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Onitsuka Tiger (co-branded as Asics Tiger since 2022) is a Japanese sports fashion brand started in 1949 by Onitsuka Shōkai (鬼塚商会, Onitsuka Co., Ltd), a sports shoes company founded by Kihachiro Onitsuka. Onitsuka Shōkai changed its name several times before becoming Asics Corporation in 1977. Since 1977, Onitsuka Tiger has been sold as a lifestyle brand of Asics.
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Onitsuka Tiger's first product was a basketball shoe resembling a straw sandal. The shoe was a failure, and Onitsuka returned to the design stage to focus on the way basketball players started and stopped on the floor. By adding cups and small spaces in the soles of his basketball shoes, Onitsuka made a more effective shoe in 1952 which soon became popular throughout Japan. In 1955, the company increased its business to 500 sports shops across Japan.
Onitsuka Tiger worked with marathon runner Toru Terasawa in 1953 to develop a running shoe that would keep long distance runners from developing blisters. Ethiopian runner Abebe Bikila started wearing Onitsuka Tiger shoes in 1957, the first time in his running career he had ever worn shoes, convinced by Onitsuka that they would be superior to his barefoot style. The shoes were also worn in 1958 by short-distance runner Oliver Skilton when he won bronze in the Continental European games. In 1959, the sneakers brand launched the Magic Runner with improved technology on ventilation to prevent blisters and build comfort.
In the late 1950s, University of Oregon middle-distance runner Philip Knight was coached by Bill Bowerman, one of the top coaches in the US. Bowerman was also known for experimenting with the design of running shoes to make them lighter and more shock-absorbent. After attending Oregon, Knight continued his studies at Stanford University, where he wrote his MBA thesis on the marketing of athletic shoes. After receiving his degree, Knight travelled to Japan where he contacted Onitsuka Tiger Co. Ltd, and convinced the company that their product had a market in the US. In 1963, Knight received his first shipment of Tiger shoes, and later he and Bowerman invested $500 each to form Blue Ribbon Sports (later known as Nike, Inc.).
In 1964, Onitsuka listed the company on the Kobe Stock Exchange and later on the exchanges of Osaka and Tokyo. Onitsuka launched its "Olympic Line" after years of gathering suggestions from top athletes. This series marked the introduction of the Asics trademark design of two vertical lines intersecting a pair of lines emanating from the heel of the shoe, said to provide reinforcement as well as decoration. The first shoes to feature the Tiger Stripes were the Mexico 66 model, introduced two years before the 1968 Olympic Games in Mexico City.
In 1968, Blue Ribbon Sports started importing Onitsuka to the American market, including the TG-4 "Marathons", with nylon uppers and flat rubber soles, and their training shoe, the "Cortez", with an all-leather white upper and thickly padded soles. They also had an all-around exercise shoe called the "Bangkok" and racing spikes. Blue Ribbon Sports had their first store on the East Coast in Wellesley Hills, Massachusetts, which was very near the Boston Marathon route. Jeff Johnson was the manager, and he would attend many AAU meets, as well as high school cross country races, where he would be commonly seen selling his Onitsuka brand shoes from the trunk of his red Austin-Healey 3000 sports car.
In 1977, all sports brands of the company were merged into the brand Asics. In 1976, Finnish runner Lasse Virén won both the 5,000 and 10,000 meters at the 1976 Summer Olympics in Montreal while wearing Onitsuka Tigers, after having worn Adidas while winning those events in the 1972 Olympics. Today, the company is still known as Asics and provides shoes to retailers around the globe.
Since Onitsuka Tiger was incorporated in 1949, shoes have been created for football, running, martial arts, basketball, cheerleading, volleyball, cross-training, track and field, wrestling, golf, cricket, fencing, and tennis. The most famous brand of Onitsuka Tiger shoes is the striped Mexico 66 Line.
Asics still sells vintage style Onitsuka Tiger shoes, including the Mexico 66. The Asics acronym stands for "Anima Sana in Corpore Sano" or "A Healthy Soul in a Healthy Body", an adaptation of the ancient aphorism from Roman poet Juvenal, "Mens sana in corpore sano". In Asics' portfolio, the Asics brand is oriented towards sports performance, while the Onitsuka Tiger brand is imprinted in the casual sneaker fashion.
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It was in the later part of December last year that the Onitsuka Tiger Page on Facebook appeared in my News Feed and I found out that the famous Japanese sneakers brand had re-created my first ASICS Running Shoes in the early 80s as their California 78 Model (and later as Ultimate 81 Model) which was their new model for the year-end season. The following day, I tried to recall where I stored those old Onitsuka Tiger sneakers that I bought few years ago in the US which had been with me for the past 15-20 years. I was able to bring out two pairs of them, one for trail running and another one is a complete replica/copy of the GT model that was very popular as cushioned running shoes of ASICS with the popular Red and Blue Logo of the brand. I found out that I had these two shoes repaired by stitching the sole with the uppers by a local shoe repair guy making them more durable in the coming years of use. I consider them as my Vintage Collection of Onitsuka Tiger Sneakers.
By wearing these two classic shoes, I thought I was brought back to those years that I was starting to be a runner and being a competitive marathon runner in late 70s and early 80s. Although, I could only muster to have a best time of 17+minutes of 5K; 45-minute plus in 10K; 1:30+hours in half-marathon; and 3:30+hours of Marathon, I did not have any dream then of becoming a faster runner because of my work then in the military service. But at the back of my mind, I tried and failed to reach the qualifying times for my age in the prestigious Boston Marathon. The ASICS shoes and the Brand Logo of Red and Blue stripes were symbols of durability and comfort to all the runners then which I think up to these days are being maintained by the company.
Not being able to wait to make a trip to Japan this year, I decided to buy a Leather Shoes Made In Japan (Nippon Made) of Mexico 66 Model at the OT Shangrila Store before I left for the Boston Marathon last April. The price is more expensive than buying this particular model in Japan but I promised myself that this will be my last pair of OT. I have lost count in the number of pairs that I bought before I had this pair that is Made In Japan (Nippon Made). Most the shoes being sold in the local market are Made In Vietnam but they have the same comfort and durability that the brand is known for.
The leather Made In Japan shoes that I bought is already my favorite shoes for my casual wear most specially if I am wearing my Red Pants. I used it during my trip in USA & Italy and I found them very comfortable and classy. I will be using them again in my next trips to Europe and the United States.
The Japanese heritage brand Onitsuka Tiger was founded in 1949 as an athletic-shoe company, first making basketball sneakers and then shoes for everything from running to martial arts. Now, thanks to a new designer with a global vision, Andrea Pompilio, the label is set to make its mark in American fashion with clothing and accessories as well. Here are four things you need to know about Onitsuka Tiger, along with our favorite looks from the Spring-Summer 2020 collection.
Tiger Woods didn't wear the iconic Nike swoosh on his feet when he stepped onto the course Sunday at Augusta National Golf Club in Georgia. Instead, Woods was spotted wearing a pair of black FootJoy Premiere Series-Packard golf shoes.
Woods, who turned pro in 1996, has been affiliated with Nike throughout his career. He even has his own pair of golf shoes with the sneaker giant, Nike Air Zoom Tiger Woods. To be sure, on Sunday he was still wearing the swoosh logo embellished on his coral-colored polo shirt. 041b061a72