It was an outstanding year for ASICS, and for one key reason: their phenomenal dedication to brand history. Trips to the ASICS archive ignited a retro renaissance and a slew of unexpected encore appearances. The GEL-DS Trainer OG, GEL-Mai, GEL-Diablo and OG GEL-Lyte all made surprise returns over the past 12 months and were each treated to new colourways, faithful OG recreations and colab honours (Ronnie Fieg and Ghostface Killah, anyone?) Without further ado, here's our take on ASICS’ top retro revivals of 2017!
ASICS 2017 Highlight Reel
Date: December 15 2017
By: Matt Williams
GEL-DS Trainer OG
Making their intentions clear from the get-go, ASICS kicked off 2017 with the return of the GEL-DS Trainer OG. The model hit shelves in early January in its original colours together with a darker make-up that perfectly embraced the model's 1995 origins. The DS-Trainer OG debuted in the mid-90s as a lightweight option for high-mileage runners and has remained a flagship runner in the ASICS lineup through its various incarnations over the past two decades, but had been sorely lacking in any retro lovin' until this year.
Throughout 2017, the model found its way on to shelves in the form of sleek GRs, but its collaborations were truly something else. May treated us to a double drop of Wood Wood-designed DS Trainers – both strong contenders for ASICS colab of the year – as well as a twin pack from the crew at size? that perfectly captured 24 hours in LA.
The GEL DS-Trainer's return was unexpected, and little did we know it was just a taste of things to come!
The return of the GEL-Mai was one of the year's best sneaker moments. ASICS teased the revival with a trio of highly limited Ronnie Fieg colabs at the end of 2016, but it would take until 2017 for the model to make its full-fledged return to the scene – and we couldn’t have asked for a stronger comeback. Slam Jam would pick up the reins in February with the ‘Angle Pack,’ pushing the colour spectrum to the extreme in the process.
Two classic colourways from the archives followed in April with the OG 'Blue/Black' make-up in particular becoming one of the most worn models at Sneaker Freaker HQ this year. ASICS went on to dish out GEL-Mai colabs in both quantity and quality, uniting with the likes of mita sneakers, Highs And Lows, and Bodega.
But it wasn’t just colabs that took the Mai from strength to strength. Each GR release was stellar in its own right, breathing simplicity into the balls-out silhouette.
The brand continued to tweak the GEL-Mai through the year, delivering both Gore-Tex and knit incarnations that only further improved the beloved model in durability and comfort respectively. Patta took a particular shining to the GEL-Mai Knit, releasing their own version in October.
Fingers crossed the Mai appreciation continues in 2018!
Ronnie Fieg teased the return of this mid-90s trainer in late March when he posted an Instagram snap of a GEL-Diablo tongue with the initials ‘RF’ on the lace-loop. The colab was revealed in all its glory days later before being released as a surprise Kithstrike in early April. Five hundred pairs went on sale and were snapped up at lightning speed. An additional 500 pairs were released a week later alongside a new Fieg-designed GEL-Lyte III, formally dubbed the 'Volcano 2.0' collection as a follow-up to 2013's 'Volcano' GEL-Lyte V. Both designs in the collection were treated to premium 'Made in Japan' construction, making for a phenomenal return debut.
In August, ASICS brought back the GEL-Diablo its original white/black/blue colourway.The GEL-Diablo's bulging appearance aligns perfectly with modern chunky-trainer trends, and releases like the recent 'Red Patch Pack' prove the model looks flawless in contemporary colour-blocking.
It took until 2017, but ASICS finally honoured one of the most important silhouettes in the brand's history: the OG GEL-Lyte! The grand return commemorated the model's 30th anniversary, an occasion celebrated with retro recreations of the influential model in both the original 1987 men's and women's colourways.
The retro might be seen as superfluous by some, given the model's strong visual similarity to the GEL-Lyte III and the need for a total recreation from the ground up, but there’s no two ways about it, this was a release for the ASICS diehards delivered with a whole lot of love!
It's still early days for the newly rejuvenated silhouette, but that hasn't prevented it from colab consideration. Patta were first to take the newly restored sneaker out for a spin, and more recently it served as the canvas of choice for the ASICS' comprehensive Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs collection, created in partnership with Disney.