Russian criminal subculture, known as Gopniki (Gopniks or Gopniki in Russian, plural of Gopnik), has own fashion preferences which often include Adidas tracksuits and dress shoes.
The obsession with Adidas originates with 1980 Moscow Olympics. Sportswear for the Soviet team was manufactured by the German company Adidas. However, the USSR Communist party leaders forbid to put the labels of the capitalist company on tracksuits of Soviet athletes. Traditional three stripes were limited to one red. The dress shoes preserved its stripes, since the stripes resembled the letter “M”, stressing that the Olympics were taking place in Moscow.Although the company name did not appear on clothing, sneakers and tracksuits Adidas become wildly popular in USSR. Since then, it became THE sports wear label.
Adidas sneakers were all the rage during the Olympics-80. Some wanted to get them, others hated. One popular saying of that time was “Тот, кто носит “Адидас”, завтра Родину продаст” (The one who wears Adidas will sell the Motherland tomorrow).
During the Soviet times Russians had very limited exposure to Western fashion. Everything foreign became cool so everything Soviet was uncool. Then suddenly in 90s cheap counterfeit clothing, mostly from China, Turkey and Caucasus filled the market. People were generally poor and had little idea about Western fashion norms, so they went for cheap, comfortable and practical clothes, which often meant track suits.
Track suits were and still are commonly worn by prisoners because they are comfortable, there are/were no prison uniforms available, different clothes weren’t allowed. Gopniks, being gangster wannabees, took it from there.
During 90ties, the mafia recruited wrestlers and lifters who had finished their sports career, to be enforcers and muscle. These people had access to “western” clothes from their trips abroad, so they walked around in them to show off. Sports clothes came represent authority and power.
In modern Russia, the Adidas brand is famous because of the street guys (gopniks). Simply because, Adidas tracksuits are often faked and sold cheaply so they are affordable for the lower class society.
– via reddit.