What do US sports, an octopus and a barefoot marathon Olympic champion chave to do with the brand Onitsuka Tiger? You can read about that below. One thing is worth mentioning beforehand, though: The Onitsuka Tiger sneaker stories are full of surprises and versatility.
A brand like Onitsuka Tiger with a lot of history and meaning, responsible for progress and innovation, driven by ambition, is rare.
For these reasons, we at Sneakerjagers have researched to present you the most important steps of the long success story around Kihachiro Onitsuka and to enlighten you how it finally became ASICS.
To make the story even more vivid and tangible, you should check out the current sneaker selection beforehand!
The story of the founding of Onitsuka
Post-war period. Japan. 5 years after the end of the Second World War, former smuggler Kihachiro Onitsuka, inspired by the increasingly popular US sports in Japan, sees his chance to reunite society.
Driven by the belief that sport can change lives, the goal is no less than to create the perfectly fitted sports shoe.
The story of the basketball shoe revolution
All beginnings are difficult. After the first attempts to design a basketball shoe that was perfectly adapted to the fast changes of direction and many jumps failed miserably, but a special order led to success:
During a meal, an octopus stuck to his salad bowl with its suckers. While trying to loosen it, Onitsuka-san had a brainwave! This adhesion was the solution to slippery basketball floors.
After several developments based on real-life testing and observation in collaboration with high school basketball teams, the 'OK BASKETBALL SHOE' and the Onitsuka brand became a cult.
The story of the development of the lightest running shoe of the time and its special wearer
As early as 1956, the popularity of Onitsuka sports shoes was so high that one model was selected as the official shoe for the 56 Olympics in Melbourne. Nevertheless, Ethiopian Abebe Bikila won the marathon and the gold medal not only without Onitsuka running shoes, but barefoot.
Driven by courage but also fear of doubting Onitsuka quality, Kihachiro promised to develop very light running shoes for the special runner and warned him about all the broken glass in Japan, a year after the Olympics and a day before the Japanese marathon would start.
Abebe Biklia eventually won in Onitsuka Tigers and never ran another marathon without shoes.
The story of the famous Tiger Stripe
In the wake of the 1968 Olympic Games, the sports shoe manufacturer developed the famous Tiger Stripe on a mass-market Onitsuka shoe for the first time with the 'LIMBER UP KAWA BK'.
Today, the cult sneaker is called Mexico 66 and is still very popular. The trademark still makes it onto (almost) all Onitsuka & ASICS models.
The story behind the development of ASICS
In the 70s, the company recognised the potential of producing textile collections in addition to sports shoes, in order to have a larger product range and to be able to produce national jerseys, for example.
Onitsuka then teamed up with GTO (sportswear manufacturer) and Jelenk (knitwear manufacturer) to create ASICS. The acroym stands for the following Latin proverb:
Anima Sana In Corpore Sano
(a healthy mind in a healthy body)
This fulfilled the dream of Onitsuka's founder to produce high-quality clothing for all areas of sport.
In celebration of the Japanese brand's iconic backstory with shops and retailers all over the world, here are Sneakerjagers favourite Onitsuka picks:
Sneakerjagers Faves: Onitsuka Tiger
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