As this Sunday's 33rd London marathon approaches, we bring you our top ten favourite facts about trainers – from the African gazelle behind the Reebok name to the unlikely man who inspired Nike's Just Do It slogan. Best of luck to all those taking part!
1. William Riley, who founded the New Balance Arch Company in 1906, based early designs on chicken's feet.
2. Carolyn Davidson, the Portland State University graphic design student who designed the Nike swoosh in 1971, was originally paid a meagre fee of $35. However, in 1983, Nike rewarded her with shares of its stock and a diamond ring featuring the swoosh.
3. The name Adidas was derived from the company's founder, Adolf "Adi" Dassler, and its three-stripe logo is rumoured to represent his three sons.
4. Reebok is named after an African gazelle called a rhebok.
5. Converse Chuck Taylor All-Stars, first marketed in 1917, are the all-time best-selling sneakers, with total sales nearing 600 million pairs. Interestingly, until 1966, they were only available in black and white.
"William Riley, founder of the New Balance Arch Company, based early designs on chicken's feet"
6. Asics is an acronym for the Latin phrase "Anima Sana In Corpore Sano," meaning "a sound mind in a sound body."
7. Listed as one of Advertising Age's top five ad slogans of the 20th century, Nike's Just Do It slogan was coined when Wieden-Kennedy agency co-founder Dan Wieden came across a newspaper article detailing American criminal Gary Gilmore's proclamation of, "Let's do it," as he was led to his execution. And the rest is history.
8. Phil Knight and Bill Bowerman started Blue Ribbon Sports, Nike’s forerunner company, with just $500 each. Additionally, before the company was renamed Nike, Phil Knight proposed the name Dimension 6.
9. The Nike Air Max 95 design was based on the human body. The midsole represents the spine, the graduated panels represent the muscles, the lace loops are the ribs, and the mesh represents the skin.
10. Van's was the first trainer manufacturer to introduce the concept of customised sneakers in March 1966. Founder Paul Van Doren believed in selling shoes directly to customers and allowed them to bring fabric to the factory to be turned into a shoe.
Text by Daisy Woodward