How to tell if Adidas is vintage


How to tell if Adidas is vintage

From its humble beginnings as a cobbler and shoe designer, Adidas caught it’s break when it provided the kits for the winning German world cup team in what was dubbed the “miracle of Berlin” in 1954. After this monumental moment, the legendary sportswear was firmly set on a path to become the titan we all know and love today!

1954 World Cup Final - The Miracle of Berlin - Sponsored by Adidas

Whilst Adidas quickly became the go to sportswear provider all over the globe, it wasn’t until the early 80s that Adidas was adopted as a fashionable brand. Picked up by football fans in the UK known as ‘casuals’, wearing Adidas became a status symbol. From here on one subculture to the next adopted different Adidas products and made them an integral part of their identity. The football ‘casuals’ of the early 80s kicked it off by adopting Adidas trainers, then hip hop fans and groups like Run DMC began wearing full Adidas tracksuits. Artists and designers like Kanye West have since elevated the brand to new heights, combining the notion of sportswear with high fashion and art.

Considering the strong lineage and close ties to some of popular cultures finest moments from the last 30 years, it will come as no surprise that vintage Adidas is beloved by all. But working out what’s vintage and what’s new isn’t always as easy as it seems. The last thing any of us want to do is suffer the indignity of letting a rare vintage Adidas piece slip through your fingers, so read on and study up, here’s how to tell if Adidas is vintage using the logo, the tags and the design and fit.

How to tell if Adidas is vintage from the logo

Adidas has always used its logo as a mark of quality and prestige. The three stripes of Adidas have endured since the very beginning, albeit in different forms. They represent the three major landmasses where shoes made by Adidas were sold – Europe, America and Asia. Another feature that has stuck around is the use of the brand name Adidas in the logo (always in lower case and always using the font ITC Avant Garde). What has changed over the years is the symbol used in the logo, and this can give us some clues about how vintage your Adidas is.

The Trefoil Logo

Adidas Trefoil Logo 1971 - OneOff Vintage

  • This logo began being used in 1971
  • It was launched in conjunction with its first apparel line
  • The Trefoil logo helped Adidas take a foothold in popular culture with music stars such as The Doors, David Bowie, Bob Marley, The Sex Pistols and more sporting the logo on occasion
  • This logo is used in some modern designs as part of the Adidas Originals line, which means just because an item of clothing has the Trefoil, doesn’t guarantee that its from the 70s or 80s, but all Adidas sportswear and apparel from the 70s and 80s would have had this logo (how’s that for a fashionable riddle)

The Mountain Logo

Adidas Mountain Logo 1991 - OneOff Vintage

  • This logo began being used in 1991
  • Maintaining the three stripes, the Mountain slanted them in reference to the way they looked on Adidas shoes
  • The mountain shape was designed as a symbol of something to overcome
  • Nowadays this logo is used in Adidas’ Performance line

The Neo Logo

Adidas Neo Logo 2002 - OneOff Vintage

  • This logo began being used in 2002
  • The design could be likened to an animal scratch
  • The Neo logo is used on the Adidas Style products to this day

The Word Mark Logo

Adidas Word Mark Logo 2005 - OneOff Vintage

  • This logo began being used in 2005
  • A real throwback, this logo harks back in a simplified way on the classic brand image of the three stripes
  • The Word Mark is very broad and is used across all of Adidas’ different product lines as a result

Adidas logos through the years

Vintage Adidas logos through the years - OneOff Vintage

How to tell if Adidas is vintage from the tags

As with most brands, the neck tags are an excellent point of call for establishing how old an Adidas piece is. Unfortunately, the exact dates of when certain tags are used and what they are used for is somewhat of a secret and very little information is provided by Adidas themselves. The reason for this is to deter counterfeiters and it’s a pretty understandable reason, but it makes life for us vintage lovers quite difficult when it comes to dating vintage Adidas. Particularly for pinning down exact dates. But what we can do is cobble together our own experience and information from the community of Adidas enthusiasts to give some rough estimations as to which tags are from which period in time.

