We know those iconic tiger stripes have been taking over your Pinterest boards lately. But have you ever wondered where they originated? This year marks the 75th anniversary of the beautifully crafted Japanese brand Onitsuka Tiger, and to honor this milestone, we've gathered five fascinating facts about Onitsuka Tiger that you probably didn’t know. Dive into the story behind those legendary stripes and discover what has made this brand an undeniable favorite.

The idea originates from a salad side

Kihachiro Onitsuka's inspiration for his groundbreaking design came from an unlikely source: an octopus tentacle that clung to his salad bowl. Intrigued by the suction cups, he envisioned a similar concept for basketball shoes. In 1951, the OK basketball shoe debuted, featuring a sole modeled after those suction cups. This innovative design provided players with enhanced grip, enabling them to make quicker breaks and sudden stops with precision and agility. This paved the road for their journey as Japan's top sports shoe creators.

The Blister Healing Shoe Discovered In A Bath

Kihachiro discovered a gap in the footwear industry for runners: blisters. Distance runners often struggled with blisters that limited their performance, as existing shoe designs couldn't prevent this issue. One day, while soaking in a bath, Kihachiro Onitsuka observed his toes wrinkling from the heat. He realized that the combination of warmth and humidity was a key factor in causing blisters. Inspired by this insight, he developed a solution for better air circulation by adding ventilation holes to the shoes. This innovation significantly reduced blisters and set a new standard in running shoe technology and comfort, revolutionizing the experience for long-distance runners.

Nike’s First Shoe Was Designed By Onitsuka

Bill Bowerman, a famous track coach and co-founder of Nike, worked closely with Onitsuka in its development stages. They performed many shoe experiments together, most famously, the Cortez. The Cortez was designed for Onistuka before their split, and later, Nike took Onitsuka to court to gain the rights to the design. This was done in hopes of allowing both companies production rights while Nike would be given rights to the original name of Cortez. Onitsuka continued the design but under the name of “Corsair.” The Nike Cortez debuted as the company's first shoe in 1972. 

Asics and Onitsuka are tightly related 

Onitsuka Tiger's history isn't only intertwined with Nike. In 1977, Onitsuka Tiger merged with GTO, JELENK, and several other sewing factories to form what we now know as ASICS. ASICS is an acronym derived from the Latin phrase “Anima Sana in Corpore Sano,” meaning “a healthy soul in a healthy body.” After this merger, the original Onitsuka Tiger brand seemed to vanish as it fully integrated into the new ASICS identity, leaving behind a legacy that would evolve into a global sportswear powerhouse.

The Resurgence Of The Tiger

It wasn't until 2002 that Onitsuka Tiger quietly made its comeback in Europe, reintroducing itself with a high-end line of designs. This relaunch marked the beginning of a remarkable resurgence for the brand. Since then, Onitsuka Tiger has reclaimed its iconic status, significantly influencing contemporary fashion and streetwear. Their blend of classic aesthetics and modern innovation continues to shape today's style, making Onitsuka Tiger a beloved and enduring name in the world of fashion and footwear.

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