03 June 2016 14:00:00
Onitsuka Tiger: the Japanese tiger
We talk about Onitsuka Tiger, one of the oldest Japanese brands
The Onitsuka Tiger brand traces its history back to the post-war period in Japan, where in 1949, a former military officer Kihachiro Onitsuka wondered how to help the Japanese youth in those hard times. It didn’t take long to find a solution. Since Mr. Onitsuka was a big fan of sports, he decided to create a brand for those who wanted to live a healthy lifestyle, to find new motivation for themselves, and to inspire people around with the personal example.
At the time, basketball was gaining tremendous popularity – people played it everywhere, but mostly barefoot. Kihachiro Onitsuka decided to remedy the situation and created his first basketball shoes. It should be noted that the first production model was released after six-month observation of the sportsmen along with massive sociological survey. One of the first models sole design was inspired by the structure of the octopus tentacles suckers. Mr. Onitsuka believed those suckers would give the shoe the maximum grip with the playground. Legend has it that the gripping power of the first prototypes was so strong that the players could hardly lift the feet. The brand thus became the first Japanese basketball shoes manufacturer.
The birth of shapes
The sole of the first production model, Bashu, depicted the head of a tiger. Later, this picture turned into a trademark, while the brand became known as Onitsuka Tiger. One of the most popular models, Mexico 66, was introduced in 1966, two years before the 1968 Olympics held in Mexico City. These very sneakers first featured the famous “tiger stripes”, which later became the signature of the brand.
In 1977, a historical event came about when Onitsuka Tiger merged with sports and fishing equipment company GTO and uniform manufacturer JELENK. Thus, ASICS brand appeared, yet it’s a different ball game. However, the famous stripes became the signature of ASICS as well. The lines play a major functional part: while two vertical stripes support the foot arch, two horizontal stripes provide heel support. Later on, the ASICS brand evolved using innovations in production, while Onitsuka Tiger relied mostly on its history, being committed to vintage silhouettes that had approved themselves for everyday life.
In the 20th century, Japan became one of the most technologically advanced countries in the world. All through its history, Onitsuka Tiger was making heavy use of innovations in production. Their list impresses: the first sneakers with vulcanite sole, use of Vinylon synthetic fiber and breathing holes, the first track sneakers with replacement spikes, EVA (ethylene vinyl acetate) packing material. A historical fact related to the Nike brand shouldn’t be left unmentioned. Phil Knight, the future Nike founder, managed the American division of Onitsuka Tiger in his day. The idea behind the Cortez silhouette was borrowed from the Japanese brand. Interested readers will notice its similarity to the Corsair model by Onitsuka Tiger.
As one can see, from the very first pair of sneakers the Japanese brand follows its special philosophy of sports and fashion, realizing rebellious design ideas at times while pursuing its inimitable style. Take a closer look at Onitsuka Tiger sneakers at our store.
Onitsuka TigerMen's sneakers Mexico Delegation Blue/White
Onitsuka TigerMen's sneakers Mexico Delegation Green/White
Onitsuka TigerMen's sneakers Mexico Delegation White/Blue
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