ASICS is a Japanese athletic equipment company specializing in footwear and sports equipment. ASICS has its headquarters in Kobe, Japan where it started business in 1949 under the name of Onitsuka Co., Ltd. And where its founder, Kiachiro Onitsuka, began manufacturing basketball shoes along with sports shoes for post-war Japanese youth. The “Bashu” line of basketball shoes featured a tiger face on the sole, which became the company’s trademark. Onitsuka’s philosophy was one of “bringing up youth through sports“. This philosophy has continued to be a guiding principle behind the company’s business objectives, restated when Onitsuka Co., Ltd. changed its name to ASICS in 1977. ASICS is derived from a Latin proverb “Anima Sana in Corpore Sano“, meaning “a sound mind in a sound body“.
Prior to changing its name, Onitsuka established a number of sports equipment milestones. Onitsuka established a line of quality marathon runner shoes in the 1950. Since that time, over half of the runners in the Boston Marathon have competed while wearing ASICS running shoes. In the 1960’s Onitsuka ventured into the Olympics sports world where one of the company’s innovations was the development of the first track shoes with interchangeable spikes. The intersection of two horizontal and two vertical lines added as reinforcements on their running shoe line eventually became the ASICS trademark. Another feature, the Tiger Stripes, were introduced two years prior to the 1968 Mexico City Olympic Games. Prior to that time, Onitsuka had introduced its line of Tiger jogging shoes to the United States. Another jogging shoe, the Corsair, was unveiled in 1969, a derivative of which, the Cortes, was one of Nike’s first products. In 1973 Onitsuka set up a subsidiary in Irvine. California, and two years later established a unit it Düsseldorf, Germany. The company also has principal subsidiaries in Brazil, The Netherlands, South Korea, and Australia, all established in the 1980’s at which time the company’s products were being exported to over 80 countries.
Merger, and a New Name
In 1977 Onitsuka Co., Ltd., merged with sporting goods company GTO, and athletic uniform maker JELENK, creating a new company under the name of ASICS. The California, a descendant of the Corsair, was introduced the same year and featured a reflective surface that drivers could see at night. Meanwhile, the U.S Subsidiary took on the name ASICS Tiger (later becoming ASICS Tiger Corporation), introducing the Montreal III jogger, featuring a “Cush-Hole” air vent in the heel.
Since that time ASICS has continued to innovate and improve upon its products. A line of shock-absorbing gel shoes were introduced in the late 1980’s together with a line of very light weight marathon shoes. The company has even ventured into a line of dress shoes and sandals, and continued to improve upon its line of track and field shoes, including the Tiger Paw Cyberzero sprinting shoe, designed to give a competitive edge to its wearer in a sport where winning or losing is often decided by a few 100ths of a second.
ASICS continues to carry a line of retro designs, and a vintage range of ASICS products are still being produced and sold under the old Onitsuka label.