Nike is one of the world's most iconic sportswear brands and has undergone a remarkable journey from a small startup to a global industry leader. Today, Nike enjoys immense popularity and has cultivated a devoted following, particularly among vintage thrifters.
As part of the celebration of Nike's 50th anniversary, we have curated an extensive Vintage Nike collection. Each piece has been carefully selected, laundered, photographed, and styled at our HQ in Barnsley, South Yorkshire.
Keep reading to discover everything you need to know about Nike's history and explore the very best of Vintage Nike Clothing.
Nike History FAQs
When Was Nike Founded?
Nike was founded on the 25th January 1964 by Bill Bowerman and Phil Knight. Bill Bowerman was a track and field coach at the University of Oregon, and Phil Knight was one of his former athletes.
They initially established the brand under the name Blue Ribbon Sports (BRS) and operated as a distributor for the Japanese shoe company Onitsuka Tiger (now ASICS). However the pair were inspired to create their own line of athletic footwear and in 1971 they transitioned from being a distributor to designing and manufacturing their own shoes under the brand name Nike.
Over the years, Nike grew rapidly, introducing innovative products and establishing itself as a leading athletic footwear and apparel brand. Today, Nike is a global powerhouse in the sportswear industry, offering a wide range of products and sponsoring numerous sports stars and professional teams around the world.
Nike has not only achieved immense popularity as a performance sportswear brand, but it has also emerged as a highly sought-after vintage streetwear brand.
How Did Nike Get Its Name?
Originally named Blue Ribbon, the brand changed its name to Nike in 1971. The founders of Nike, Bill Bowerman and Phil Knight took their inspiration from the Greek goddess of victory, also named Nike.
They chose the name Nike as it symbolised the brand's vision to excel in the world of athletic footwear and apparel. The name "Nike" also aligned with the company's mission to empower athletes and celebrate the spirit of victory and achievement.
What Does The Nike Logo Mean?
The Nike logo, also known as the "Nike Swoosh," was designed by a graphic design student Carolyn Davidson in 1971. The Nike Swoosh embodies motion, speed, and the brand's athletic identity. It is also said to represent the wing of Nike, the Greek goddess of victory.
Nike History Timeline
1964: Bill Bowerman and Phil Knight founded the company, formally known as Blue Ribbon Sports
1971: Bill Bowerman and Phil Knight cut ties with the Onitsuka Tiger (now Asics) and Blue Ribbon became Nike. The infamous Swoosh logo was created by student Carolyn Davis of Portland State University for $35!! Not even the equivalent to a three course meal.
1972: Nike signs its first athlete endorsement deal with Romanian tennis player Ilie Năstase.
1979: Nike introduces the "Air" technology with the launch of the Air Tailwind running shoe.
1984: Nike partners with Michael Jordan, launching the Air Jordan line of sneakers.Nike's collaboration with Michael Jordan is one of the most iconic and influential partnerships in the history of sports and fashion.
1987: The “Just Do It” campaign first launches. The infamous slogan was inspired by the line “Let’s Do It” said by the serial killer Garry Gilmore as he was executed by a firing squad in 1977. The very first Just Do It ad features an 80-year-old runner running across the Golden Gate Bridge.
1989: "Bo Knows" ad campaign drops featuring baseball and football star Bo Jackson.
1996: Nike signed Tiger Woods in 1996 when he was just beginning his professional golf career, and the collaboration helped shape both his and Nike's trajectory. Nike and Woods partnership spanned over two decades and made a profound impact on the world of golf and sports marketing.
1997: Nike unveils the "Nike Air Max 97," featuring full-length visible air cushioning.
1999: Nike co-founder Bill Bowerman dies at 88.
2000: Nike introduces Nike Shox, a line of sneakers featuring responsive cushioning technology.
2002: Nike acquires Hurley International, a popular surf and youth lifestyle brand.
2003: Nike acquires Converse, an iconic footwear brand known for its Chuck Taylor All Star sneakers.
2004: Phil Knight steps down as CEO, and William D. Perez becomes the CEO of Nike.
2005: Nike launches the Nike SB line, specialising in skateboarding footwear and apparel.
2006: Mark Parker becomes the CEO of Nike, succeeding William D. Perez.
2010: Nike signs an endorsement deal with basketball player LeBron James, launching the LeBron James signature shoe line.
2012: Nike becomes an official supplier for NFL apparel.
2016: Nike celebrates the 30th anniversary of the Air Jordan line with special releases and events.
2017: Nike becomes an official supplier for NBA apparel.
2018: Nike signs a lifetime endorsement deal with basketball player LeBron James.
2021: Nike exists as the largest supplier of athletic shoes, apparel and other sporting equipment.
2022: Nike celebrates their 50th year round the sun.
Nike 50th Anniversary
Nike's 50 year journey from a small startup to a global sportswear powerhouse is a testament to its relentless innovation and iconic brand building. From the founding of Blue Ribbon Sports to the introduction of the Nike name and the creation of the famous Swoosh logo, Nike has left an indelible mark on the world of sports and fashion.
As Nike celebrates its 50th anniversary, we’d like to take this opportunity to reflect on its rich history and the impact it has made on the world of sports fashion. Our curated Vintage Nike collection serves as a homage to Nike's heritage, offering a unique opportunity to own a piece of the brand's iconic past. Whether you're a sports enthusiast, a fashion lover, or a collector of vintage branded sportswear, our Vintage Nike collection has it all..