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Osaga Search
Osaga Shoes 7/19/2008 3:49AM Reply | Return to Index | Report Post
Anyone old enough to remember this line of shoes? I am trying to learn more about the company, but there isn't much of a trace of Osaga on the Internet. Anyone ever use their shoes?
RE: Osaga Shoes 7/19/2008 9:30PM - in reply to Osaga Search Reply | Return to Index | Report Post
Cantilever midsole like the Avia shoes have, ugly yellow and orange color combo. I remember they wore out very fast - I only had them for a few weeks in something like the summer of '79. Soft midsole.
RE: Osaga Shoes 7/19/2008 9:51PM - in reply to yup... Reply | Return to Index | Report Post
I hadn't though about Osaga's in years until last month, while reading Hollister's book about Nike. He gives a very brief mention of the origin of Osaga.
RE: Osaga Shoes 7/19/2008 10:06PM - in reply to yup... Reply | Return to Index | Report Post
They sound like they suck.
RE: Osaga Shoes 7/19/2008 11:33PM - in reply to RonnieJames Reply | Return to Index | Report Post
I remember a pair of those yellow-and-orange smushers. Strange heel design, supposedly to expand radially outward and dissipate shock. The shoes themselves fit loosely, and the "shock-absorbing" feature made them feel like big foam pillows strapped on your feet, all slush and rebound and no feel or grip on the road. It felt like slowly bouncing down the road, without making much forward progress. After a few runs I put mine on the shelf, and eventually gave 'em away.
blue and red
RE: Osaga Shoes 7/19/2008 11:36PM - in reply to yup... Reply | Return to Index | Report Post
Great flashback - thankyou. Grade 8 when I started running. I remember the baby blue with red stripe. And the midsole became unglued very quickly. Now I'm off to google "Kangaroos". I had a red pair of racing flats. I saw a kid wearing a skater type Kangaroo the other day. I think they were Australian, once sponsoring Ray Flynn, Desmond O'Connor(Rod Stewart lookalike), and John Tuttle. Now I think they are your low quality department store brand.
RE: Osaga Shoes 7/20/2008 1:00AM - in reply to Osaga Search Reply | Return to Index | Report Post
They were actually the precusor to Avia. They were the title sponsor on the Hayward Field scoreboard for a time. The owner of a running store called The Eugene Running Company over on Willamette (late 70s early 80s) was a co-founder of the Avia. He gave me and a couple fo guys pair of Osagas to try to get some feedback as they were dveloping the Avia. The Osagas were the worst and ugliest shoes I have ever run in.
Osaga Search
RE: Osaga Shoes 7/20/2008 8:13PM - in reply to pre841 Reply | Return to Index | Report Post
Thanks everyone! This is some good information. I was just watching Personal Best, and the Osaga sign on the Hayward Field clock was visible for a split second.

So, setting aside that they were maybe not the best shoes ever and passed in a Darwinian fashion, they were an American company? Or Japanese? I'm wondering if the name is a play on Osaka.
Richard Hewitt
RE: Osaga Shoes 10/30/2008 8:04AM - in reply to Osaga Search Reply | Return to Index | Report Post
I managed three sporting goods stores in the late 70's. Had one of the "prototype" pairs of Osaga shoes. The had the best support and cushioning of any show I've ever had (then and now). The uppers just didn't hold up. Went through two pair. The name came from a Native American dialect and was supposed to mean "wind". Too bad it didn't work out, would still like that Osaga comfort and support.
lil boy
RE: Osaga Shoes 10/30/2008 8:57AM - in reply to Richard Hewitt Reply | Return to Index | Report Post
I liked Pony. Nothing better than a workout in my Pony's and my stripped Dolphin shorts.
RE: Osaga Shoes 10/30/2008 9:07AM - in reply to lil boy Reply | Return to Index | Report Post

lil boy wrote:
my stripped Dolphin shorts.
RE: Osaga Shoes 1/21/2009 5:54PM - in reply to Osaga Search Reply | Return to Index | Report Post
I somehow landed on your sight today and saw your comments about OSAGA. I was one of the first people to market OSAGA in the United States and was there from day one. Most of the comments and responses you received are a bit off target. The company was started about three months after a small company by the name of "Blue Ribbon Sports" or, as the name you may know better as "NIKE". It was started by a a family shoe store retailer by the name of Bill Combs in Eugene, Oregon. Although he has passed, his stores are still there and are called "Burchs Fine Shoes". we were around Bob Bowerman several times because he was a good friend of Bill Combs. We would all go to dinner during big meets such as NCAA Cross Country championships, etc.

