The All-Time Greatest ASICS GEL-Lyte IIIs: Part 1
The iconic ASICS runner was universally acclaimed out of the starting gate thanks to its tri-density sole and plush GEL cushioning but, as far as aesthetics go, the unique split tongue was what really set the silhouette apart from the pack. Fast-forward 30-plus years, and the feature is still the defining design element for the all-timer.
Since the shoe’s retro return in the mid 2000s, the GEL-Lyte III has undoubtedly vaulted to the top of the ASICS crop, and has been the subject of many of the brand’s best-ever releases. In honour of its special place in the ASICS lineup, we’re taking a look back at our favourites from over the years.
Our most beloved designs couldn’t be contained to a single top-10 list, so check out the first part of our retrospective below, and stay tuned for part two for more picks.
SBTG x Limited Edt x ASICS GEL-Lyte III ‘Monsoon Patrol’ (2018)SBTG x Limited Edt x ASICS GEL-Lyte III ‘Monsoon Patrol’ (2018)
Sneaker customiser SBTG and Limited Edt have a longstanding relationship, so when it came time for the Singapore-based retailer to take on the GEL-Lyte III, they knew just who to call. Their resulting ‘Monsoon Patrol’ creation was the perfect nod to Singapore’s weather, putting a military-inspired spin on the classic runner that dropped alongside a matching capsule of apparel. The highlight of the design? The quilted nylon panels and matching shroud for the signature split tongue.
Colette x La MJC x ASICS GEL-Lyte III ‘Sold Out’ (2008)Colette x La MJC x ASICS GEL-Lyte III ‘Sold Out’ (2008)
Way back in 2008, La MJC and Parisian boutique Colette joined forces for the collaborative ‘Colette The MJC = Sold Out’ series. The best release from the endeavour was undoubtedly their GEL-Lyte III, which donned a 90s-inspired colour palette and was limited to just 100 pairs – just 24 of which were available outside of Colette (12 each at Patta and Solebox). Thankfully, the Japanese-crafted kicks made an unexpected comeback in 2018 in honour of their 10-year anniversary.
Afew x ASICS GEL-Lyte III ‘Koi’ (2015)Afew x ASICS GEL-Lyte III ‘Koi’ (2015)
Spoiler alert: 2015’s ‘Koi’ may very well be the best GEL-Lyte III of all time. Crafted by Afew, in honour of the silhouette’s 25th anniversary, the design was a nod to the special one-of-one that surfaced back in 2012 and took the Internet by storm. Hairy beige and red suede were coupled with white leather and contrasting black accents, alongside custom branding cues throughout. Last but not least, the outsole housed nods to fish food. Three years later, they revisited the idea, this time with Japan’s BEAMS joining the mix, for the ‘Orange Koi’.
Hanon x ASICS GEL-Lyte III ‘Wildcats’ (2011)Hanon x ASICS GEL-Lyte III ‘Wildcats’ (2011)
Aberdeen-based Hanon took inspiration from a local running club to create their ‘Wildcats’ rendition of the GEL-Lyte III back in 2011. The perfect example of what some expert colour-blocking and slick hues can do for a silhouette, the design opted for a mustard and burgundy combo to go along with white midsoles, 3M reflectivity, and Hanon’s signature flame logo.
Ronnie Fieg x ASICS GEL-Lyte III ‘Salmon Toe’ (2011)Ronnie Fieg x ASICS GEL-Lyte III ‘Salmon Toe’ (2011)
Arguably the best of Fieg’s many ASICS colabs, the ‘Salmon Toe’ debuted back in 2011 to celebrate Kith’s grand opening in New York City. Named for its pink-hued forefoot, the kicks were highlighted by a classic navy/white combo throughout, and were limited to just 72 pairs – 40 of which came with custom packaging, tees, and dog tags. In 2016, Fieg and company followed them up with a Japanese-made version of the design that added a navy midsole to the mix.
KICKS LAB. x ASICS GEL-Lyte III ‘Hikeshi Hanten’ (2016)KICKS LAB. x ASICS GEL-Lyte III ‘Hikeshi Hanten’ (2016)
KICKS LAB.’s ‘Hikeshi Hanten’ release from 2016 is one of the more underrated GEL-Lyte IIIs to ever see the light of day. This unsung hero was inspired by the sashiko-style Japanese firemen’s coats of old, and swathed a premium build of leather, suede and cotton in red, white and blue, plus custom branding cues from Sneakerwolf.
WOEI x ASICS GEL-Lyte III ‘Cervidae’ (2012)WOEI x ASICS GEL-Lyte III ‘Cervidae’ (2012)
Released in 2012 to celebrate the Rotterdam boutique’s fifth year in business, WOEI’s ‘Cervidae’ took cues from the local deer, applying a clean combination of tan, brown and white to one of the more luxurious GEL-Lyte III builds out there. These were home to details galore, including zig-zag stitching, rope laces, metal grommets, and embossed golden branding, not to mention splashes of reflectivity.
Hanon x ASICS GEL-Lyte III ‘Solstice’ (2015)Hanon x ASICS GEL-Lyte III ‘Solstice’ (2015)
2015’s ‘Solstice’ was the perfect follow-up to Hanon’s ‘Wildcats’ release from 2011. Featuring the exact same colour-blocking scheme as the ‘Wildcats’, these swapped out the mustard and burgundy for blue suede, purple nubuck, reflective underlays, and matching branding. Celtic knots and Hanon’s signature flame also covered the lining, so there was no mistaking the design’s Scottish roots.
Ronnie Fieg x ASICS GEL-Lyte III ‘Volcano 2.0’ (2018)Ronnie Fieg x ASICS GEL-Lyte III ‘Volcano 2.0’ (2018)
As a nod to his ‘Volcano’ GEL-Lyte V colourway from 2013, Ronnie Fieg dropped a ‘Volcano 2.0’ in 2018. Featuring a predominately white GEL-Diablo, the release’s star was undoubtedly the Japanese-made GEL-Lyte III, which expertly applied the GEL-Lyte V’s look to the premium split-tongued runner. Tri-coloured red, white and blue outsoles also added a new wrinkle to the aesthetic.
mita x BEAMS x ASICS GEL-Lyte III ‘Souvenir Jacket’ (2016)mita x BEAMS x ASICS GEL-Lyte III ‘Souvenir Jacket’ (2016)
Souvenir jackets were everywhere in 2016, so mita and BEAMS decided to take the beloved fashion staple and bring its look to the GEL-Lyte III with their collaborative drop. Quilted black velvet and matching suede took care of the construction, while multicoloured outsoles and custom embroidered touches popped. The formula proved so successful that they remixed the design with a navy version of the release the following year.