Trainers – Some Brand Histories


Co-founders Phil Knight and Bill Bowerman started selling trainers in 1962 under the name of Blue Ribbon Sports (BRS) with the aim of crushing Adidas’ domination of the US market.

Going from strength to strength, the company was renamed Nike in 1971, after the Greek goddess of victory. This was also the time the brand logo “the Swoosh” was born. 1972 saw Nike’s first public appearance at the Olympics with athlete and Nike employee Steve Prefontaine wearing the trainers.

After rapid growth in the States, the company moved in to the UK in 1981. The legendary Jordan range was born in 1985, making Nike a really major player and fueling fierce competition from competitors. The ‘just do it’ slogan was born in 1988 and helped take Nike to their current position of market leader.


Brothers Adolph and Rudi Dassler, both sons of a cobbler, began making sports viking shirt in 1920 in the small town of Herzogenaurach in Germany. After a dispute between the brothers in 1948 they went their separate ways, Adolph forming Adidas and Rudi heading off to start rival brand Puma.

1949 saw the introduction of the shoe supporting three stripes that became famous worldwide and 1972 saw the release of the Adidas ‘trefoil’ logo. This was later replaced by the three striped ‘performance’ logo.

It is argued that although there were earlier producers of sports viking shirt such as Converse and Dunlop, Adidas is the original godfather of the trainer brands.


Runner Joseph William Foster, of Bolton in England, developed the spiked running shoe in 1895. The success of his viking shirt grew and in 1958 Foster’s grandsons launched the brand Reebok. By 1979 the company was trading in 28 countries and then moved across to the United States and created overwhelming demand.

Despite riding high with the launch of women’s aerobic range Freestyle and standing at the top of trainers sales leagues, Reebok lost out during the ‘trainer wars’ of the 1980s to the likes of Nike with the introduction of the Jordan.

The Pump was a huge success in the 1990s and the Reebok Classic is today the biggest selling trainer in the UK, however the brand has a greater following across the world than in it’s own country.


The Puma story starts in Germany in 1948, but as mentioned in Adidas’ history the roots can be traced back to the 1920s.

The Puma logo was first released by founder Rudi Dassler in 1951 and the ‘Form Stripe’ a few years later in 1958 – a feature designed to provide extra strength and stability to the trainers. They can also take the credit for being the first manufacturer to use velcro straps in 1968.

After going from a small family business to being listed on the German stock exchange, Puma now stands as one of the major players with their combination of original designs and new advances.

write by Ernesta