Onitsuka Tiger vs ASICS: Which Shoe Brand is Best?

Onitsuka Tiger vs ASICS
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Attention, sneakerheads. If you're on the hunt for the perfect pair of kicks, chances are you're considering two of the biggest names in trainers: Onitsuka Tiger and ASICS.

These icons have been a household name in the trainer game for over half a century, but which one reigns supreme? Let’s lace up and find out in this guide from the Slingo lifestyle blog

Introduction: Stepping into Sneaker History

Before we dive into the showdown, let's take a brief journey through the fascinating history of two footwear giants.

Onitsuka Tiger

Founded in 1949 by Kihachiro Onitsuka, Onitsuka Tiger began its journey in Kobe, Japan, with a mission to create high-quality shoes for athletes. Inspired by the post-war fitness boom and the demand for running shoes, Onitsuka's dedication to innovation quickly gained recognition. In the early 1950s, his shoes were worn by top athletes across Japan, solidifying the brand's reputation for excellence in athletic footwear.

In 1963, American entrepreneur Phil Knight and his coach Bill Bowerman founded Blue Ribbon Sports to distribute Onitsuka Tiger shoes in the United States. This partnership marked the beginning of a transformative journey for both brands as they collaborated to introduce Japanese-made athletic shoes to the American market.

The popularity of Onitsuka Tiger shoes among runners and athletes in the US led to Knight and Bowerman making and selling their own shoes and rebranding Blue Ribbon Sports to Nike in 1971.

Read about two of Nike’s most iconic trainers in our Nike Dunk vs Air Force 1 comparison guide.

ASICS

Meanwhile, Onitsuka Co. Ltd. continued to innovate and evolve in Japan, eventually rebranding ASICS in 1977.

The name ASICS is an acronym derived from the Latin phrase "Anima Sana In Corpore Sano," which translates to "a sound mind in a sound body." This new identity reflected the brand's holistic approach to health and fitness, emphasising the importance of physical activity in maintaining overall well-being.

Onitsuka Tiger vs ASICS: Head-to-Head Comparison

Quality

As Onitsuka Tiger is a brand under the ASICS umbrella, both brands’ shoes will go through similar product testing processes, meaning there are considerable similarities, particularly in quality, although there are some differences…

Renowned for meticulous craftsmanship since 1949, Onitsuka Tiger shoes epitomise quality. Each pair is crafted with precision using durable materials to ensure optimal longevity and performance. From iconic designs to modern innovations, Onitsuka Tiger is a fashion brand that maintains a standard of excellence that earns them a solid rating.

Similarly, ASICS shoes are synonymous with quality and have a legacy of delivering reliable performance. While some consumers note occasional manufacturing inconsistencies, overall, ASICS offers durability and comfort, and the brand’s commitment to excellence in athletic footwear can’t be ignored.

Onitsuka Tiger quality: 9/10

ASICS quality: 9/10

Cost

While not the most budget-friendly option, Onitsuka Tigers offer exceptional value for the quality they provide. Investing in a pair means investing in timeless classics built to last, though it may require a slightly higher upfront cost. The balance of quality and value earns Onitsuka Tiger a respectable rating.

Striking a balance between quality and affordability, ASICS makes sneakers accessible to a broad audience. Whether you're a seasoned athlete or a casual wearer, options are available to fit various budgets without compromising performance. ASICS’s combination of affordability and uncompromising quality helps them take the top spot in this section.

Onitsuka Tiger cost: 7/10

ASICS cost: 8/10

Variety

Boasting diverse styles, Onitsuka Tiger caters to a broad spectrum of tastes and preferences. From retro-inspired classics, like the Mexico 66, to modern silhouettes, like the Dentigre LS, its range has something for everyone. Whether you're into vintage vibes or contemporary design, Onitsuka Tiger has you covered with an extensive collection that looks and feels great.

With a vast catalogue tailored to athletes and fashion enthusiasts, ASICS boasts an impressive array of sneakers. Countless colourways, collaborations, and specialised designs ensure there's something for every wearer. ASICS’s commitment to providing diverse options earns them a commendable score.

Onitsuka Tiger variety: 8/10

ASICS variety: 9/10

Has reading about the athletics-inspired designs of Onitsuka Tiger and ASICS encouraged you to get active? Check out our Gymshark vs Lululemon to see which gym wear brand comes out on top. 

