PUMA’s History of Innovation in Style, Basketball and Beyond

How a falling out between brothers birthed one of the world’s most iconic sportswear brands.

WRITER: CHRIS DANFORTH
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The story of PUMA begins with Gebrüder Dassler Schuhfabrik, a sibling-owned business founded by Adolf and Rudolf Dasler in 1924 near Herzogenaurach, Germany. The Dassler brothers’ earliest products were handmade track-and-field spikes, the likes of which were famously worn by Jesse Owens at the 1936 Summer Olympics in Berlin, an event that saw Owens win four gold medals and bring international renown to the Gebrüder Dassler Schuhfabrik.

The brothers experienced a falling out during World War II and in 1948 the two famously parted ways. Adolf started his own company, combining his nickname, “Adi,” with the first three letters of his last name, “Das,” to establish adidas. Rudolf’s company used a similar approach, launching "Ruda," a portmanteau of "Ru" from Rudolf and "Da" from Dassler. A few months later, Rudolf changed his company’s name to Puma Schuhfabrik Rudolf Dassler.

Well connected from his days at the Gebrüder Dassler Schuhfabrik, Rudolf supplied football boots for the very first international football match following the war in 1948, when several members of the West German national football team wore PUMA boots, including the scorer of West Germany's first post-war goal, Herbert Burdenski. In 1952, PUMA created the SUPER ATOM, the world’s first boot with screw-in studs, an innovation that remains standard among professional football boots today. Toward the end of the decade, PUMA patented the Formstrip, a logo and design feature that is as recognizable as the brand’s leaping cat insignia.

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