Fashion & Style

A Brief History Of Asics

9:46 PM

man with asics shoes

The company producing Asics shoes takes its name from the first letter of each word in the maxim "Anima Sana In Corpore Sano." This phrase is translated from Latin as "a sound mind in a sound body." The expression, also interpreted as "a healthy soul in a healthy body," is credited to the Roman poet Juvenal, who taught that this was all anyone needed to ask for in their prayers. The essence of this Japanese shoe brand is its founding principle of how its products promote physical exercise as a means of achieving a healthy mind and spirit.

A Brief History of Asics 

How Asics Began

Now recognized as a maker of some of the best sneakers for men, Asics began shortly after the end of World War II. In 1949, Kihachiro Onitsuka, a former Japanese military officer, started a small shoe company out of his Kobe, Japan living room. 

Onitsuka's intention was to manufacture a product that would help invigorate his war-torn country's young people and bring them together. 

He believed that physical exercise and sports were excellent ways to promote the health and happiness of not only each individual, but for what at that time was a disconnected society in Japan. 

With his desire to contribute to his country's morale and rebuilding efforts, Onitsuka devised a way to revolutionize basketball footwear. His intent was to create a shoe that would help his countrymen win international sports competitions. 

Back in the 1940s, basketball sneakers weren’t designed for swift maneuvering and they lacked sufficient grip capabilities. Through a lengthy trial-and-error process Onitsuka designed his basketball shoes and then watched players wearing them in a high school gym class to see how they worked on the court. 

He noticed that the players were slipping, and with feedback from the coach, he attempted to redesign his shoe, but at first, without much luck in improving the grip capability. Then, inspiration struck while at a restaurant eating an octopus salad; one of the tentacles got stuck to Onitsuka's salad bowl. 

At that moment, he knew the way to improve his basketball shoe was to design its sole with suction cups much like those on an octopus tentacle.

In 1951, the Onitsuka Tiger basketball shoe was launched with grips that allowed players to make swift movements and sudden stops on the court. 

The high school basketball team that Onitsuka used as a proving ground won their championship game. The Japanese Olympic basketball team also wore them in their competitions, and Onitsuka's company began its journey to international success. 

Growth and Popularity in America

During the 1950s and 1960s, Onitsuka's company grew in its research and development efforts. It designed shoes for running, volleyball and tennis and branched out into activewear for sports players of all types. 

In 1977, the company recreated itself as Asics and expanded its manufacturing to the United States. The brand grew in popularity internationally and became an official pop-culture icon when Bruce Lee first wore them in his movie “Game of Death.” 

Asics Today

With new models being introduced, and the innovative, high-quality and grip factors that catapulted Onitsuka’s shoes to success, the company has both maintained and expanded upon its products’ core features. If it’s for sports, hiking or for stylish casual wear, some of the best footgear made for men can be found in the Asics product line.

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