Born in 1916, Helsinki based Karhu is Finland’s legendary trainer brand with an authentic heritage in running and a deep connection to the outdoors (just ask Adi Dassler if you don’t believe us). Karhu follows the Finnish principles of design simplicity and running purity in providing technical running and outdoor gear for 95 years.
To celebrate Karhu Originals’ first season at Foot Patrol, 80 Berwick St, London, W1, are inviting you on a journey back in time. An exhibition showcasing vintage Karhu products from different eras will take place at the store, with a special preview tonight from 6-9pm and then in store from the 17th of November.
Expect to see: Karhu outdoor shoe from 1940’s; Three Stripe spike from 1947; Karhu Spike from 50s from Kangaroo Leather ; Weighlifting shoe from 1960s; Orange hi top from 1976; Champion from 1976 ; Kevlar from 1980; Karhu London from 1980; Albatross from 1982; Karhu BSR-10 Court shoe from 1983; Helsinki from 1983; Snowjogger form 1985; Blue Lady from 1986; Aria from 1991
Many people might not be aware that Karhu is the first and original inventor of Air Cushioned shoe. Back in the early 1970′s Karhu’s footwear team, lead by Mr. Seppo Saaristo, saw the need for better cushioning in athletic footwear. Something was needed to carry the weight of the runner and absorb the huge pressure directed to lower limbs. Saaristo had played around with an idea of creating a spring shoe, but obviously that was not doable. After several prototypes and thorough testing together with University of Jyväskylä, the first Air Cushion model saw the light of day. It was named Karhu Champion and indeed ruled the running shoe market in the 70′s.
Karhu has always been on top of research and development, but perhaps its most innovative breakthrough saw the light of the day in 1986. Fulcrum Technology was developed to create as efficient and secure ride for runners as possible. The basis of the invention was to create a shoe that makes your energy flow horizontally, not vertically. Simply put, to make you move forward. The “Gyro Gearloose” of Karhu, Mr. Antti-Jussi Tiitola was the main man behind the midsole solution called Fulcrum. The triangular, hard compressed part allowed the foot to roll effectively through the stand phase. Fulcrum component was engineered to allow your feet to move through natural path as fast and as safe as possible. This invention proved to be the smartest way to pack a pair of running shoes. Fulcrum Technology is still the heart of our performance running shoe line in 2011.
Karhu was the three striped brand back in the 1940′s. The first pieces of footwear were packed with this trademark in 1947 and actually several Olympic medals were achieved at 1952 games using Karhu’s three stripe shoes. Somewhere around the mid 1950′s Karhu sold its trademark to one nowadays well known man whose sports brand also uses the same trademark. The price they got was two bottles of good whiskey and about €1600.
Karhu running shoes have been worn on the feet of some of the greatest Finnish runners, including Boston Marathon champion Olavi Suomalainen, and Paavo Nurmi, giving rise to the Flying Finns.