INTRODUCING ONITSUKA TIGER
Onitsuka Tiger is a sports footwear brand with a rich history spanning over half a century. The brand was founded in Japan in 1949 by Kihachiro Onitsuka. The founder wanted to help the younger generation rebuild the country after World War II through sport, which led to the birth of Onitsuka Co., Ltd, which initially manufactured shoes for basketball players. Over time, Onitsuka Tiger expanded its product range to include not only basketball shoes, but also shoes for other sports. In particular, Onitsuka Tiger became famous for developing special shoes for marathon runners.
Onitsuka Tiger was selected as the official footwear brand for the Japanese team at the Olympic Games. This involvement cemented the brand's reputation as a manufacturer of quality athletic footwear. However, the highlight of the brand's fame came at the 1972 Olympic Games, when Finnish runner Lasse Viren won gold in the 10,000 metre race wearing Onitsuka Tiger shoes.
Another important stage in the brand's history was its partnership with Blue Ribbon Sports, later known as Nike. Together they developed the Onitsuka Tiger Corsair model, which became the basis for the creation of the famous Nike Cortez trainers. In 1977, Onitsuka Tiger merged with two other Japanese companies - GTO and Jelenk - to form a new company, ASICS. The name ASICS comes from the Latin phrase "Anima Sana In Corpore Sano", which translates as "In a healthy body - a healthy mind". This reflects Kihachiro Onitsuka's philosophy and his aim to cultivate a healthy society through sport. Japanese sportswear brand Onitsuka Tiger is the creator of some of the world's most famous trainers. One of them is the Onitsuka Tiger Mexico 66, first introduced in 1966 and named after the 1968 Olympic Games in Mexico City. This unique model became a symbol of its time and remains popular to this day.
The Onitsuka Tiger Corsair, developed in collaboration with Nike, also holds an important place in the brand's history. Its design laid the foundations for the creation of the famous Nike Cortez trainers. A lesser known but no less important model, the Onitsuka Tiger Tai-Chi, has left its mark on culture. Bruce Lee wore them in his famous film Enter the Dragon, and later Uma Thurman chose the same model for her role in Kill Bill. These cult films gave the Tai Chi model a special status and underlined Onitsuka Tiger's influence on culture. Questions are often asked about the difference between Onitsuka Tiger and ASICS, as the two brands share a common history. In 1977, Onitsuka Tiger, GTO and Jelenk merged to form ASICS. However, despite the merger, the brands retained their independence. Onitsuka Tiger continues to produce classic trainers with retro designs, while ASICS focuses on creating footwear with the latest innovations in sports technology.
In the 2000s, the Onitsuka Tiger brand experienced its second birth. The brand was relaunched, retaining its recognisable classic models, but with an emphasis on contemporary street fashion trends. Today, Onitsuka Tiger is not just sport, it's culture and style, vividly expressed in every pair of shoes.