Almost all of the shoes had names beginning with the letter "C" as research found that those words were the easiest to remember. Names like Capra (which is the brightly colored shoes your responders are talking about), Cortina, Columbia and Cochise, which was meant to compete with the Adidas Country and was green and white as well.

The logo colors where Green and Yellow, but not becauase of Oregon. Once again, marketing research said those were the most pleasing colors. Osaga was the first company to put emphasis on matching warm-ups, bags, hats, shirts, etc to the shoe colors.

The original idea of the company was that the shoes would be world class running and athletic shoes but not be sold in sporting goods stores and would be made available only to family shoe stores. As you might guess this took away the opportunity to have athletes as spokespersons. Alberto Salazar is the only "major" runner to have worn the shoes and that only happed for a very short time.

Your responders are right that the technology morphed into Avia. OSAGA developed a shoe called the KT-26 which was rated the #2 running shoe in the world as rated by Runner's World magazine. Although the shoes could then be found in some Athletes Foot stores, there was no base of well known runners in sponsored by OSAGA to really maximize the potential for expansion. At that time Bill Combs was running out of money and the writing was on the wall. The company was closed and the technology of the KT-26 Cantilever sole was sold to Avia for a small amount of money.

Oddly enough, the best shoe OSAGA Ever produced was called the OSAGA 2000 which,at the time, was the lightest weight tennis shoe ever produced. It used lightweight materials that are common place today but were evolutionary at that time.

OSAGA was named after the Osage Native American Indians from Oklahoma and the tag line was "For the Human Race". I am not sure who owns the name today. The last I knew It was owned by the parent company of Thom McAnn shoes. Any movie that shows a true depiction of the time while have the OSAGA FlASH logo on the scoreboard at Heward field. For several years OSAGA Sponsored the field.

Thanks for asking the question. It has given me a chance to lookback over some very special times.
RE: Osaga Shoes 1/21/2009 6:58PM - in reply to TonyK Reply | Return to Index | Report Post
If my memory still serves me well, wasn't Matt Centrowitz once a salesperson for those shoes. This would be after he came back to New York from Oregon.
Lance A
RE: Osaga Shoes 5/14/2009 2:18PM - in reply to TonyK Reply | Return to Index | Report Post
Tony K you are spot on.
I was going thru some of my old things and wanted to find out about what happened to OSAGA shoe company in Eugene Oregon. I was at the 1980 Olympic T&F Trials in Eugene Oregon where they also were filming segments for the movie: Personal Best with Mariel Heminway, Scott Glenn, Kenny Moore and others.

I found in belogings an OSAGA white cap with a red rope under the green & yellow oval logo. It is in excellent shape as I have never worn it, as I am not much of a hat wearer. Anyway, I also recieved a pair of OSAGA shoes and loved them but they fell apart quickly, as someone else had mentioned. I wish I had kept them even in their worn out condition for memorabila sake.

From the information I got at the trials about OSAGA, Tony K is exact in his description. I am glad I found your response as I was fuzzy on the details until I read your post.
Would anyone have access to a pair of these shoes? Feel free to contact me as I would like to get a pair for my collection.
RE: Osaga Shoes 5/14/2009 5:06PM - in reply to Lance A Reply | Return to Index | Report Post
don't have the shoes, but I have plenty of the originial ads in the 70s RW. Ah, yes... back in the day...
Kris Miller
RE: Osaga Shoes 11/5/2009 10:02AM - in reply to Osaga Search Reply | Return to Index | Report Post
I remember this company. I had several pairs of shoes and clothing made by them. I remember going to their big going out of business warehouse sale in Eugene, OR in the early 80's! I liked there running shoes. The had a really different tread design that was really springy for that era.
a Duck
RE: Osaga Shoes 1/2/2010 6:22PM - in reply to Osaga Search Reply | Return to Index | Report Post
Here are my memories of Osaga running shoes.

1. They gave a pair to many of the volunteers who worked the 1976 Trials.

2. The shoes looked well designed, but were executed in poor leadlike materials, and hurt my feet like hell. So I wore custom Nikes (from Dr. Dennis Vixey (sp?)) during the trials and got crap from my crew chief, but the shoes hurt my feet, legs, everything. I had run in Tigers, Lydiards, Puma's, NB, Nike, just about everything. Osaga's were the only shoe, before or since, that I could not take a step in without feeling like I was wearing the crappiest materials on my feet. I gave my pair away. The funny thing is, the first time I met Bowerman, I was wearing custom experimental Nikes, that he did not make, and he did a double take!

