Is it possible to mention the name of the best adequate sports shoes and not mention that of Nike? Founded in 1971, the American brand was the first company in the world to manufacture sports equipment before Puma and Adidas. Every year, the turnover of Nike exceeds twenty billion euros.
And if it always manages to outperform its main competitors, it is often due to its ability to innovate, diversify its offerings and communicate effectively. However, the path taken by the creators of this must-have brand to get to this level has not been at all easy.
Follow here the summary on the history of Nike.
In fact, it all started in the United States in the 1960s. Philip Knight, the man behind the brand, decided to live his passion fully: running. And at the same time he was on the track, he was still studying accounting at the great University of Oregon. But in 1964, his passion finally took over from his studies. He started selling shoes in collaboration with Tiger Onitsuka. This brand would later become ASICS.
The business was so profitable that a few months later, he decided to enter into a partnership with his former coach Bill Bowerman.
Together, they created the company "Blue Ribbon Sports" which quickly grew with efficiency. In addition to the entrepreneurial vision that characterizes them, they also have a better knowledge of their product. This will allow them to be the main actors having actively participated in the fame of the Tigers' shoe without which ASICS would not know the success.
But gradually, they will try to gain their independence in order to not depend entirely on their Asian supplier. Their ambition was to sell their own products. In 1966, the two partners opened their very first store in California and more precisely in Santa Monica. They were then joined by a friend of Philip Knight named Jeff Johnson..
Officially, "Blue Ribbon Sports" was changed to "Nike" five years later. And if Johnson decided to take this name, it is not by chance. Indeed, this new name was inspired by the one worn by a Greek goddess. This name is a symbol of victory: "Niké". That same year, the logo called "Swoosh" which resembles a comma reversed will be adopted and placed on most items of the company since 1971. Only Nike products belonging to the Jordan range will not display the logo, because they are considered a completely separate brand since 1997. For the record, the creation of the logo was given to Carolyn Davidson. As a student in graphic art, she will draw the logo for a paltry $35. But in 1983, Nike will offer him a ring made of gold, with a diamond and with the logo. In 1981, the group will enter the stock market and will also offer him several of these shares.
From 1972, the brand will know a lot of success on the commercial and technical level. The first successful product was the Cortez shoe created by Bowerman to meet the requirements of long-distance runners. In 1972, in Munich, the American competitors will wear it to participate in the Olympic Games. At that time, it was a real revolution, because this first model of Nike is formed of a notched sole that allows athletes to absorb the possible shocks that arrive and then rebound. And since the American athletes made very good performances during these Olympic Games, Nike will be inspired by the same technology to manufacture another product: the Waffle. It will be sold the following year and will even become a best-seller.
Moreover, it is important to note that Nike was not among the companies that sponsored the American athletes at the 1972 Olympics. In fact, there was a law at that time that did not allow any athlete who was under contract with a brand to compete. Usually, when we talk about the first professional sportsman with whom Nike sponsored, we quote Steve Prefontaine, but it is rather Ilie Nastase, the tennis player, who was the very first.
The American brand will not stop there. Instead, it will redouble its efforts in the innovation of new products. Thus, it will end up creating the Air technology for a better comfort of runners. It was the gas pockets that are created and introduced in each of the soles of the sneakers. The first shoe to be equipped with this new technology was the "Tailwind" in 1978..
It was made for running. Two years later, Nike, the undisputed leader of sports shoes in America will go public. It will once again beat all its competitors in the field of basketball with the introduction of "Air Force 1" in 1982. This technology will considerably raise the level of the athletes.
Indeed, it was a goal that the brand aimed: to be the first to insert an Air cushioning system in the shoes of basketball players. And they succeeded brilliantly, because the professionals playing in the NBA will adopt it for its exceptional ability to absorb shocks. This is a feat that deserves to be praised when we know that in this sport several changes of support and rebound are made.
The shoe designer, Bruce Kilgore, preferred to hide the air pocket under the heel while Tinker Hatfield preferred to make it a transparent bubble. His proposal will be finally retained and will become besides a symbol for the shoes belonging to this range Air Max.
