Karhu, a legend unknown to the world!
10/02/2018 | Gianluca Di Franco
It was 1916, and in Finland on the outskirts of Helsinki was born a small shop of sports items ... Ab Sportartiklar O, was the sign that was read at the time.
Soon the shop became a manufacturer of clothing and tools, javelins, records, skis, and running shoes, the "O" was the brand that was imprinted on the products, and the symbol used was a bear ... symbol that would change the history of sport in Finland and beyond.
Over the years the small shop became a sponsor of the 1920 Antwerp Olympics, taking the name "Karhu", which means bear in Finnish. It was on that occasion that Karhu won all the athletes bringing Finland to win nine gold medals in a single Olympics, and one athlete in particular Paavo Nurmi, famous middle distance runner of the time and his nine gold medals in eight years, will say that the secret of his victories was just behind a pair of Flying Finns, the Karhu shoes that will become the sports shoes of many athletes in northern Europe.
In those years the small shop grew out of proportion, strong of the great demands the founders made agreements with technicians and engineers of the University of Helsinki to experiment with new techniques for the realization of increasingly performing shoes, until the consecration of the Karhu Brand that took place in Helsinki during the Olympic Games, the company launched its new model that caused a stir for innovation and beauty ... It was Karhu himself who first used the three stripes on the side of the shoes, along with the inscription Karhu gold and the five Olympic circles.
During the Karhu Games, he won 15 medals with his athletes, among all stood out a certain Emil Zatopek, future world champion called the "human locomotive", able to make triplet with 5000m, 10,000 m and marathon.
The research continues, and Karhu becomes a supporting member of the University of Helsinki in his own right, patenting some systems of support and fit that then omits for uselessness dynamic ... patents that were later "stolen" by other manufacturers who became famous for these inventions, one of these was the air cushion inserted in the heel. Yes, it was Karhu in 1970 who invented and patented the "AIR Cushion" system, and not the American company in Beaverton, an invention that was put aside by Karhu precisely because of the uselessness of the air cushion in the dynamics of the race, privileging stability to a soft support that in the long run will be harmful to posture and tendons, developing the concept of "Barefoot running" barefoot running.
Another anecdote marked the history of Karhu, the air of continuous innovation was always in turmoil within the Finnish brand, in fact it was decided to change the image and the logo to be inserted on the shoes, and in this decision was introduced the German brand, which proposed to Karhu to give him the three stripes, seeing in it a logo of rapid recognition, simplicity and impact. The negotiation was not long, says the Finnish brand, the agreement was reached for an amount equal to 1600.00 € today and three bottles of good whiskey.
So it was that Karhu definitively changed his logo on his shoes, inserting a stylized "M" that indicates the word "Mestari" which in Finnish means champion!
The research continues and does not stop, other patents determine the consecration of Karhu as an innovative brand, the Fulchrum system that allows better absorption of energy in support, favoring the next push and improving the efficiency of running, the system MRE (Maximum Rolling Effect) and Flight Deck cushioning system positioned in the center of the sole, in order to minimize the impact in the take-off. A product dedicated to runners looking for a shoe to use in everyday training as well as in competition.
Important is the partnership that Karhu has in 2017 with the most important company in the world of biomechanics, which brings the brand with the Bear to build a particular model made by scanning 100,000 times the foot, ensuring an inimitable Fit.
To satisfy all Karhu's needs as well as all the other brands, it introduces a range of sneakers inspired by running for everyday and elegant use, made taking into account above all the tradition, the colours and the Nordic landscape, a fascinating mix to be discovered.
All models, even those in the fashion line, are characterised by Fulcrum technology.
A brand "made in Europe" that faces the competitive world of the world's running brands, a difficult challenge, but not impossible.
A fascinating challenge that sees Franco Arese (former President of FIDAL and ASICS Italy) at the helm, who in 1971 in the Finnish capital in Helsinki won the European title in the 1500 meters in 3'38 "43.
In Italy, after the Turin Marathon, KARHU is sponsor of the Italian Marathon and the Treviso Marathon, and recently sponsor of the Venice Marathon.o.!