Who should buy Onitsuka Tiger Corsair

The Corsairs are beautiful leather shoes with a unisex appeal that are ideal if you are looking for retro comfortable runners sneakers to pair with joggers, jeans, shorts, and slim pants.

Onitsuka Tiger Corsair logo tiger

Customizable fit

The kicks feature a lace-up closure system of seven eyelets and flat laces. These give the shoe a customizable fit.

Onitsuka Tiger Corsair logo

Shock absortion of Onitsuka Corsair

The Onitsuka Tiger Corsair sneakers are most notable for their thick EVA midsoles that provide plenty of shock absorption. While today’s version is geared more towards fashion use, the shoes can still give some runners a bit of competition.

Onitsuka Tiger Corsair toebox


The lightweight but sturdy uppers will feel stiff at first, but they will soften up beautifully after a few wears. 

Onitsuka Tiger Corsair heel

History of Onitsuka Tiger Corsair

The Corsairs were originally named the Cortez. They were considered influential shoes from which all modern running footwear come from. The Corsairs were released in 1969 in time for the Mexico Games, and during that period, the Blue Ribbon Sports Company held the distribution rights of Onitsuka Tiger shoes in the US.

Onitsuka Tiger Corsair collar

Blue Ribbon Sports was headed by Phil Knight and his former coach, Bill Bowerman. As a technical advisor to Blue Ribbon Sports, Bill created a new silhouette from two Onitsuka Tiger models, with the blessing of Onitsuka Tiger. The new silhouette was initially called the Aztec, but since Adidas released a model named the Azteca Gold, the company decided to change it to the Cortez, who according to Bowerman, was the “Spaniard who beat the shit out of the Aztecs.”

Onitsuka Tiger Corsair lacing

One day, while an Onitsuka official paid a visit to Blue Ribbon’s warehouse, he discovered several pairs of the Cortez in the storeroom without the customary Tiger stripes, and which had been replaced with the Swoosh. Unknown to Onitsuka Tiger, while Blue Ribbon was distributing their shoes, they were also selling their own Cortez version under the label, Nike. This discovery started the rift between the two companies.

Onitsuka Tiger Corsair pair

Facts / Specs

Style: Classic
Top: Low
Inspired from: Running
Closure: Laces
Material: Leather, Rubber Sole, EVA
Colorways: Grey / Black / Blue / White / Red / Green / Beige / Brown / Yellow / Purple
Special editions: 1 special edition

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Onitsuka Tiger Corsair unboxing and on-feet videos

Danny McLoughlin
Danny McLoughlin

Danny is a sports nut with a particular interest in football and running. He loves to watch sports as much as he loves to play. Danny was lead researcher on RunRepeat and The PFA’s report into Racial Bias in Football Commentary. His football and running research has been featured in The Guardian, BBC, New York Times and Washington Post.