Nike,headquartered in Beaverton, Oregon, is the largest and most successful brand of shoes, sports equipment, clothing, and controlling more than 60% of the market and becoming a pop culture icon. One might say that the Greek Goddess of Victory for which Nike was named is actually the Goddess of Shoes. Nike may be one of the youngest of the major brands, but it is the dominant brand around the world.In 1963-1964 when University of Portland track coach, Bill Bowerman, and Phil Knight, a mid-distance runner joined forces to import and provide low-cost, high tech running shoes from Japan in order to provide alternatives to the German-dominated athletic shoe market. Operating under the name Blue Ribbon Sports, Bowerman and Knight began to sell the Japanese Onitsuke Tiger (now known as ASICS) running shoes. Jeff Johnson, a former rival of Knight, joins the company in 1965 as their first full-time salesperson and sells shoes from the back of his van at local and regional track meets until opening Blue Ribbon Sports’ first retail outlet at 3107 Pico Blvd, Santa Monica California. Click here to see a picture of the Blue Ribbon Sports location in the present day. This store is no longer in existence, but the address remains.Blue Ribbon Sports officially incorporates in 1967 and does business under this name until approximately 1970 when Bowerman’s desire to improve on the shoe designs of Onitsuke Tiger and Knight’s ambition to do more than simply import and resell running shoes. Inspiration must have struck Bill Bowerman over breakfast one morning because he borrowed the family waffle iron and pour rubber into to create the prototype for the now famous Nike Waffle Outsole. This invention led Bowerman and Knight to begin designing other shoes, and the company’s new name, Nike, Inc. was born when Jeff Johnson, dreams of the Greek goddess of victory, Nike. A succession of shoes, many based on the waffle outsole follows. Some of the most famous are the Waffle Racer, Air Force One, Air Max 93, Max 95, and Air Max 97.
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