When we talk about Karhu we have in front one of the oldest Nordic sportswear establishments. A company with a strong history, heritage and tradition. In 1916 “Ab Sportartiklar Oy” establishes a small workshop in Helsinki where locally sourced birch is transformed into the first products: javelins, skis and discuses. Running shoes are also developed and land on the feet of Hannes Kolehmainen, the first “Flying Finn”, and Ville Ritola.
In 1920 the company changes its name into Karhu, which is Finnish for bear. “The Flying Finns” dominate tracks around the world, garnering recognition for Karhu running shoes. Oh, and a guy named Paavo Nurmi returns back home with nine Olympic gold medals.
In the 50´s Karhu dominates the 1952 Helsinki Olympics with 15 gold medal-winning spikes, including those of Emil Zatopek. Fun fact, Karhu sells its Three Stripes trademark to adidas. In the 60´s Karhu officially registers its famous M symbol, the only trademark used in running shoes, derived from the word “Mestari,” which means “Champion” in Finnish. Various designs of the M-logo have adorned Karhu shoes over the years which are still in use today.