Hailing from Helsinki, Finland, Karhu is one of the longest standing brands in the sportswear department. Originally a workshop producing javelins, skis and discusses, the brand quickly found its niche after developing the first running spikes in 1917. From there Karhu has grown to become one of the leading players in the sports/lifestyle industry.
History of Karhu
What was once a humble workshop established by Ab Sportartiklar Oy, quickly grew into what is now Karhu in the early 20th century. After three of the leading athletes at the time, the Flying Finns; started donning their running spikes for competitions all over the world Karhu was suddenly thrown into the public eye. In 1920 the brand became the official manufacturer of all Finnish Olympic Games equipment.
By the 1930s Karhu had begun to encourage the training of their employees in track and field event. This was a great success with factory workers Matti Järvinen (javelin) and Lauri Lehtinen (5000m) bring back gold from Los Angeles in 1932. The brand also played their part in the Second World War by ditching the javelins and running shoes for army uniforms and boots to help their men on the front line.
20 years on and Karhu has firmly placed its claim as the leading manufacturer of sports shoes by winning 15 gold medals through its spikes. A perhaps just as prolific moment also comes in the same year. Karhu sells its three stripes trademark to a now well-known athletic shoe company that still uses it to this day. The price? Two bottles of good whiskey and about 1,600 euros.
Products from Karhu
There is no denying that Karhu is one of the leading innovators in sporting shoes and equipment. But what is so surprising is how relatively unknown the brand has become in the 21st century. Hard core sneaker heads will, of course, be familiar with the Fusion 2.0s famously worn by Kanye West and we feel this is the perfect place to start when investing in a piece of Finnish sporting history.