Their logos adorn the shoes worn by the most famous athletes in the world. They actually bid for the right to provide an athlete the footwear he would use for his competitions. In return, the said athlete would provide his endorsement and, hopefully, the millions of adoring fans around the world would heed his advice and follow his example by buying sneakers from the same brand.
How many of us have bought our sports idol’s shoes hoping that we could replicate his moves, jump a little higher, run a little faster and control the ball a little better by gearing up with the same footwear brand? Here is a list of the top 10 most popular brands of sports shoes in the world.
Nike is an American company founded in 1964 as Blue Ribbon Sports. It changed its name in 1978 to Nike, who is the Greek goddess of victory. Its “Just Do It” slogan and swoosh logo are some of the most recognizable marketing items in the world today. It is considered to be the leading supplier of athletic shoes and apparel. Its first endorser was Ilie Nastase, a tennis star back in the 1970s from Romania. It also had legendary track athletes in its roster, including Steve Prefontaine, Carl Lewis, Jackie Joyner-Kersee and Sebastian Coe. The company’s signing of Michael Jordan, however, proved to be its biggest coup.
Adolf Dassler established Adidas in 1948 in Germany. It can trace its roots, however, to 1924 when the Gebruder Dassler Schuhfabrik was founded by Adolf and his brother, Rudolf. The two split up in 1949, however, with Rudolf establishing Puma. The basic design of Adidas is the three parallel bars, which is also incorporated in the company’s logo. Its endorsers include legendary basketball players like Pete Maravich, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Jerry West, James Worthy, John Havlicek and Elgin Baylor. Current athletes on its roster include Lionel Messi, Kaka, Lucas Moura, David Beckham, Derrick Rose and Dwight Howard.
The company was founded in 1895 as J.W. Foster and Sons in England. It came from a desire by the founder to create a spiked running shoe for his sons. In 1958, his grandsons, Joe and Jeff, renamed the company as Reebok, which is the Afrikaan spelling of rhebok, a type of antelope or gazelle native to the continent. Paul Fireman brought it to the United States in 1979 after seeing a pair in an international trade show. Endorsers include Eli Manning, Phillip Rivers, Peyton Manning, Tim Lincecum and Justin Verlander. Reebok has been a subsidiary of Adidas since 2005.
Following the disagreement between Adolf and Rudolf Dassler, Adolf formed Adidas in 1948 while Rudolf countered with Ruda. He later changed it to Puma.
The brothers had hit a goldmine before the split when they convinced Jesse Owens to wear their shoes in the 1936 Summer Olympics in Berlin. Afterwards, the brothers started to grow apart. Both became members of the Nazi party, but Rudolf blamed his brother for his arrest by American soldiers. The two brands became bitter rivals and divided their town. Even their sons got involved after Puma violated an agreement not to outdo each other in trying to get Pele’s endorsement in the 1970 World Cup. Its other endorsers included Eusebio, Johan Cruyff, Joe Namath and Walt Frazier.
Marquis Mills Converse established the company in 1908 as the Converse Rubber Shoe Company. In 1915, it began making tennis shoes. A company milestone occurred in 1917 when a basketball player named Charles H. Taylor walked into its office because of sore feet. He designed a high-top sneaker that became the classic we know today as “Chuck Taylor.” It was the shoe worn by Wilt Chamberlain when he scored 100 points in an NBA game in 1962. Michael Jordan was also wearing a Converse when he converted the winning basket in the 1982 NCAA finals. It was the official shoes of the NBA for a long time, with legends like Magic Johnson, Larry Bird and Julius Erving all wearing it. Sadly, it has now disappeared from the league. The last player to wear a Converse on the court was Udonis Haslem, but he switched to Li-Ning in November 2012. Nike has owned Converse since 2003 after a $305 million buyout.
6. New Balance
New Balance was established in 1906 as the New Balance Arch Support Company. It seldom goes on expensive advertising campaigns. Its shoes are also typically more expensive than its rivals because it maintains manufacturing plants in the U.S. and the U.K. Its shoes are known by its model numbers as the company prefer not to give it names that would distract from the emphasis on the New Balance name.
Fila Ltd. was established in 1911 in Italy. It is known for its logo that features its name in snakelike letters. It used to be endorsed by Boris Becker and Bjorn Borg. It collapsed in 2003, however, forcing it to sell to a hedge fund company. Fila Korea, however, was a distinct company and it bought all the rights to the company in 2007.
The brothers Art and Ernie Brunner of Switzerland founded k-Swiss in Los Angeles in 1966. It was the first company to create leather tennis shoes. The white stripe on white leather design was considered a classic, so much so that Steven Nichols bought out the company in 1986. Popularity further increased with their “Put Your Spin on It” campaign that allowed users to customize the stripes’ color.
It is an abbreviation for “anima sana in corpore sano,” which is Latin for a healthy soul in a healthy body. It was established in Japan in 1949 as Panmure Co. Ltd. Endorsers include Newcastle, Sunderland, Leeds and Aston Villa football teams.
Li-Ning is a Chinese company established in 1990. It created ripples in the NBA when it signed Shaquille O’Neal to a contract in 2006. In 2012, it made its biggest score when Dwayne Wade of the Miami Heat agreed to endorse its product. His teammate Udonis Haslem has since followed suit.
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