(Nikes at the time, to me, felt great, but often poorly made/assembled. They had some quality control troubles in the early years under the Nike name; but the local store (Athletic Department) always gave you a new pair when you brought in a pair that was peeling apart.)

3. I was given a pair of the fist cantilever Osaga shoes...loved the idea...but again THEY SUCKED.

4. Osaga gave the Oregon team travel gear bags for their spring trip in 1979. Found mine in a box a year ago, but the nylon and rubber in the bag was sadly I threw it away.

Wish now I'd kept all the Nike prototype shoes and other artifacts of the day, but back then they were old smelly running shoes and the Parent's wanted their storage space back -- I am sure many a post college runner has that story!

20 years later I see the stuff going for 500 a pair in Japan.

I still have a pair of waffle racers from 1980, unused.

I have always thought that the Osaga sponsorship of the old Hayward Field score board was a Dellinger way to get back at Bowerman for their falling out. On the other hand, Bowerman did not allow Dellinger access to contributing to Nike.

As for Salazar, I never saw him in Osaga, that I can remember. (Believe me the team consensus was that Osaga's shoes SUCKED -- and from my experience they were the worst shoes I ever set foot in, sadly, cos we could have gotten a ton of them for free, lol). But, Salazar, before Nike, used to wear New Balance a lot. He'd rotate in different brands and shoes. He was very democratic. Nike shoes were still hit or miss, and then they hit their stride, and we pretty much all wore Nike. The spikes at the time, for distance, were just better than any other brand. Adidas was really aimed at sprinters, and I always hated their spikes.

Most of us were Nike guys cos they were so close geographically -- but if someone came out with a shoe with a nice ride, as NB did, we'd try them out.

It was weird, we knew there was some sort of rift between Dellinger and Bowerman... Dellinger even told us it wasn't required that we wore Nike. He actually told me that personally one day "you know, you don't have to wear Nike just because Pre did." "I said, I know Bill, I actually like the way they feel, better than any other brand."

...So, he'd tell us we didn't have to wear Nike, and then at the start of the season he'd have us all go in and get outfitted with shoes...Nike's.

I guess Phil found away to get around Bowerman's crap and still donate or sell to Oregon at a sweet heart price.

I was lucky, when I shifted from Adidas and Tiger to Nike late in high school -- the Nike shoes just had a better feel and a better ride for me.

Shoe feel, fit and ride, is very individual, isn't it?

I can't imagine anyone liked Osaga's; they had nice designs, and a real problem with materials and manufacturing execution (I am sure this is the real reason the company failed; the shoes indeed sucked, I don't remember seeing a single runner, elite, real, or otherwise wear their shoes, they were considered painful bricks).

But, here you have a few people saying they liked the shoes!

I am amazed that anyone could have stood them.
a Duck
RE: Osaga Shoes 1/2/2010 7:19PM - in reply to yup... Reply | Return to Index | Report Post

The modern cantilever Avia sole is very different than the Osaga original -- which I think would still be good today.

The modern Avia is very similar to the one in the mid 80's which was very clunky. The "evolution" of the cantilever as Avia calls it, I think defeated the beauty of Osaga's original design -- which Osaga ruined by having it manufactured poorly with poor materials (bad unresponsive rubber for running shoes).

That cantilever soul in Bowerman and Nike's hands, could have been something with great ride.
RE: Osaga Shoes 1/2/2010 7:45PM - in reply to a Duck Reply | Return to Index | Report Post
The Osagas that we were given to test picked up gravel like nothing else. They were horrible on the trails. The pair I received were light blue with a red logo.
a Duck
RE: Osaga Shoes 1/2/2010 8:21PM - in reply to pre841 Reply | Return to Index | Report Post

pre841 wrote:

The Osagas that we were given to test picked up gravel like nothing else. They were horrible on the trails. The pair I received were light blue with a red logo.

That rings a bell, the first pair I got were yellow flats, given to those working at the 76 Trials.

The next pair I got were...I can't even remember the color, I think light least the cantilever sole was.

And it was nothing like what Avia did with the cantilever.

I just remember they had the hardest, deadest rubber in them of any shoe I ever tried.
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