The Onitsuka Tiger brand, founded in 1949 in Japan, was born as a result of Kihachiro Onitsuka’s aspiration to uplift the spirit of the nation after the heavy war years. Believing in the power of sports to transform society, Onitsuka decided to create footwear that would help athletes reach the pinnacle of sports achievement.
Onitsuka operated on the principle of “the science of walking”: he analyzed athletes’ movements to create footwear that best suited their needs. The first shoe created by the brand was intended for basketball players. By implementing innovative technologies and materials into the footwear, Onitsuka Tiger became a significant player in the sports shoe market.
In 1964, at the Tokyo Olympics, Onitsuka Tiger supplied footwear for the Japanese national team, which was an important milestone in the history of the brand. Including various sports, the brand continued to expand its influence and disseminate its innovations.
That same year, Onitsuka Tiger and Nike became partners when Blue Ribbon Sports (later renamed to Nike) owner Phil Knight started importing Onitsuka Tiger shoes into the USA. This collaboration, which became a key moment in the history of both companies, significantly influenced the development of sports footwear.
Onitsuka Tiger’s significant involvement in the Olympic Games continued. At the 1968 Mexico City Olympics, Ethiopian long-distance runner Mamo Wolde won the marathon wearing Onitsuka Tiger shoes. This landmark moment confirmed the brand’s status as a leading sports footwear manufacturer.
Onitsuka Tiger is known for a number of unique models, including the Mexico 66, Corsair, and Tai-Chi, which have become symbols of the brand. These models, embodying Onitsuka Tiger’s innovations and quality, not only emphasized the individuality of the wearer, but also contributed to the development of footwear fashion.
The Onitsuka Tiger brand has had a significant influence on pop culture. The Mexico 66 sneakers became part of Bruce Lee’s image in the cult film “Game of Death”. Then, nearly 30 years later, the brand’s footwear appeared in “Kill Bill” with Uma Thurman, affirming Onitsuka Tiger’s cult status.
In the 2000s, the brand was relaunched, presenting Onitsuka Tiger in a new light. Initially focusing on sports shoes, the brand was able to successfully adapt to the demands of fashion and style, considering new trends and consumer preferences, and became a separate line for casual wear from ASICS. This relaunch emphasized the uniqueness and unsurpassed quality of the brand’s products, breathing new life into classic models and introducing new designs.
Onitsuka Tiger is not just a shoe brand. It’s a symbol of quality, innovation, and style, inspiring athletes and fashion enthusiasts all over the world.
Published by HOLR Magazine.