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Why is Adidas so Popular In Russia?

The most beloved western brand in hearts of all ex-Soviets

Source: p32.com.ua

Russia – You have probably seen a lot of images (memes) that depict members of criminal subcultures in ex-USSR usually wearing fake “Adidas” clothing. In fact this trend has grown so much that today some promote these brands as being synonym for all Slavs, not just the Russians. All this is tied to a street criminal subculture called Gopniks. Still the question remains, why would Adidas looking attire, with stripes on the sides be so fashionable in Ex-Soviet republics? Several Reddit Russians explained the whole situation regarding popularity of Adidas.

The answer lies back during the 1980’s Moscow Olympics. The official sportswear for the Soviet team was made by Adidas (German branch). You can see on the picture below, they had no Adidas logo, just the stripes. That was because in a Communist & Socialist state such as USSR they didn’t allow capitalist brands to market themselves.

563366 24.07.1980 После вручения золотых медалей женской сборной команде СССР по гандболу. XXII летние Олимпийские игры (19 июля - 3 августа). Владимир Вяткин/РИА Новости
Soviet Handball Team / by Vladimir Vyatkin / wikimedia

However this brand hiding didn’t stop general Russian population to recognize the brand in question here was in fact Adidas due to their popular side stripes. This is how Adidas brand became relatively popular in ex-Soviet Republics by general public and validated by their famous athletes.

This Adidas craze was accepted by some, while others hated the capitalist brand:

“Тот, кто носит “Адидас”, завтра Родину продаст”

(The one who wears Adidas will sell the Motherland tomorrow)

One additional reason why it was so popular is because Communist states were closed to trade with Capitalist west, but trade was only open with other Socialist states such as China, Yugoslavia, Turkey, Caucasus and similar. Products were supplied for generally poor people that didn’t care if the product is authentic or not. They just wanted a Adidas brand on their cheap, comfortable and practical clothing such as tracksuits.

But why did the street criminals “Gopniks” start to wear it?

Gopnik in khrushchyovka / by Панкратов Володимир / wikimedia

Well, Gopniks started to wear Adidas in order to mimic prisoners. You see, in USSR tracksuits were usually worn by prisoners because prisons had no uniforms and some other firmer clothing wasn’t allowed. So Gopniks that loved to look like tough gangsters naturally also started to wear these tracksuits, mostly fake ones acquired from local street markets for pretty low prices.


More: Largest Gopnik Meeting in the World was Held in Prague, Czech Republic


With time passing they had their Sport stars wearing real Adidas gear and on the other side street criminals, prisoners and poor people wearing fake Adidas tracksuits as their prime choice of clothing. Thing is, today the whole trend is still expanding and now it’s crossing the Ex-Soviet Republics borders, it’s getting more popular over Europe and now it’s considered that all Slavs wear tracksuits making an impact on whole ethnic group in general.

Do you have Adidas tracksuit?

What do you think?

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Photo: by Jerzy Górecki (CC0 Public Domain)

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