Ever wondered why your favourite trainers got their names? OK, everyone knows that Nike was the Greek god of victory (we hope), and it wouldn’t take a genius to work out where the Air Jordan got its name from, but some other names are rather more obscure.
Converse Chuck Taylor
Chuck Taylor’s a name that practically everyone’s had gracing their feet at one point, but who was he? Converse were a brand trying to sell more sneakers, Chuck Taylor was a former hoops star who would promote the sport and the shoe to whole new audiences, including designing the US Olympics Team’s basketball shoe, and running basketball clinics for troops during the war. His basketball clinics at home were also immensely popular, leading to the Converse All Star becoming the bestselling sports shoe ever.
The name might sound South African, but the shoe’s English. J.W. Fosters and Sons was a venerable English shoe company, then in 1958, two of the sons decided to start an athletic shoe company. Joe Foster had won a dictionary in a race as a boy, and decided to riffle through it for inspiration. The dictionary was a South African edition, in Afrikaans, and the word ‘reebok’, for a small swift African antelope, stood out.
Not an acronym for All Day I Dream About Soccer, as some believe, but in fact a portmanteau name made of the original owner’s name. Adi Dassler, was the German businessman who founded the company in 1949. Before starting Adidas, Dassler had worked with his brother Rudi, the brothers famously making together the shoes Jesse Owens wore to win at the 1936 Olympics. In 1948, however, Adi and Rudi wnet their separate ways to work on their individual projects. Adidas was a massive hit, obviously, and Rudi didn’t do too badly with his own venture, Puma.
ASICS is an acronym, but since it’s in Latin, you’d be forgiven for not realising that. The shoes are actually Japanese, ultimately products of the Japanese heritage footwear brand Onitsuka, and the acronym stands for ‘anima sana in corpore sano’ – a healthy mind in a healthy body, to you and me.
Puma Clydes are suede, sophisticated numbers that have found favour with style tribes from skate punks to mod revivalists, but were originally designed in 1973 for Walt Frazier, the flamboyant New York Knicks player. He wanted his Puma basketball shoes in a wider fit, which Puma happily did for him, to received an endorsement from this famously cool gentleman. Puma bestowed the shoe with Frazier’s nickname, “Clyde”, which he’d picked up from an old trainer who thought he dressed like natty gangster, Clyde Barrow, of Bonnie and Clyde fame.
Now you know where the names of some of your favourite trainers come from, you can make an even better informed purchasing decision next time you’re shopping for shoes.