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Onitsuka Tiger - A Buyers Guide

Updated on April 3, 2012

Onitsuka Tiger has a deep rooted history which has resulted in a brand which creates stylish sports products inspired by the Japanese values of craftsmanship and attention to detail. The iconic athletic brand was established in 1949 and founded by Kihachiro Onitsuka who wanted to promote a healthy lifestyle and bring up a respected youth using the power of sport. Onitsuka noticed that through the 1940s the popularity of basketball was growing, but most students were playing barefoot. This led him to want to perfect the basketball shoe using technical innovations. He began to study the basketball team and interviewed the students to interpret their needs and wants from a shoe. After 6 months the first basketball shoe was born. After creating the shoe he wanted to improve its performance focusing upon the grip of the shoe. After searching for inspiration the answer was right infront of him, whilst eating an octopus salad Onitsuka noticed the suckers of the octopus’s tentacle. This was the simple inspiration for the innovative Suction Cup Sole. The grip on the first prototype proved to be so strong that testers were sticking to the floor and falling over! After many trials Onitsuka discovered the ideal sole with excellent grip and traction. It was not only the Suction Cup Sole which was discovered by taking inspiration from surroundings. Onitsuka also studied the air circulating workings of a motorcycle engine and he had the incredible idea of putting holes in his long distance shoes, the MagicRunner was born and they kept feet cool and comfortable.

The 1960s saw the creation of the Nippon 60 delegation shoe for the 1960 Rome Olympics. This style featured the classic rising sun motif. Delegation shoes were designed from Olympic teams to wear at official functions and ceremonies. In 1966 the ASICS stripe design was introduced which is still used today. This was introduced for the shoes being developed for the 1968 Olympic Games. They were named ‘Mexico Lines’ and the stripe was now become the trademark design and it’s featured on styles such as Ultimate 81 and Mexico 66. This period of time also saw the introduction of the professional Runspark DS SP which takes the form of track shoes with interchangeable spikes making them perfect for any track and all conditions. In 1967 Onitsuka announced the Limber Leather shoe to the world. The whole Japanese Olympic team wore the style was delegation shoes at the Mexico games. It was also during this period of time that the Cortez shoe was sold in a Nike outlet. It was in 1975 that the first apparel collection was designed when Kihachiro Onitsuka was asking by the Japanese Olympic committee to supply the official clothing for the country.

Since then Onitsuka Tiger has continued to grow and now the retro inspired brand is at the height of its popularity. The most popular style of the trainers include the Mexico 66, the first shoes designed with the famous Tiger Stripes. Originally this style was worn at the Mexico Olympic Games in 1968 but now convenient fastening straps for extra comfort have been created keeping them in high demand. Another favourite design is the Ultimate 81 which is a technical running shoe from 1981 with a focus of heel stability and lightness. The shoe features grey mesh and material upper with the trademark ASICS Onitsuka side stripes in blue. Sunotore has a name that literally means ‘snow training’. The first design of the shoe made its debut when it was worn by the Japanese delegation at the Sappro Winter Games in 1972. This style features leather uppers with nylon panelling, a padded textile collar and a thick rubber sole to finish. If you are looking for a more formal style Onitsuka shoe that Wasen is perfect for you. This shoe is a cross between a sporty basketball shoe and a casual deck shoe. The moccasin stitch details on the toe area and raised leather ridge on the heel adds the casual dimension, while the simple outsole is inspired by a basketball shoe.


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