One of the biggest brands in the footwear and sportswear industry has to do with the classic swoosh. They have been the uncontested shoe brand for some time and have grown their brand through high-profile endorsements. Nike has also grown their brand through PR campaigns and sleek designs that have become widely popular for years to come. All of these things together have made their way into pop-culture and continue to be successful even to this day. Some of the popular names that rep the iconic swoosh are Lebron James, Tiger Woods, Rafael Nadal, Serena Williams, Roger Federer, Simona Halep, and Michael Jordan. How they came to be is a story on its own, and one we plan to dive into today. Continue reading to learn some Nike fun facts and more.
Nike starts with Bill Bowerman a coach and Phil Knight a student and runner. Phil Knight was one of the first people to try one of Bill Bowerman’s shoes. Bill saw Phil as a safe runner to test his shoes on and offered to take a pair and fix them up with his custom design. Phil accepted the offer and used the shoes on the track. The shoes worked so well that then Otis Davis took them and wore them to the 1960’s Olympics where he won gold in the 400-Meter Dash.
After attending the University of Oregon, Phil Knight went on to Standford’s MBA program where he wrote a paper about the production of running shoes. In this paper, he theorized that the production of running shoes should move from Germany to Japan since the cost of labor is cheaper. Once he graduated in 1962 he was able to test his theory by taking a trip to Japan. There he struck a deal with a few Japanese businessmen to export the country’s popular Onitsuka Tiger shoes to the U.S.
Coach Bowerman believed that German shoes weren’t anything special to be improved upon despite being the best on the market. So, he decided to support Phil in his adventure and entered into a 50-50 deal for ownership. Finally, Blue Ribbon Sports was established on January 25, 1964.
Blue Ribbon Sports
Once Blue Ribbon Sports was established Phil Knight began testing the waters by selling his imported shoes out of his car when he came to the states. However, it became apparent that there was a high demand for these high-quality yet inexpensive alternatives to Adidas and Pumas. By 1965 Bowerman had a new shoe design for the Tiger shoe company. These shoes had the runner in mind. They were made to provide the proper support for runners with a cushioned innersole, soft rubber in the forefoot and at the top of the heel, and hard rubber in the middle of the heel with a firm rubber outsole.
These shoes became both a major success and a source of conflict between their Japanese supplier. These shoes were called the Tiger Cortez and debuted in 1967. While they became an instant hit for their comfortable stylish, and study design, relations between Blue Ribbon and Onitsuka Tiger went south. The two eventually split in 1971.
Rebranding as Nike
After the split with Onitsuka Tiger (now known as Asics), Blue Ribbon Sports rebranded themselves as Nike. Phil Knight wanted to name the company “Dimension 6” however, Jeff Johnson, Nike’s first official employee, got the inspiration for Nike from a dream. In this dream, he saw the name of the Greek Goddess of Victory. However, to go with the name change, they needed a new logo.
For their logo, they reached out to Carolyn Davidson. She was a design student at Portland State University and provided them with design sketches. Reluctantly Phil Knight settled on the swoosh. Carolyn Davidson received $35 total for the project. However, after Knight came around to the logo in 1983, he then awarded Davidson 500 shares of stock. These stocks are worth nearly 1 million today.
Finally, by May 30, 1971, Nike, Inc. came into existence. Also, within that first and second year, Bowerman created an innovative waffle sole design. This is when the Moon Shoe, Nike’s first shoe, came to be. These shoes were hand-cobbled and were the first prototype of the waffle trainer. Runners loved these shoes for their feel and traction making them popular in the sports industry. This was the beginning of a long and successful career and many years creating show-stopping pieces.
Nike Fun Facts and Tennis Express
We hope you enjoyed these Nike fun facts and history. Here at Tennis Express, we carry Nike and other leading brands at both our online and in-person stores. So, check out our latest Nike collections and more. Also, subscribe to our blog to stay up to date on the latest trends and to hear more fun facts about popular brands. Thank you for reading and we’ll see you again next time!
That’s it for the Tennis Express Ultimate Tennis Gift Guide for 2020. For all of the newest tennis gear and tennis apparel, visit us at tennisexpress.com.