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Brief Published: 8 Apr 2015

Heritage Power: Adidas Exhibits Superstar History

German sportswear giant Adidas has opened a pop-up store in the fashionable Gangnam district of Seoul, South Korea to mark the return of its seminal Superstar sneaker. Designed and built by South Korean architects Urbantainer, the space houses the Superstar Hall of Fame – an exhibition that explores the history of the shoe through the pop-culture movements it played a key role in.

The exhibition space is structured around key themes that relate to the sneaker’s history, including an exploration of the influence of basketball in an area dubbed Hardwoods & Backboards, and international celebrity culture in another titled Superstar in Superstar. Visitors are also guided through four other themes – Music & Culture Connection, Art in Superstar, A Collaborative Approach and Fashion in Superstar.

The store’s inner court is surrounded by a mesh fence, referencing a street basketball court in the 70s – the decade the shoe made its debut – while the retail area evokes the raw charm of an American inner-city garage, replete with heavy metal shutters and steel rods displaying product.

Additionally, music videos of performers connected with the sneaker are played alongside cases displaying the fruits of collaborative projects with both international and Korean designers and celebrities. Graffiti slogans, including the central message: ‘Superstar is not what you think it is’, highlight the heritage of the trainer, which owes more of its success to streetwear and urban music culture than sports.

The Superstar Hall of Fame is open until April 19. 

For more on how to leverage cultural brand narratives, see Monetising Brand Heritage21st-Century Archives: Wising Up to the Heritage Economy, and Mall Museums: Luxury Retrospectives. For more on sneakerhead culture, see our blog posts Foot Locker Approved, Flight 23 (New Store Openings: NYC Feb 2014), and Sneakerboy.

For more on the rise of innovative retail from streetwear brands and athleisure (the booming hybrid sector melding fashion and sportswear), see Retail Resale: Air JordanSports-Luxe: Kith x SnarkitectureArt Basel Miami 2014: Branded SpacesElement Shop Soaks Up Skate Culture, House of Vans: London and The Future of Athleisurewear. Also look out for our upcoming report, Athleisure Engagement Strategies, publishing mid-April. For more on the reciprocal value of music in retail mergers, see Music Meets Retail: New Industry Alliances.