Karhu (Finnish for bear) launched in 1916 in a small Helsinki workshop. Over its 100 year history, they have outfitted Finnish Olympians and produced military uniforms in WWII. Their focus however, has always been technical running and outdoor gear. Karhu achieved an international reputation for technical expertise and became the world’s leading manufacturer of athletic shoes thanks in large part to the Flying Finns, who won most Olympic running competitions.
In the 1950s, Karhu sells its 'three stripes' trademark to Adidas. The price? Two bottles of good whiskey and about 1,600 euros. They go on to register their signature M-symbol, derived from the word “Mestari,” which means “champion” in Finnish.