Superstar is a basketball shoe manufactured by athletic goods company adidas since 1969, released as a low top version of the Pro Model basketball shoe. Nicknamed the "shelltoe", "shell shoes" or "shell tops" for its rubber shell toe piece, its iconic design is known for being one of the major influences in the sneaker culture.
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When the shoe was introduced, it was the first low-top basketball shoe to feature an all-leather upper and the now famous rubber shelltoe. With its rubber toe protection and non-marking sole, the shoe caught the attention of some of the best players from the NCAA and NBA, most notably Kareem Abdul Jabbar. Within the first few years of its introduction, the Superstar was being worn by over 75% of all NBA players; proof of its revolutionary technology which remains relevant today. Over the course of the next few years, it would advance from the court to the sidewalk and, consequently, further into the public's consciousness.
In 1983, straight out of Hollis, Queens, came Run-D.M.C., a rap group that refused to conform to pop standards by deciding that they would dress on stage the way they dressed on the streets. The trio was most notable for wearing the Superstars without any laces and pushing the tongue of the shoe out, imitating the fashion inside a prison. The Superstar received a lot of promotion from the rap group as they went out on tours across the US, increasing adidas' sales on the Superstar shoe. Responding to an anti-sneaker rap song by Jerrald Deas called "Felon Sneakers", the trio released a song of their own called "My adidas" in 1986. The song paid tribute to the Superstar shoe, and attempted to flip the stereotype of the b-boy. adidas eventually signed a deal with the rap group for 1 million dollars after realising how much promotion their product received from the trio. The deal made between Run-D.M.C. and adidas was the first endorsement deal between hip-hop artists and a major corporation, and a Run-D.M.C. line of clothing from adidas was subsequently released.
No longer a performance basketball shoe, the Superstar shoes have become part of popular fashion culture and have become popular as casual footwear due to their all leather upper and wide variety of styles and colors. The Superstars, like the Converse Chuck Taylor All-Stars, easily made the transition from the basketball court to street as it was sported by hip-hop aficionados. In the late 1980s, b-boys wore the shoes with extra thick laces called "fat laces", usually matching the colour of the laces with the colour of the three stripes on their shoe.
The Superstars are now being sold in adidas stores, with brand new colorways and designs that are tailored to the different NBA teams.