The launch of the AF1 was a great success, as its design was in perfect harmony with the clothing the company was offering. In addition, it had the support of Calvin Natt, Mychal Thompson, Bobby Jones, Jamaal Wilkes, Michael Cooper and Moses Malone. These are the 6 most famous players of the time. However, Nike will deliberately opt to withdraw the shoe from the market after a year of sales. It was relaunched after a strong desire of the managers of Charley Rudo's Sports, Downtown Locker Room and Cinderella Shoes. These are specialty stores in Baltimore.
In 1984, Nike will strike another blow with its partner Michael Jordan, the future great star of the NBA. Indeed, the American brand has a good knowledge of the advantages of sponsorship in the promotion of products and image of a company. That's why it fought to sign a contract with him. From this contract will be born a partnership that continues to be profitable for the brand. Jordan, the iconic number 23 of the Chicago Bulls team, will no longer step on the basketball court without wearing his Air Force 1 shoe. At the same time, he will partner with Nike to create his own clothing and shoes that will be sold through the subsidiary called "the Jordan Brand". This is how Air Jordan 1 will be born in 1985.
Peter Moore was the designer of this mythical basketball shoe. The sneaker addicts love it very much. But the NBA will eventually ban its use, which will not be the taste of many fans. In 1986, the Air Jordan 2 will take its place. Unfortunately, it will be less famous than the first. However, history will remember that the first shoe of Nike on which the Swoosh is not there was the one created by the Jordan Brand.
At the end of 1990, the powerful equipment manufacturer will form other partnerships that will allow it to provide several sports equipment to athletes who participate in major competitions such as the Tour de France. The association of Nike with Bauer in the United States will allow him to be the supplier of ice hockey.
Nike had the intention to dominate the running world with its productions. But it is in the world of basketball that it will finally focus all its energy. It will then be taken by speed by its competitors in this field. She decided to resume the conquest of the world of running with the release of a new shoe at the forefront of technology. It is a model that was created in 1985 by its interior designer Tinker Hatfield according to the principles of the brand. It should be noted that the latter is employed by the company since 1981. But he will eventually change his position to become a designer. And as such, he will create many famous sneakers.
The first on the list is undoubtedly the Air Max 1. This iconic shoe launched in 1987 and beloved by all sneaker addicts because of its design and comfort has created a revolution in the world of sneakers of this type. But before getting there, the designer had to use everything he learned in architecture, especially at the Centre Pompidou in Paris. In fact, the concept was born in Hatfield's mind while he was in Paris. It was then that the idea ofcreating the sole with a window-like opening was born. In order to make the Air-Sole technology visible, it will be found in the sole of the Air Max 1 model as in all the other models of the Air Max range.
Three years later, Hatfield will create Air Max 90, as it was launched in 1990. It is this model that will replace the Air Max 1. Like the first, it will soon find a place in the illustrious heritage of sneakers that are part of the life of Nike. On this version, we find a breach in the sole and a bubble more considerable than what existed on the former. The AM90's less-than-hostile design, which features a trailing line placed above the shoe, is something that catches everyone's attention. This is done on purpose, as the element symbolizes an invitation to move forward, which is a characteristic of running. Note that until 1990, the world of running was still dominated by Nike's competitors.
The works of Hatfield will be continued by other designers namely: Sergio Lozano who will create the 95 version and Christian Tresser who will create the 97 version. The designers of Nike never fail to be inspired by the two emblematic works of Tinker during their creation. In order to satisfy the demands of its customers, Nike will mix several aspects of its many models of shoes. Thus, several exceptional creations will be launched as those made official during the event "Air Max Day" which always gathers the fans.
All Nike items designed for fitness are marked by the Swoosh and the slogan known by all: "Just Do It". With these three words launched in 1988, Nike wants to show its public that it is closer than ever to them, even if its communication policy seems to turn mainly to professional athletes. This slogan is also welcome, because it will encourage Americans to practice more sports. They are numerous to suffer from obesity as well as procrastination.
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