidas Superstars in original packaging, as customized for the BSM by their original designer, Chris Severn. Photo © Bata Shoe Museum.

The Bata Shoe Museum recently received a donation by the pioneer of the adidas Superstar, Chris Severn!

The Superstar was developed by Chris, Horst Dassler and a team of people at adidas after Chris realized the basketball shoe needed improvements. After some prototypes and releases of similar shoes in the 1950s and 1960s, the Superstar was launched in 1969 with some important features, making it one of the most worn shoes in basketball during that decade.

Image of Chris Severn, Horst Dassler and the Superstar.

The Superstar introduced features that no other basketball shoe had. First, it featured a high-cut heel counter to better support the wearer against sprained ankles and rubbing around the heel to prevent blisters.

The higher, more supportive heel counter was an important new safety feature. Photo © Bata Shoe Museum.

Second, the shoe introduced a padded tongue that distributed the pressure of the laces. The tongue allowed the shoe to be laced-up securely without reducing blood circulation to the foot.

Note the padded tongue of the Superstar. Photo © Bata Shoe Museum.

And third, a slightly raised heel, created by inserting a low wedge, gave more cushioning when the player landed after jump shots.

The materials were changed to increase length of wear and serviceability. The uppers were made of leather instead of canvas. The soles featured a new herringbone grip pattern and were made out of a rubber material that gave more traction.

The construction of the sole was improved by adding the iconic line of stitching at the top of the moulded rubber sole. The sole was now both glued and stitched, reducing the chance that the layers of the sole would come apart.

The leather uppers increased wear. The stitched-down moulded sole improved the reliability and longevity of the sole. Photo © Bata Shoe Museum.

The ‘shell’ toe was the last feature to be added. The rubber toe cap protects the wearer and can withstand heavy use during the game. If you have any questions about this new acquisition, let us know.

Suzanne Petersen, Collections Manager

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