Karhu and the '90s - An interview with Remko Nouws

Karhu and the ’90s – An interview with Remko Nouws


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We get an insight into KARHU AND THE ’90S from industry veteran REMKO NOUWS in the Finnish Running Secrets magazine.

REMKO NOUWS has been involved in the industry for over a decade now and has built up an impressive CV that includes European Distributor of Sneaker Freaker Magazine from 2004 to 2012 and top tier network and store collaborations at ASICS Europe. He now works as the Global Category Manager at KARHU, which makes him very well placed to give us an insight into the brand.

Remko: ‘For me personally, the mid-90s wasn’t the best time for sneaker design. A lot of sneakers had unnecessary features and overlays, which made them too futuristic for me. Of course looking back now, we know that some of the sneakers reached legendary status, especially the Air Max 95. Even though I appreciate the design now, back then I thought it was, well lets say…not the prettiest. I still know where I saw it for the first time. It’s an event I remember well. Just like a lot of other experiences, these memories are the foundation for my love of the sneaker culture.’

‘Talking about memories, my father was my hero and because of that, I still remember the brands he was wearing. One brand my father wore was KARHU. KARHU was not only popular amongst runners, but also amongst the older kids when I was growing up in Amsterdam in the ’80s. You can say that the ’80s were the heydays for the brand. KARHU was innovative, always developing new technologies, which made running more comfortable, stable and efficient. Synchron (1980), Fulcrum (1986) and Ortix (1988) were some of the technologies KARHU invented, next to having the first patent for an Air Cushion system (1976).’

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‘Most brand technologies were already invented in the early ’80s. In the late ’80s and early ’90s, the Split Tongue, Pump, Disc and the Mono-sock were leading developments. It was the era of the “perfect fit” for athletic footwear. KARHU was one of the brands that adopted the Mono-sock. Combined with the still-relevant Fulcrum technology, the KARHU Aria was born. The model was introduced for the first time in 1994, but KARHU had the unorthodox habit of giving every colourway a different name. The iconic Aria colour way was introduced in 1995, exactly 20 years ago.’

‘Another very important running shoe for KARHU in the mid ’90s was the Fusion. Jukka Lehtinen, KARHU’s marketing manager for Legend couldn’t have explained it better. “To me, the Fusion represents a highly technical running shoe. The Air Deck insole, carbon-fibre plate and dual density midsole construction made it a pretty awesome shoe for a big guy.” The Aria and the Fusion will both see the light of day again in 2015. What is so great about launching them again, is the fact that KARHU’s original designer Soni O’David has redesigned his own shoes: something that is quite unique. The Aria is kept as close to the original as possible. We tweaked a couple of little things to upgrade the design and we even managed to get the Fulcrum technology back in. With regards to the Fusion, we took it to 2015! We changed the sole unit and the measurements of the upper parts to make it more appealing. Most of the original details like the tongue label and rubberised print on the ankle part and tongue are kept. The shoe has a trail running look and feel, which makes it a perfect winter shoe. Keep an eye on KARHU! Good stuff is coming up for our 100 year anniversary in 2016, which we will celebrate with another ’90s KARHU legend, the Synchron Classic!’

It sounds like we can look forward to big things in 2016, but in the meantime you can find the current KARHU range via the banner below.

Shop the Karhu footwear collection

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Shop the Karhu footwear collection

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