Cultural Impact

From the streets of Tokyo to exclusive events and fashion runways worldwide, Onitsuka's iconic designs have left an unmistakable mark on sneaker culture. Its influence transcends generations, shaping trends and defining style with a timeless allure.

Synonymous with sophistication and innovation, the Onitsuka Tiger Mexico 66 has been sported by some of the world's most stylish people, including Bella Hadid, Hailey Bieber and Kaia Gerber. And who can forget Uma Thurman’s iconic portrayal of the Onitsuka-clad Bride in Quentin Tarantino’s Kill Bill films?

Although ASICS may fly under the radar compared to some of its competitors, the brand has made significant contributions to sneaker and running shoe culture. Collaborations with athletes and iconic designers such as Ronnie Fieg, Sean Wotherspoon and Vivienne Westwood have elevated the brand's status and cemented its place in fashion and the cultural zeitgeist. The presence of ASICS may be subtle, but it sure is impactful.

Onitsuka Tiger cultural impact: 9/10

ASICS cultural impact: 8/10

Innovation

Balancing tradition with modernity, Onitsuka Tiger continues to innovate while preserving its rich heritage. Its focus on evolving classic designs with contemporary materials and technologies ensures its relevance in an ever-changing market. While not pushing boundaries aggressively, Onitsuka Tiger continually refreshes colourways and reworks designs for their iconic sneakers. The brand’s commitment to evolution despite its established history earns it a top rating.

By comparison, ASICS is renowned for pushing the envelope in athletic footwear technology and excelling in innovation. A primary focus on creating competitive running shoes for long-distance athletes means ASICS cannot afford to stand still. Constant advancements in cushioning, stability, and performance ensure its sneakers remain at the forefront of the industry. Whether you're hitting the track or the streets, ASICS delivers the latest in athletic footwear technology year after year.

Onitsuka Tiger innovation: 7/10

ASICS innovation: 9/10

Sustainability

As they’re part of the same company, both ASICS and Onitsuka Tiger’s eco-friendly practices are largely the same, with the companies taking steps towards sustainability by investing in more eco-friendly manufacturing processes and material sourcing.

Despite this, the ASICS Corporation has been rated as ‘Not good enough’ by the fashion directory Good on You, which judges brands’ sustainability rating based on their approaches to the planet, people and animals. 

Onitsuka Tiger sustainability: 6/10

ASICS sustainability: 6/10

Onitsuka Tiger vs ASICS: Final Scores Revealed

So, which brand takes the crown? Now both runners have had the chance to cool off, let’s see who came out on top in the battle of Onitsuka Tiger vs. ASICS.

Drumroll, please...

Onitsuka Tiger: 46/60

ASICS: 49/60

By a hair's-width, ASICS has won it. The brand’s consistency over our six criteria is what wins a spot on top of the podium.

The choice between these two brands largely comes down to personal preference and what speaks to your style and needs. Whichever brand you choose, you're sure to step up your sneaker game and make a statement whether you opt for ASICS or Onitsuka Tiger.

The comparison doesn’t have to stop there. If you’re still craving to read about sneakers, 

why not read our blog about Veja Esplar vs Campo while you’re here?

Feeling inspired? Elevate your sneaker game with Slingo!

There’s nothing like the feel of a brand-new pair of trainers, so why not boost your budget with a win from Slingo?

With the best slots in the UK and online bingo games, you could be stepping out in a pair of ASICS or Onitsuka Tigers in no time.

Interested in the latest trends? Our lifestyle blog has a selection of great guides to help you improve your wardrobe, including:

FAQs

Are Onitsuka Tiger and ASICS the Same Company?

Onitsuka Tiger became ASICS in 1977 when the brand merged with GTO, Jelenk and others. Since then, ASICS has run Onitsuka Tiger as a lifestyle brand. 

Why is Onitsuka Tiger so Popular?

Onitsuka Tiger trainers are famous for their classic silhouettes and top-quality materials. The general look of Onitsuka Tiger shoes, like the Mexico 66, has stayed the same since their introduction and pays homage to the brand’s roots in athletics. However, more contemporary silhouettes have been introduced alongside the classics, a sign that the iconic brand’s finger remains on the pulse of the fashion industry. 

Did Bruce Lee Wear Onitsuka Tiger?

Bruce Lee is known for wearing Onitsuka Tiger Mexico 66 trainers, which he famously wore in the 1978 film, Game of Death. In the movie, Lee's character wears a red, white, and blue colourway and a pair of yellow and black shoes, the latter of which is also worn by Uma Thurman in the Kill Bill films.


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