How Kiko Kostadinov Brought ASICS to the Runway
ASICS have infiltrated the high-fashion zeitgeist in recent times, as their running silhouettes have reinvented themselves as essential daily-drivers for many. Like many things in fashion, it started ironically, but now it has become a little more sincere. And it all has a lot to do with the influence of Bulgarian-born, London-based designer Kiko Kostadinov.
Graduating from Central Saint Martins University of the Arts in 2016, Kostadinov had already made a name for himself, and was known to fashion’s upper echelon. He started honing his aesthetic traits early on, and seemed to always gravitate toward running/trail silhouettes. His graduate show at CSM had models prance down the runway wearing shoes by HOKA ONE ONE.
By his fourth season, for Spring 2018 Menswear, Kostadinov had the chance to debut his work with ASICS. This was when the GEL-Burz hit the catwalk, simultaneously seeing ASICS welcomed into the high-fashion universe with open arms. That moment set a course for ASICS to bring their running silhouettes to the forefront of fashion, especially within menswear.
The release of the GEL-Burz was an instant success, selling out as quickly as any other hype colab in the industry. The following season, Fall 2018 Menswear saw Kostadinov reveal a collection dubbed ‘Obscured by Clouds’ – full of technical fabric, knit crossbody bags and, of course, running silhouettes. The GEL-Delva was introduced, which later became a favourite for many of Kostadinov’s growing cult following. These early silhouettes were wonderfully wearable, and laid the foundations for a burgeoning reputation.
Serious experimentation followed the GEL-Delva and GEL-Burz, as Kostadinov’s originality delivered the change in the wind that the sneakersphere needed. Inspired by shoes used for the timeless game of tug-of-war, the GEL-Sokat was the first Kostadinov colab that was on the harder-to-wear side of things, providing a design that was truly for his niche following – instead of shooting for a wider target audience. This was the shoe that opened it all up for ASICS, proving that giving full creative control to a designer can work wonders. Around this time, the high-fashion crowd had also started to adopt running silhouettes as an everyday option, an emerging trend that slotted in perfectly with the Kostadinov uniform.
The partnership between ASICS and Kiko Kostadinov was incredibly beneficial to both parties, allowing ASICS to dip their toes into a whole new world, while also allowing Kostadinov to reach a broader audience. Creatively, it also allowed the young designer to push his aesthetic further with the creation of shoes. Elevating the link-up, he also brought on his sub-label AFFIX to rework the GEL-Kinsei and other performance-turned-lifestyle creps. This started, or at the very least helped push, the boom of sneakers previously solely intended for performance to move into the lifestyle market.
Sadly, the collaboration between Kostadinov and ASICS has come to an end – well, kind of. After debuting their last collaborative efforts – the GEL-Kiril 2 and his own reinterpretation of the GEL-Lyte III – the duo announced some exciting news. Instead of releasing collaborative work, Kostadinov and his team are set to continue working alongside ASICS with the creation of new styles and colour palettes at a range of price points that won’t necessarily break the bank. As an early example, they recently came out with the UB1-S GEL-Kayano 14, which exudes an undeniable Kostadinov energy. That release has many excited to see what else is in the pipeline as this mutually beneficial team-up enters an entirely new phase.