According to someone that worked at Osaga, the company (which got its name from the Osage Native American Indians from Oklahoma and used the tag line “For the Human Race”) started about three months after ‘Blue Ribbon Sports’ or, as we know today as “NIKE”. It was started by 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’). 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 was the only ‘major’ runner to have worn the shoes and that only happed for a very short time. Nearly 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, Cortina, Columbia and the Cochise (which was meant to compete with the Adidas Country and was green and white) and the logo colors were Green and Yellow (not becauase of Oregon but because 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 KT-26 (pictured above) was rated the #2 running shoe in the world (as rated by Runner’s World magazine) and although the shoes could then be found in some Athletes Foot stores, there was no base of well known runners 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.
Today its thought that the Osaga name is owned by the the parent company of Thom McAnn shoes. How do you feel about the brand? Make sure and leave a drop a comment!