During a year of what often seemed like constant change, it was nice to see that some things stayed the same: ASICS kept the sneakersphere satisfied with a steady stream of collaborative gems and general release heat. While the official partnership with Kiko Kostadinov seems to have ended for now (kind of), he certainly made the most of 2020, headlining a strong lineup of creative colabs with various industry icons that were readily snapped up across the globe.
When they weren’t flexing their collaborative clout, ASICS were working on new innovations like the Evoride Orphe, while also reimagining models from their impressive stable. All in all, ASICS delivered a very strong year in 2020, and here are some of the highlights...
Kicking Around with Kiko
The names Kiko Kostadinov and ASICS have almost seemed interchangeable in recent years, the duo regularly teaming up to deliver piping hot releases. However, word broke around October this year that the partnership was about to end, almost bringing a tear to the eye of many fans of the Bulgarian designer. Thankfully, the end of the relationship was not exactly a clean break. It turns out the Kiko team will still be working alongside ASICS to create new silhouettes, discover different materials, and deliver fresh new colour palettes – it’s just that they won’t bear the Kiko Kostadinov co-sign. The team-up will be more of an in-house job, which means that unique flavour will still be infused in future releases.
Some of this year’s best results from the intricate mind of Kiko included the wild and wonderful GEL-Aurania, the dotty GESSIRIT 2, and the celebratory GEL-Glidelyte III. But if we had to choose just one release, it’s hard to go past the trio of GEL-Kiril 2s that landed at the end of October. Available in a choice of ‘Coral Red’, ‘Phantom Black’, or ‘Steel Grey’, these were the perfect fusion of ASICS heritage with that undeniable Kiko aesthetic.
While Kiko Kostadinov seemed to be leading the charge with ASICS colabs, he certainly wasn’t the only entity to team up with the Tiger Stripes. Throughout 2020, we were blessed with a wide variety of collaborations that helped to showcase the depth of the ASICS back catalogue. Among the notable creations was a speedy Novablast with Slam Jam, a pearler of a GEL-Lyte III with END., a gothic GEL-Quantum 360 with GmbH, a tonal Novablast with AFFIX WORKS, a bold ASICS GEL-Lyte III ‘252.1’ with Ronnie Fieg, and a vibrant duo of GEL-Lyte XXXs with Sneakerwolf. There was even a gritty group effort with waterproof warriors GORE-TEX.
Pretty much on the buzzer of 2020, releasing on Black Friday, Ronnie Fieg showcased the full depth of his dedication to the GEL-Lyte III by unveiling one of the more ambitious collaborative projects we’ve seen in a while. Dubbed ‘The Palette’ collection, it featured no less than 30 different colourways of the split-tongued icon, each built with a tonal premium pigskin suede upper, atop a subtly contrasting tonal sole unit. The official pics of the collection truly were a sight to behold.
Arguably the wildest of all the collaborative creations was the fishnet-adorned GEL-Kayano 26s that Vivienne Westwood helped to deliver. The iconic British fashion designer tapped into her punk roots to reimagine a duo of GEL-Kayano 26s by adding a netted shroud to the upper of the performance runner. Arriving in either black or white, the designs confirmed the colab with Vivienne’s classic Orb logo behind the heel counter, and offered a truly unique option for below the ankles.
Unleash the General Release
In the online sneaker environment, it often seems as though colabs get all the clicks, but that can grossly underestimate the importance of the general release. In fact, Sneaker Freaker is so passionate about this that one of our writers mused earlier this year that GRs are the Foundation of Modern Sneaker Culture. And looking at ASICS’ body of work in 2020, it’s easy to see how that argument was formed.
The GEL-Lyte III notched up its 30th birthday in 2020, so it was nice to see that fan-favourite receive a steady stream of neat colourways throughout the year. Notable examples included the OG-flavoured neon orange and lush purple, the dangerous ‘Dragon Fruit’, the luminous ‘Lime Zest’, and the unbeatable ‘Triple Black’.
After appearing in hybrid mode as the GEL-Nandi 360, and being bolstered by a unique GmbH colab, it was nice to see the resurrection of the GEL-Nandi in OG form. Unearthed from relative obscurity, the orange/blue edition successfully tapped into the trail runner trend that made headlines throughout the year.
Delving into some Denim
Denim has long been a powerful material addition to sneakers, and here at Sneaker Freaker we’re always keen to see it hit our favourite silhouettes. So, the stars really aligned in September this year when images emerged of two different GEL-Lyte IIIs dressed in the timeless textile. With the choice of either all-indigo or all-black, the denim panel edges were designed to fray with wear – just like your favourite pair of jeans – while contrasting tonal leather Tiger Stripes were double stitched for reinforcement. At the end of the day, the two options were pretty much as you’d imagine they should be – and that simplicity was part of their undeniable appeal.