What’s in a name?

27th-29th June: Athletics: British Championships: Birmingham
27th-29th June: Athletics: British Championships: Birmingham

What a month June is for sports? You could be glued to the tele all day and not get bored.

As an inspiration, I thought about looking at what the meanings are behind the names of iconic men’s athletic shoes.

Nike was previously known as “The Blue Ribbon Sports” and was renamed in 1971. According to Wikipedia, Nike is the Greek goddess of victory. If they had gone with the preferred name of Phil Knight (one of the founders’), today Nike would have been know as “Dimension 6”.

Nothing adds to a drama than a family feud and there certainly was a feud of WW2 proportions for the Dassler brothers. Adidas as founded in 1948 by Adolf Dassler….. a portmanteau of ADI..olf and DAS..sler. Many believe that the acronym “All Day I Dream of Soccer” is what Adidas stands for, but this is not so, however interesting and sporty it may be, it is only a wives tale about the Adidas name. Not to be outdone by his brother, Rudolf Dassler founded Puma. The original company was called Ruda (another portmanteau), only to be changed to the name we know it as today PUMA. The Puma, is a wildcat, mountain lion and other names around the globe and conjures up the image of a powerful predator which is incredibly adaptive in it’s habitat.

Two brands which are from Japan and grew in demand as sports became accessible to the masses are Mizuno and Asics. Mizuno is a family name of a Japanese clan linked to the Edo Period of rule from 1603-1867. The Edo period, was known for it’s enjoyment of arts and culture, and in 1906 when the Mizuno brand was founded, Japan was an emerging contender in the global sporting arena, thanks partly to the Olympics. Asics was originally called the “Onitsuka Tiger Running Shoe”. Asics stands for “Anima Sana in Corpore Sano”, translated means “a sound mind in a sound body”.

1906 was also the year that the shoemaker William J Riley prototyped an arch support. This arch support made shoes more comfortable and was sold to such professions as the police or waiters. The company grew and became New Balance. To this day it still holds secrets….well in a way.. about how New Balance decide upon their numerical naming system for their shoes. This has been discussed by many, including the Blog, Complex (http://www.complex.com/sneakers/2014/04/new-balance-names-their-shoes-the-secret) and Huh Magazine (http://www.huhmagazine.co.uk/6585/how-new-balance-name-their-shoes). Both articles discuss the thought process of Arthur Heckler, preferring each shoe to be bought on it’s merits of performance rather than emotional or idealogical attachments associated with names.

The final iconic names in athletic men’s shoes I shall talk about are famous due to their rise to fame in the 1970’s. These are the iconic yellow boots of Timberland and the cool, functionality of Vans. The Abington family decided to call their workmen yellow boots Timberland, and due to the boots success, they renamed the company after them in 1973. Vans were found by Paul Van Doren in 1966 and take their names from their founder, however you might prefer to think of them as being labelled Vans, because of the strong link to skateboarders who wore them in their VW vans.

My thoughts are only a few and I hope they will inspire you or remind you of your favourite brand and what’s in a name.

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  • Hey there! This post couldn’t be written any better!
    Reading this post reminds me of my good old room mate!
    He always kept talking about this. I will forward this article to him.
    Pretty sure he will have a good read. Many thanks for sharing!

    • Thank you Shannon.

      It’s great getting feedback. I am always looking into news and features on Men’s shoes.

      Give me a shout if you want me to find out more info for you or your friends.

      Better still, get a photo of the shoes you love on the men you love and add to the Blog. I will follow it up with an article relevant to the photo.

      Bye for now