Early to Mid 1980s

Early to Mid 1980s Adidas Tags

  • The tags from this time were often a light, thin polyester material which included sizing in a variety of different country codes as can be seen on the left and middle tags
  • Both the left tags include the Adidas typeface and the Trefoil at the top of the tag, with sizing details below
  • The tag on the right is from the Adidas Olympic collection
  • The Adidas Olympics clothing is some of the most desirable and rare vintage Adidas about, and this silver tag is the mark of a truly rare vintage piece

Mid to Late 1980s

Mid to Late 1980s Adidas Tags

  • Tags from this era tended to be higher quality, using a thicker shiny silver material
  • They often do not include sizing information
  • The sizing information is often included on the wash tags by the waist on Adidas items from this time
  • The thin rectangular tag on the left is the older of the two
  • The square tag on the right was used throughout the late 80s and even into the early 90s
  • Tags with the product codes beginning with F1 are often referred to as F1 tags in the vintage community and are a sign of truly vintage Adidas

Early to Mid 1990s

Early to Mid 1990s Adidas Tags

  • Tags from this time stopped using the Trefoil symbol and instead opted for just the Adidas typeface
  • 1991 saw the introduction of another highly sought-after Adidas line, the Adidas Equipment line
  • Notably the Mountain logo was nearly always used on Adidas Equipment clothing or shoes, but was not used on Adidas tags until later
  • The two tags on the left are examples of early Adidas Equipment tags used in the early 90s
  • The tags in the middle are from mid 1990s, the thin one on the top being the slightly older of the two
  • The white tag on the right is also from the mid 1990s
  • Notice how nearly all the tags here include a product code that begins with F1, reaffirming their vintage status

Mid to Late 1990s

Mid to Late 1990s

  • The Mountain logo was introduced onto the neck tags at this time
  • Between the two tags on the left small differences like the boldness of the font can be seen
  • These tags were most prominent in the mid 1990s
  • The middle right Adidas Equipment tag was introduced at the end of the 1990s
  • The far right black Adidas tag is from the late 1990s and has the wash tag directly behind it

Early 2000s

Early 2000s Adidas Tags

  • The Trefoil logo made its big return in the early 2000s
  • The tag alternated between black and white depending on the colour of the item it was one

Mid 2000s

Mid 2000s Adidas Tags

  • The mid 2000s saw the Mountain logo once again take pole position
  • These tags include sizing in a variety of different country codes

Adidas tags through the years

Vintage Adidas tags through the years - OneOff Vintage

How to tell if Adidas is vintage from the design and fit

Early Adidas apparel in the 1970s and early 1980s tended to come in bright, bold colours. Their breakthrough apparel was the full vintage tracksuit and inspired by the aerobics movement at the time the tracksuits and apparel were often quite tight and form fitting. These tracksuits used a big Trefoil on the chest with the Adidas typeface below it. As the 1980s progressed, Adidas moved into baggier fits and would use eye catching geometric patterns. The chest logo moved to a smaller Trefoil with the Adidas typeface by its side. They are probably best remembered from this time for helping popularise the shell suit but also released some of the coolest vintage t-shirts, sweatshirts, polos and sports star inspired clothes such as their tennis lines.

Vintage Adidas Design & Fit

They maintained the loose-fitting nature of their clothes throughout the 1990s but began to use toned down colours and simpler designs that focussed more on their new Mountain logo. The 2000s saw a new shape of clothing emerging. Whilst the loose fit on the body remained, sleeves got shorter on t-shirt and polos and more form fitting on the arms with sweatshirts, jackets and track jackets.

Vintage Adidas Design & Fit

If you want a more detailed guide on how vintage Adidas fits, checkout our comprehensive guide on this by clicking here.

Figuring out when your favourite vintage Adidas piece is from has always been a tricky business, but hopefully this guide has shed some light on the situation. So burst into the world with this new information ready to conquer all Adidas queries that come before you!


For more fashion news and updates, stay tuned to OneOff Vintage.

Also, our collection of vintage Adidas is packed to the rafters with both the latest and greatest the three stripe brand has to offer. We usually stock a mix of Nike, Ralph Lauren, Adidas, Tommy Hilfiger and much much more.


  • Posted on by Kathleen d Wallace
    Wow! Awesome article I absolutely love Addias sneakers for me and casual wear for my son. I didn’t know about the logo! It’ll help me in my vintage hunting!
  • Posted on by Mel

    I like that the logos of a lot of lines change over the years, it makes it easier to hunt down vintage threads. The problem I have had though (with Adidas as well as other brands) is they will sometimes release “vintage lines” that are new but use the same logos or styles but not actually be real vintage. This has been helpful though! I am going to save this page for the next time I am shopping around for Adidas brand items.

  • Posted on by Jasmine Hewitt
    I didn’t even realize Adidas changed their logo so much until I read this!

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