Nike History – The Story Everyone Should Know by Heart!

by: Tilda
November 20, 2021

Nike History – The Story Everyone Should Know by Heart!

Today, our story is bonfire-worthy! From a modest beginning of a dream to a brand the entire world knows, Nike did that. And if you ever wondered how Nike started the sneaker journey, we’re gonna answer that now! From a simple track runner to a massive brand with the biggest endorsements, Nike played the game right. So welcome to today’s dig in the past: the entire Nike history that every serious sneakerhead should know! And if you wanna go further with your sneaker knowledge, check out the Nike vs Adidas rivalry right here. Brace yourselves, it’s gonna be a ride full of footwear!

bill bowerman phil knight nike history

Nike History – How It All Started

Before we discuss the brand, we gotta talk about the founding fathers! Phil Knight was a college track runner, and his coach was none other than Bill Bowerman. Bowerman himself tinkered with sneakers because he believed in performance and speed. He tested the kicks on Phil Knight, and it worked. And during his MBA studies, Phil Knight wrote a paper about how moving sneaker production from Germany to Japan is a good idea. Bowerman agreed with him, and that prompted them to start a 50-50 partnership!

The partnership began under the name “Blue Ribbon Sports” in 1964. BRS started as a distribution company for the famous Onitsuka Tiger, aka Asics today. The first BRS retail store opened its doors in 1966, and the rest is history. Sales and distribution increased, and the brand started making a name for itself.

blue ribbon sports to nike history

From Blue Ribbon Sports to Nike

1971 marked the end of the BRS – Onitsuka partnership and the birth of Nike Inc. The name and the mighty Swoosh are inspired by the Greek goddess of victory, Nike. The designer of the logo is Carolyn Davidson, who got $34 only for her design initially. However, she got the recognition she deserves later on. And now she owns 500 shares of Nike Inc. that were worth $1M back in 2015! If you wanna read more about sneaker logos, check this out.

The First Shoes – A Piece of Nike History

A significant part of the Nike history comes from the first sneakers the company produced. The first silhouettes that launched in 1972 were the famous Moon Shoe and Nike Cortez. So Bill Bowerman was famous for tinkering and creating shoes. The famous “Moon Shoe” came to life thanks to Bowerman’s wife’s waffle machine! On the other hand, the Cortez is still a classic pair of sneakers that many like to have in their wardrobe. You can read the whole history of this silhouette here. But the most crucial bit is that the Onitsuka Tiger was the main inspiration being the Cortez!

moon shoe and nike cortez

Oregon – Where the Magic Happened

So Nike is famously an Oregon-based company. Although the first BRS retail store in 1966 was in California, the first official Nike retail store was NikeTown in Portland, Oregon. The store opened its doors back in 1990 when Nike moved into their headquarters in Beaverton. Although Niketown closed its doors in 2011, it reopened in a different location the same year. It was called Nike Portland, though. Nonetheless, it was sad to see a piece of history go.

first nike store

Endorsements Are a Big Part of Nike History too!

Although the brand was doing pretty well, it wasn’t just because it was awesome. Let’s not forget that Nike managed to hit the jackpot with the biggest endorsement ever. The Michael Jordan x Nike partnership will go down in sneaker history books as probably the most important deal ever. Back in 1984, MJ signed a contract with Nike as a promising rookie in the NBA. The brand paid him 250,000 dollars upfront, and he got his sneaker line! If that sounds interesting, you can check out the whole Air Jordan story.

Top 5 Nike endorsements:

nike history of athlete endorsements

Nike in Pop Culture and Art

Although Nike is first and foremost an athletic company, we can’t deny the pop culture and music industry’s effects. Nike and Jordan Brand both know the value of artist collaborations; that’s why we have had so many in the last years! So here are some of the artist collaborators with Nike so far. Although we’re barely gonna scratch the surface, we just wanted to mention some of the coolest names. 

nike celebrity collabs

What Does the Future Hold?

Although Nike’s history is impressive, the brand is always looking towards the future. And who knows what’s next in terms of partnerships and releases? All we have to do is wait and see because it just gets better year after year. In the meantime, you can take the time to check out the best sneaker bots on the market. If Nike stays as hype as it is now, you’ll need a bot to buy any of their kicks! Godspeed 🔥