ASICS' 2018 Highlight Reel
You can always count on ASICS for two things: perfectly timed revivals and an unwavering commitment to top-notch craftsmanship. They largely forgo the hype train, opting instead for well-considered releases that will stand the test of time.
That's not to say we weren't totally hyped about what the Tiger Stripes whipped up over the last 12 months. They dropped one of the best colabs of the year (at least according to this writer) and tapped the zeitgeist to reinvigorate the GEL-Kayano line. They're a brand motivated by their history, but 2018 was also the year they set their sights on the future, taking their proprietary GEL tech to infinity and beyond.
So, come back with us as we look at ASICS' year that was.
AFEW X BEAMS X ASICS GEL-LYTE III 'ORANGE KOI'
Is it too grand a statement to say that the OG Afew x ASICS GEL-Lyte III 'Koi' is the best ASICS shoe of all time? Surely not; it's amazing. It's not surprising, then, that a 2018 remix of the hallowed colab was met with resounding and unbridled anticipation. And boy did it live up to expectations!
Crisp colour-blocking, premium materials, and killer packaging saw the 'Orange Koi' hold its own against the 2015 version, while the addition of Japanese retailer BEAMS to the collaborative soup meant that accompanying apparel was equally on point. A Koi-patterned outsole and co-branded touches showcased the brands' eye for detail, and reminded us that you don't always needed a rapper's co-sign for a successful colab.
Honourable mention to Afew and ASICS for restocking the original 'Koi' back in October. We're just salty it was in-store only.
KIKO'S MIDAS TOUCH
In a year of bumper colabs for ASICS, it takes a lot to stand out from the crowd. But Kiko Kostadinov's left-of-centre co-signs definitely warrant a mention. His high-fashion take on Tiger Stripes' performance silhouettes was a welcome antidote to the maximalism of the rest of the haute scene sneakers, and the punters agreed: his Limeade GEL-Burz from drop numero uno are fetching nearly four figures on the resell market.
Kostadinov proved it was no fluke when the next link-up, another set of Burz, was met with near equal enthusiasm by sneaker aficionados, again demanding hefty resell prices.
His final showing for the year, the head-turning GEL-Delva, was the benefit of all this momentum, selling out in a flash. Now that's how you cap off a year!
LET YOUR GEL HANG OUT
While other heavy hitters fought over foams, ASICS stayed on top of the GEL game. After all, if it ain't broke don't fit it. That doesn't mean they didn't push boundaries in 2018, though. Tired of other brands' cushioning getting all the attention, ASICS finally pulled the curtains back and let us see the GEL in all its glory.
atmos were early adopters of the newly denuded GEL, dropping both black and ivory GEL-Inst.360s before 2018's first quarter was up, before following them up with a slick silver pair in November. But the two Japanese titans weren't done yet! They saw out the year with one last colab, teaming up for a neon duo of GEL-Inst.180s whose black suede uppers and eye-searing sole units had us saying, 'Air, Schmair'.
It's not all about colabs though, and ASICS kept their biggest GEL innovation for themselves, ending their banner year by revealing the GEL-Quantum Infinity. Giving us more cush than we've ever had, the Quantum Infinity sports heel-to-toe GEL — an ASICS first — and a barely-there outsole for maximum squish. Talk about cutting edge!
KAYANOS RETURN, JUST IN THE NICK OF TIME
We're in late December and everyone is so sick of hearing about 'dad shoes' that I'm not even going to draw the comparison, but I will say that ASICS' Kayano revival caught the wave at precisely the right moment.
The reboot began when models stomped down the Casestudy runway in GEL-Kayano 25s back in September. The Korean brand sure knew how to get the ball rolling, whetting appetites with an uber-limited 100-pair release. Japan's mita sneakers were next to celebrate the line's 25th year, revisiting their 'Trico' colourway for a double-drop of Kayano steeze in October.
Copenhagen's Naked took on the same silhouettes — the GEL-Kayano 25 and Trainer — leveraging their 90s heritage with a blue and yellow colour combo. It was a similar palette to the one used to most effect on arguably the best GEL-Kayano of the year: the triumphant return of the GEL-Kayano 5 to celebrate its 20th anniversary.