In 2009 Onitsuka Tiger celebrates it’s 60th Anniversary. Technical expertise and groundbreaking research of yester-year has become true Japanese design beauty of today. Reintroducing footwear from their back catalogue, Onitsuka Tiger really is the sports heritage brand for those who know their sneaker history.
In 1949 Mr Kihachiro Onitsuka founded Onitsuka Tiger, the forerunner to the ASICS performance brand.
Mr Onitsuka believed that, through sport, he could help the youth of Japan recover from the devastation of the second world war and re-inspire a new generation of youth.
Mr Onitsuka lived passionately by his philosophy of creating ‘A sound mind in a sound body’ and when Onitsuka Tiger changed to ASICS in the late 70’s, that’s exactly what ASICS stands for. Anima Sana In Corpore Sano.
When first starting out in humble surroundings in Kobe, Mr Onitsuka found inspiration in some unlikely places. An octopus tentacle stuck to the bottom of his bowl of Japanese salad was the inspiration for the suction cup soles for the ‘OK basketball’ shoes in 1951. They took a lot of trial and error developing them though, the first version stuck a bit too much and rooted the players to the court!
Continuing the groundbreaking ethos, in 1959 the ‘Magic Runner’ shoes were the first to look at ventilation as a way to prevent blisters and improve comfort. Taking inspiration from, amongst other things, a motorcycle engine!
It was the Olympic games of the 1960’s that catapulted Onitsuka Tiger to worldwide fame and respect, with the shoes used at the 1968 games being the first to incorporate the now famous ‘Tiger Stripes’.
Right up until his death in 2007, Mr Onitsuka was never afraid to be a pioneer and this way of thinking continues as this brand have become iconic sports fashion leaders with a unique Japanese heritage.