Where Did They Get That Name? Sports Shoe Brands

Where Did They Get That Name? Sports Shoe Brands

Where Did They Get That Name?

You likely know the story behind the Nike name. But do you know what Phil Knight first called his company,  — or why 14 other famous sports-shoe brands from Adidas to Skora got to be named what they are. 

Adidas

A contraction of Adolph “Adi” Dassler, one of two warring German siblings who divided up their Dassler Brothers Shoe Factory business after World War II. Brother Rudolph — after one false start (see 11 slides on) — named his half, Puma.

Altra

Golden Harper made the first versions of his zero-drop shoes by popping traditional running shoes in a toaster oven so he could peel away the sole to extract the excess heel elevation. As he and his co-founders were distance runners, when they started their company in 2009 they created a portmanteau word from altered shoes for ultras.

ASICS

Formed from a 1977 merger of three Japanese sportswear manufacturers, Onitsuka Tiger, GTO and Jelen, the new company took its name from an acronym of the Latin phrase anima sana in corpore sano, or "a healthy soul in a healthy body."

Brooks

There was no Mr Books, but there was a Miss Bruchs. Originally a maker of bathing shoes when it was founded in Philadelphia in 1914, and subsequently of baseball and football cleats, Brooks took its name from the Anglicized version of the maiden name of founder Morris Goldenberg’s wife.

Converse

But there was a Mr Converse – Marquis Mills Converse who ran the Converse Rubber Shoe Co., which at the start of the 20th century produced rubber soled winter shoes for Bostonians and other New Englanders. He started making tennis shoes in 1915 to give him summer sales, but his breakthrough came with the first Converse All-Star basketball shoe two years later.

Dunlop

Named for John Boyd Dunlop, a Scottish vet and inventor, who created the first working pneumatic tire in 1888 — to help alleivate headaches his bicycle-riding son got from bouncing around on solid wheels, the story goes. The Dunlop Rubber company diversified into tennis rackets and footwear in the 1920s.

Hoka

The make of the fat-soled running shoe designed to minimize the jolt of impact takes its name from a Maori word that means ‘now is the time to fly.”

K-Swiss

Two Swiss brothers, Art and Ernie Brunner, started an eponymous business in Los Angeles in 1966 importing Künzli's unusual for the time leather tennis shoes from their homeland. They changed the company name to K-Swiss when they started producing their own shoes in the 1970s.

Mizuno

There was not one Mizuno-san, but two. Brothers Rihachi and Rizo Mizuno founded a shop in Osaka, Japan in 1906 to sell western sporting goods such as baseballs. They started manufacturing baseballs and gloves in 1913 and the company expanded into sports apparel, skis, golf clubs, and, in the early 1980s its first line of running shoes, Run Birds.

New Balance

Started life in 1906 as the New Balance Arch Support Co., a Boston company that made accessories to improve the fit and comfort of everyday shoes. It made its first running shoe, the Trackster, in 1960. The shoes pioneering ripple sole became popular with local and then national college track and cross-country teams.

Nike

Named after the Greek goddess of victory, but founders Phil Knight and Bill Bowerman first called the company Blue Ribbon Sports (BRS) until changing the name in 1971. BRS was originally a distributor of the running shoes of the Japanese firm Onitsuka Tiger, one of the forerunners of ASICS.  

Puma

When Rudolph Dassler acrimoniously split with his brother Adolph in the late 1940’s, he called his half of their divided shoe company, Ruda, from the two first letters of his given and family names. Rapidly realizing his brother had the catchier contraction, Adidas, Rudi morphed the name of his company into Puma — a big cat that pointedly does not have stripes.

Reebok

Originally a family firm in England, J.W. Foster & Sons, that pioneered running spikes in the 19th century. In the 1950s, the founder’s grandsons renamed the company after an Afrikaans word for a species of southern African antelope, having spotted the name in a dictionary one of them had won in a foot race.

Saucony

Saucony is an old spelling of Sacony, the name of a creek that flows through Kutztown, Pennsylvania, and from which a shoe factory founded on its banks in 1898 took its name. This shoemaker was bought by Cambridge, Mass.-based Hyde Athletic Industries in the late 1960s. As its acquisition became its main brand, Hyde changed its corporate name to Saucony in the late 1990s.

Skora

Founder David Sypniewski wanted his shoes to feel like a second skin "from first touch to last mile." So when he was launching his company in 2012 he reached into his native Polish for the word that means skin, skóra.