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How the Onitsuka Tiger Became the Nike Cortez

Image of Onitsuka Tiger and Nike Cortez
Image via The Sole Supplier

For a lot of us, Phil Knight has felt like the grandfather of sneakers, and as such, you would think he began his incredible journey with a pair of Swoosh emblazoned kicks; however, that wasn’t actually the case. It was a long and arduous road before the first Nike came about, and even when it reached that point, it was very much touch and go as to whether or not the brand would succeed.

Being a runner, Knight knew all about shoes. He knew what he liked, and what worked. So much so that during his time at Stanford University, he wrote a paper for his entrepreneurship class on the concept of importing Japanese running shoes in place of the current German forerunners (pardon the pun). Being a business buff, he knew Japan were at the forefront of, well, everything. Seemingly, if anyone did anything, the Japanese did it better, and Knight knew this.

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