Mr. Kihachiro Onitsuka founded the forerunner of the ASICS brand, Onitsuka Co. Ltd., in Kobe, Japan. He started by making basketball shoes to meet the needs of Japan’s rising young basketball stars. The first shoes featured a recessed sole design, which mimicked the action of an octopus’ suction cup.
In 1950 the company then became known as Onitsuka Tiger and celebrated its first major sporting success the following year, with the winner of the Boston Marathon wearing Onitsuka Tiger shoes.
The Japanese women’s volleyball team nicknamed “The Oriental Witches”, won gold at the Tokyo Olympics in 1964 wearing Onitsuka Tiger volleyball shoes.
Mr. Onitsuka began marketing his shoes in the United States and the design took on various structural and aesthetic changes. It was during this period that the shoe markings were changed to the sleeker Tiger Stripe design, the same design found on Onitsuka Tiger shoes today.
ASICS Corporation was born in 1977 when Onitsuka Tiger merged with GTO Sports Nets & Sportswear. The acronym ASICS, “Anima Sana In Corpore Sano”, meaning “A Sound Mind In A Sound Body” was chosen as the name to promote the philosophy that sport is the best way to create a healthy and happy lifestyle.
Derek Clayton, sponsored by ASICS, broke the world marathon record of 2hrs 10mins. At major sporting events through the 70’s many athletes wore ASICS shoes, including 5,000 meter and 10,000 meter runner Lasse Viren, who, despite falling in the twelfth lap of the 10,000 meter finals, went on to win gold at the 1972 Munich Olympics.
In the 70’s ASICS committed to designing footwear specifically for women. This historic improvement in the fit of women’s shoes attracted world-class female athletes to compete wearing ASICS.
The new sporting heroes of the 80’s brought more attention to international sporting events. And like the various athletes who continued to aspire to higher challenges, ASICS pressed on to meet the challenges for better shoe technology. In 1979 the ASICS research facility in Kobe branched out into a research laboratory for evaluating shoe design and features. In 1985 it officially became the research and development center of ASICS.
The introduction of the ASICS GEL cushioning system revolutionized the footwear industry. This unique cushioning system introduced the ability to absorb shock by dissipating vertical impact and dispersing it into a horizontal plane. Still utilized today, the ASICS GEL cushioning system is found throughout the footwear line.
The late 90’s were a very exciting time in the sporting arena. Professional football was gaining in popularity. Sprinters were shaving hundredths of seconds off their race times, and world records were being broken every year.
ASICS introduced a number of high-tech innovations in the 90’s and established itself as a technological leader in the industry with innovations such as DuoSole, AHAR Heel Plug, Trusstic System, Wet Grip Rubber, RhynoSkin and DuoMax. In 1994 ASICS introduced the iconic GEL-KAYANO running shoe, setting the industry benchmark for shoes in this class.
2007 saw the passing of Mr. Onitsuka, the man who started ASICS. Those now charged with building on his success in both performance and lifestyle strive to live by his maxim: to create shoes that meet the needs of the modern athlete, helping improve performance, enhancing comfort and preventing injury.
ASICS continues to be a the forefront of the performance sports market and is undisputedly the leading running shoe brand for enthusiasts and professional athletes alike. Whether at professional sporting events, the Olympics or on a casual run in the park, ASICS is the true runner’s choice, providing comfort, support and a superior ride. The recent 10-year anniversaries of its two leading, award-winning shoes, the GEL-NIMBUS and GEL-KAYANO, demonstrate the longevity and affection of the brand in the eyes of sports people across the globe.
Beyond the running arena, ASICS has made further strides in product development. The revolutionary ASICS Rugby and Football range incorporates injury prevention technologies, a first in sportswear manufacturing. ASICS is unmatched for technical superiority and rigorous quality control.
These standards have kept the company in good stead since 1949 and will remain hallmarks of the brand as it innovates and develops well into the 21st century.