A Love Letter to New York: Angelo Baque Unveils the AWAKE NY x ASICS GEL-NYC
Angelo Baque founded Awake NY in 2012 while working as brand director at Supreme. Sold exclusively in Japan for the first few years, the label picked up speed in 2017 as the script logo started appearing on the streets of New York. In 2019, Awake NY partnered with ASICS to produce a GEL-Kayano 5 360 inspired by Flushing Meadows, located in Baque’s hometown of Queens. Since then, he’s worked his way through the ASICS catalogue, redesigning the GEL-Kayano 21 and the avant-garde GEL-Preleus, as well as bringing in partners as diverse as Tremaine Emory, BornxRaised’s Spanto and photographer Renell Medrano. Now, a fitting finale to the partnership is in the works – the Awake NY x ASICS GEL-NYC that will arrive in early 2023.
Going back to your time at Supreme, did you gain any footwear-specific knowledge that has informed your ASICS collaborations?
I spent 10 years at Supreme and I’m super grateful for the opportunity that James Jebbia gave me. The platform I was given to get ideas out and create a global creative community really set the tone and the pace for the brand.
I always like to be clear with the objectives and justifications for any creative collaboration. It’s important to be able to make a premium product at a price that is affordable for my customer. That was the Supreme ideology I learned directly from James and the prime reason he wanted to make jackets with The North Face. To me, ASICS makes the best running shoes, and that’s the kind of partner I want to be associated with.
We spoke in Paris for your first Awake NY x ASICS colab. Back then, you mentioned that ASICS has a different cultural context in Europe than in the US. Has that perception evolved at all?
Unfortunately, because of Covid, I haven’t been able to go to Europe lately. But what I do love is seeing how our collaborations have been embraced by the kids out there. Each shoe that I’ve put out with ASICS, whether it’s through Awake NY or even the Kayano 14 we did last summer – the reaction in Europe has been super positive. So yeah, I wish I’d been able to go to Paris, but we’ll be there for Fashion Week in 2023.,
You recently created the ASICS Collective project, where you signed Tremaine Emory and Jessica Gonsalves to the team. Is it a driving instinct for you to put your friends on?
Yeah, absolutely. You hit it right on the head. Everyone in the collective is an amazing storyteller. And I think that’s where we’re at right now – just taking a step back and looking at the future of streetwear. It’s not so much about the cool collaboration that ‘Company X’ and ‘Company Y’ are coming up with, but what’s the narrative behind these projects? What are the intentions, and what are the stories being told? That also weighed heavily on who I wanted to be involved in the project because everyone that is part of the collective I view as a peer. Beyond that, they’re all inspiring people.
Renell is a photographer, and I really love the idea of giving a visual artist an opportunity to design a shoe. I think she bodied it! Tremaine, at the time, was heavily attached to No Vacancy Inn, as this predates his jeans and him really blowing up as an individual. Now he’s a creative director at Supreme! This was an opportunity to create a new narrative for all of us and bring the guys into a whole new kind of space that didn’t exist four years ago.
'The GEL-NYC represents the first time we were able to create a new silhouette. It’s not something designed from scratch, but we went into the ASICS archive and mixed a little bit of new technology with a little bit of older design.'
So that brings us to the new ASICS GEL-NYC. Tell us about it.
It’s really good. [Laughs.] The GEL-NYC represents the first time we were able to create a new silhouette. It’s not something designed from scratch, but we went into the ASICS archive and mixed a little bit of new technology with a little bit of older design. The upper references the GEL-NIMBUS 3 from the early 2000s, with a little help from the GEL-MC PLUS V design. We also used the modern GEL-CUMULUS 16’s tooling system, which makes the GEL-NYC feel so comfy underfoot. And since this came from all of us,
I thought it was important to make sure that New York City was represented in the naming of the shoe.
What inspired the first GEL-Kayano 5 360 also inspired the GEL-NYC. At the end of the day, for me, it’s like, how do I envision a kid from Jackson Heights, Queens, the South Bronx – or even the outskirts of Paris – wearing ASICS? We went back to the essence of where we started with ASICS in 2019. No pun intended, but it was a full 360. It’s essentially a hard-ass shoe that you can wear on the day-to-day. It looks good with a suit and a tracksuit. It’ll look good on a date with your lady, you know what I mean? This is literally going back to the essence of where I started with ASICS.
Every ASICS collaboration you’ve put out has been different.
They’re all very different. Yeah, there’s no real thread. It’s not linear. Why? It was really just the moves and where I was at, where I was travelling at the time. For the GEL-LYTE III, I wanted to do something in the canon of all the people that I respect that have collaborated with ASICS. Ronnie Fieg has always done a great job with the GEL-LYTE III, so what’s our new spin on it? How can we make ours look different
Lastly, how do you keep both a sound mind and a sound body?
I think you have to always be conscious of your intentions. I also try to be hyper-conscious of how I wanna carry myself every day. A lot of that has to do with having an open mind and open heart. As cheesy as it sounds, it’s also about trying to lead with love. We’re living in some weird times right now. There’s a war going on, and people are worried about sneaker drops and sweatshirts. I think it’s good to just be conscious of your surroundings and try to be a good human being.
Awake NY will launch the ASICS GEL-NYC in early January 2023 at their New York flagship store, with an additional launch planned during Paris Fashion Week.
To see our interview with Angelo Baque in print, be sure to grab your copy of Issue 48 now via the Sneaker Freaker shop!