In this blog, we’ll look at some of the greatest trainer designs of all time.
Onitsuka Tiger Corsair
Onitsuka Tiger started making sports shoes in 1949 with the idea of helping the youth of Japan build their self-esteem through exercise and athletics. They developed running shoes and pioneered many techniques that are used to create running shoes today, IN the late 1950s an American, Philip Knight, was studying at the University of Oregon. His coach, Bill Bowerman, was one of the top coaches in the USA at the time and was interested in running shoe design. After discovering Onitsuka Tiger running shoes they reached an agreement to distribute them in the USA. They opened a company called Blue Ribbon sports to do this. Bowerman helped to design a shoe with Onitsuka Tiger and the design was called the Cortez. Blue Ribbon Sports decided that they wanted to manufacture their own version of the shoe and removed the striped branding and added a swoosh on the side. They started selling the shoes under the Nike brand name in 1972. A lengthy legal battle raged on and eventually, both companies could sell the design.
The 1960s was a time of social revolution and in trainer terms, it was one of the decades that launched so many classics. Puma had been working on an athletic shoe and at the 1968 Olympic games their new suede shoes were at the scene of one of the most iconic moments in Olympic history. During the 1960s, the civil rights movement was in full swing with Martin Luther King giving his “I have a dream” speech at the March on Washington in 1963. Following his assassination in 1968, the civil right movement had lost its leader. What is commonly forgotten about MLK in the run-up to his murder was his commitment to eradicating poverty and promotion of socialist values. Months after his death two African-American athletes won podium positions in the 200m at the Mexico Olympics. As a protest against poverty, Tommie Smith who came first and John Carlos took to the podium and wore a black glove and clenched their fist and raised it in the air whilst wearing no shoes. The salute is now famously called the 1968 Olympics Black Power Salute.
Smith said it wasn’t and the protest was a human right salute and wearing no shoes was to symbolise the poverty many Americans found themselves in. They left their shoes on the podium and wore only socks. The shoes were Puma Suedes. This launched the shoe as a classic for African-Americans and when New York Knick legend Walt ‘Clyde’ Frazier started wearing them on the basketball court their popularity spread. Basketball fans and the new hip-hop movement became attracted to the shoes and they remain as popular today as they ever have been.
Converse Chuck Taylor All-Stars
Probably the daddy of all trainers, Chuck Taylors were first released in 1917 under the name “non-skids.” In 1921 Converse appointed a salesman, Chuck Taylor, to promote the shoe. He was relentless in his promotion of the shoe as the number one basketball shoe in the USA and by 1934 they evolved in name to be called the Chuck Taylor All-Star. Taylor himself added a few features to the shoes, including the circular logo. Taking the shoe with him to schools, where he taught the fundamentals of basketball the shoe was a sensation and was worn by practically every basketball player. B the 1960s nearly every player in the NBA was wearing them. The shoe started to lose popularity in the 1970s when other brands were starting to appear and snap up their own price of the market. Nevertheless, the All Stars survived and are a favourite of Emos, slackers and Hollywood stars when they’re out at whole foods. The trailblazer with heritage that other companies can only dream of.
Adidas have a long history of innovation in shoes the Samba is the shoe that started the whole sports casual trend. Developed in the late 1940s and released in 1950, Sambas were originally intended to be used for football training when the ground was frozen and normal studs couldn’t be used. Originally available in black kangaroo leather with white stripes, they became an instant classic. Their reinforced toe was meant to help the shoe stay together when they were used for playing football. The shoe has remained the same over the years, but the biggest difference came when the Samba Super was launched. This added a large rubber seam around the front and adidas branding on the side. They also included a longer tongue. Today Samba and Samba Super are made in multiple colourways and are Adidas’ second most popular shoe of all time.