ASICS History

Mr Onitsuka with his first shoe1949

Mr Kihachiro Onitsuka founded the forerunner of ASICS, Onitsuka Co. Ltd., in 1949 in Kobe, Japan. He started manufacturing basketball shoes in order to meet the needs of the nation’s rising basketball stars. The first shoes were designed with a recessed sole to simulate action of an octopus’ suction cup.

By 1950, the company was known as Onitsuka Tiger. The Tiger sports shoe saw its first major success the following year, with the winner of the Boston Marathon wearing the
brand.

Abebe Bikila1960’s

The Tokyo Olympics in 1964 were the first Olympics in Asia. The Japanese women’s volleyball team, “the Oriental Witches”, won a gold medal, wearing Tiger volleyball shoes. The same year Ethiopian runner, Abebe Bikila, known by the nickname “Barefoot Abebe” (he won a gold medal at the 1960 Rome Olympics running barefoot), won a gold medal wearing Tiger running shoes.

Mr Onitsuka began marketing his shoes in the United States. Tiger shoes underwent various structural and aesthetic changes. It was during this period that the shoe markings were changed to the sleeker tiger stripe design still in use today. Consequently, Onitsuka athletic shoes became known as “Tigers”.

Lasse Viren1970’s

Derek Clayton, sponsored by ASICS, broke the world marathon record of 2 hours ten minutes. In the latter half of the 1970’s, the function of sports shoes improved quite a bit. At all major competitions such as the Olympics, many athletes wore ASICS shoes, including 5,000 metre and 10,000 meter runner Lasse Viren, who, despite falling in the twelfth lap of the 10,000 metre finals, went on to win gold in the 1972 Munich Olympics. ASICS Corporation was born in 1977 when Onitsuka Tiger merged with GTO Sports Nets & Sportswear. The acronym ASICS “Anima Sana In Corpore Sano” which means “A Sound Mind In A Sound Body” was chosen to promote the company philosophy that sports is the best way to create a healthy, happy lifestyle.

It was also during the 1970’s that ASICS committed to designing footwear specifically for women. This historic improvement in the fit of women’s shoes allowed ASICS to attract world-class female athletes.

ASICS' Research and Development Centre in Kobe, Japan1980’s

The new sports heroes in the eighties made people pay more attention to international sporting events. And like the various athletes who continued to aspire to higher challengers, ASICS pressed on to meet the challengers for better shoe technology. In 1979 the ASICS research facility in Kobe branched out into a research laboratory exclusively for evaluating sport shoe features. In 1985 it officially became the Research and Development Centre of ASICS.

The introduction of the ASICS GEL Cushioning System revolutionised the footwear line. This cushioning system has the ability to absorb shock by dissipating vertical impact and dispersing it into a horizontal plane. Rearfoot and forefoot ASICS GEL Cushioning Systems are placed at points of maximum impact to provide optimum shock absorption without sacrificing the stability of the shoe. Today ASICS utilise a wide variety of GEL Cushioning Systems throughout the footwear line.

The first GEL-KAYANO1990’s

The late 20th century was an exciting time for Japan. Pro soccer became very popular in the 1990’s. Sprinters were shaving hundredths of seconds off their times in competitions, and world records were being broken every year. ASICS introduced a number of high-tech innovations in the 1990’s and established itself as a technological leader in the industry: DuoSole, AHAR Heel Plug, Trusstic System, Wet Grip Rubber, RhynoSkin, and DuoMax. In 1994 ASICS introduced the successful GEL-KAYANO which became the benchmark in its class.

Inside the ASICS Museum2000’s

The legacy of ASICS innovation continues into the new millennium. Through the state of the art Research and Development Centre in Kobe, Japan, ASICS scientists continue to push the boundaries of footwear performance, comfort and fit. ASICS’ commitment to athletes in response to their need for flexible, lightweight, comfortable and stable shoes has launched a host of groundbreaking features including: Gender Specific Space Trusstic, SoLyte midsole, Impact Guidance System, Biomorphic Fit, and improved Discrete GEL systems. In 2007 the summation of ASICS’ efforts culminated in the introduction of the GEL-KINSEI, widely regarded as the most advanced running shoe ever created.

2007 saw the passing of Mr Onitsuka, the man who started the great ASICS story will be sadly missed by all who knew and worked alongside him. His legacy will live on in the success that his beloved company enjoys. Those now charged with building on this success will continue to live by his maxim: to create shoes that meet the needs of the athlete to improve performance, enhance comfort and prevent injury.

Mr Onitsuka in the basketball court of the Research and Development CentreToday

ASICS is at the forefront of the world performance sports market as undisputedly the leading running shoe brand for enthusiasts and professional athletes alike. Whether at professional sporting events, the Olympics or an everyday run around a park, ASICS is the 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 by which the brand is held in the eyes of sportspeople across the globe.

Beyond the running arena, ASICS has made further strides in development. The revolutionary ASICS Rugby and Football range incorporates injury prevention technologies, a first in these sports. ASICS is unmatched for technical superiority and rigorous quality. These standards have put the company in good stead since 1949 and will remain hallmarks of the brand as it innovates and develops well into the 21st century.