The Entire History Of Nike - Part 4

Before Nike took off two things needed to happen.

  • Well, Nike needed to be created

  • The partnership between Blue Ribbons and Onitsuka Tiger needed to be concluded.

This post is about how those two things came to happen.

Image source

After forcefully signing a deal they didn't like with Onitsuka Tiger, Blue Ribbons and Buck saw it necessary that they begin to manufacture their own shoes through a factory in Mexico.

The Creation Of Nike

Time was of the essence as Buck and Bowerman needed to come off with their own brand name and logo. That is why they hired a college student by the name of Carolyn Davidson who designed The Swoosh that you see on every Nike product. Carolyn was paid 35$ for that design.

Fun fact: Buck didn't like the design at all and the rest weren't big fans either. However, due to them being in a hurry, they agreed to go with it.

The logo was done and all that is left was the name.

Buck suggested the name Dimension 6, but no one else liked it. Jeff Johnson, who went from being a satisfied customer into a salesman, suggested that they call the company Nike after the Greek Goddess of victory.

Buck also didn't like the name, however, much like the logo, it was approved due to urgency.

First Time's NOT The Charm

Nike's first-ever shoe failed horribly. The reason it failed was due to the bottom half getting separated from the rest in cold weather. Not only that, the bank stopped giving the company loans and said that the contract would be terminated once Buck pays them back.

Buck worked hard to get a loan from another bank, but it was a useless one as the amount was too little to do much with it.

A Second Life

Buck needed someone who could back the company. Someone who appreciates the fact that the company may not be bringing a lot of profit now but will in the future.

It is worth noting that at the time, the sales numbers were doubling each year, reaching 1.3 million dollars in sales. So, the company was growing.

Buck went once more to Japan, this time not for Onitsuka Tiger but for a company called Nissho Iwai whom he got in contact with through his contacts in the United States.

The two agreed that they would support him financially and get him into contact with local factories in Japan that specialize in manufacturing shoes. That's how he got to work with Thai Nippon Rubber, a Bridgestone, the tires company, factory.

Everything's Looking Up

Buck showed them the designs of shoes he has, including Bowerman's designs that he created for Onitsuka Tiger, Nylon Cortez. It didn't take time for the factories to send him samples. They weren't great but marginally more efficient. That's why Nike ordered thousands of shoes.

Nike was using the money Blue Ribbons makes by selling Onitsuka Tiger's shoes. That's how Onitsuka Tiger ended up suing Buck and his companies, Blue Ribbons and Nike.

The Lawsuit

Onitsuka Tiger's point of view was that Blue Ribbons owners were still in contract with them as represented thus they can't work with another supplier under a different name. There was also the fact that the Nylon Cortez shoes were manufactured by Onitsuka Tiger at the time.

Buck and his companies filed a counter lawsuit stating that Onitsuka Tiger was unprofessional with the way they conducted business and including the many times they would deliver the samples late.

All Problems Solved

In one giant sweep, Buck's problems were solved. His contact with Onitsuka Tiger was terminated, freeing him to deal with whomever he wants. But, the biggest victory came in the form of Blue Ribbons getting rewarded 400,000$ dollars from Onitsuka Tiger giving Buck the capital he needed to grow Nike even more.

Nike looked destined for the stars if it wasn't for the fact that the Japanese yen's value was growing in comparison to the U.S dollar. That meant the cost of production would increase, creating a whole new headache for Buck that I will go through in the next part.

Previous Parts Of The Series

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3

Below Are The Sources For The Entire Series

Bowerman and the Men of Oregon: The Story of Oregon's Legendary Coach and Nike's Co-founder - Kenny Moore

ADI DASsler’s “Impossible is Nothing” and “The Miracle of Bern”

The weird and wonderful history of the Onitsuka Tiger

The Family Feud That Led To Multiple Billion Dollar Businesses

Why Inspiration Matters


How Blue Ribbon Sports Became Nike

Nike vs Adidas: Who is Leading the Market?

Sneaker Wars: How Nike Eclipsed Rival Adidas Over The Years And Who’s Winning Now

adidas vs. Nike: 3 Moments in History That Changed the Sneaker Game

Jordan Brand Leads Nike Resurgence in Sales and Shares

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Greek goddess of Victory ..I liked that...I have never looked up the history of the shoe brand we all shout or cry for...We just care about the Airforce or AirMax...

Nike is GOATED