ARTICLE BY Ross Dwyer, Seb

Is 2022 the Year of ASICS?

Is 2022 the Year of ASICS

When we were putting together our end-of-year staff picks for 2021, we noticed something interesting: ⅓ of the shoes chosen were ASICS! With the rise in popularity of technical silhouettes from the 2000s, the continued success of ASICS’ partnership with Kiko Kostadinov, the planned expansion of the ‘ASICS Collective’ collaborative initiative and how much we talk amongst ourselves about the brand’s new projects and initiatives, we thought we’d dig a little deeper and see exactly why we thought ASICS is poised for such a huge 2022.

Our NYC-based Senior Global Content Editor Ross Dwyer and our Melbourne-stationed content producer Sebastian Bugeja-Drinkell sat down (virtually) to discuss ASICS’ merits, the success of their collaborative strategy and exactly why we think they’re in line for a monumental year.

Sebastian
0 votes

What’s your history with ASICS as a brand?

Ross
0 votes

My experience with ASICS is that of a salesperson more than a collector. When I was in high school and in my early 20s, I worked at various sneaker stores and sold a lot of ASICS to runners. The GEL-Kinsei was the salesperson grail back then as they were $165, absurdly expensive for the mid-2000s. I strictly viewed ASICS as a luxury performance brand up until recently, and have always thought they made high-quality, cutting edge sneakers.

ASICS GEL-Kinsei
Sebastian
0 votes

I’ve been a big ASICS fan since I started getting interested in sneakers, especially the GEL-Kayano line. I worked in hospitality for a number of years, and would always wear ASICS at those jobs for their comfort and durability. Funny story: when I was a little kid, my parents would take me to the outlet centre to get me shoes for school. I’d always want Air Maxes but they’d say ‘no, we’re going to get you ASICS’. And I'd hate it [laughs]. Now they’re my favourite sneaker brand. Thanks, Mum and Dad.

How We Got Here

Ross
0 votes

The normcore movement has been going on for quite a while, and usually veers really hard towards subtle, low-key heritage running shoes. To me, the natural evolution of the trend is rocking technical runners from the 2000s, silhouettes that were released purely for performance, and repurposing them for lifestyle wear.

Sebastian
0 votes

Agreed. Another piece of the puzzle is higher-end brands like Balenciaga and Louis Vuitton — they’ve been making these technical, silver mesh, running-inspired silhouettes for a few years now. The Balenciaga Track is one that sticks out, as are Vetements’ colabs with Reebok. Those are essentially ultra-expensive versions of the shoes you’re talking about!

Vetements Reebok
Ross
0 votes

It’s interesting because that normcore trend of wearing pure performance running shoes as a lifestyle item kind of trickled up to these high fashion brands. Now, it’s trickling back down and the shoes that inspired the trend in the first place are poised for a moment in the spotlight.

,
Sebastian
0 votes

We’re right on the cusp. Here in Melbourne, ASICS are still largely untouched by hype. There’s a big electronic music scene here, and a lot of the people in it wear ASICS. It’s the ‘underground cool’ look.

Ross
0 votes

Word. It sounds like ASICS are the shoe of the scene – much in the same way hardcore guys in the 1990s would always rock Jordans and Air Max. They looked great, but they were more than functional enough for a windmill kick! Bouncing off of what you said about the ‘cool guy’ look, I see the same here in New York. The individuals who rock ‘em aren’t necessarily the core ‘sneakerhead’ crowd, more so people who are into design and art. They seem to either prefer a normcore look or a Tokyo-influenced style, and couldn’t be bothered with hyped gear. Interestingly enough, that seems to have kept the resell market down too. You can still get a lot of limited edition or colab ASICS for at or under retail!

Sebastian
0 votes

If an ASICS collaboration drops, 9 times out of 10 you can walk into a store and buy it off the shelves – no camping or raffling needed! That accessibility is a good thing because it’s democratic and gives people a chance to gravitate towards a new product.

Colabs Lead the Charge

Sebastian
0 votes

A big part of why ASICS is poised for a new chapter can be attributed to Kiko Kostadinov. When he colabed with ASICS, he made his own silhouettes instead of reworking existing models. He brought a whole new DNA to ASICS products without removing the performance features that made them desirable in the first place. That brought the brand to a more fashion-forward audience.

Ross
0 votes

The colabs were so seamless that Kiko's aesthetic and ASICS' aesthetic became intertwined. Remember when it was announced that he wouldn’t be doing any more colabs, but would work on curating in-line styles? That was a really clever way to fuse that fashion-forward ethos into non-colab products.

Sebastian
0 votes

Agreed. It was very smart marketing too, building anticipation for the return of the GEL-Kayano 14 with Kiko-influenced pairs, then re-releasing some of the original colourways.

Ross
0 votes

More recently, I’ve been really interested in what ASICS is doing with Angelo Baque and the ‘ASICS Collective’. It's a new way of collaborating, having someone like Angelo both do colabs of his own and curate the brand’s collaborative direction by bringing his network into the fold. It feels like a bit more of an equitable partnership and is a new way to pique interest as well because colabs aren’t as impactful as they used to be.,

Sebastian
0 votes

Totally. It helps establish a theme to the collaborations, so they don’t seem like they’re all over the place… or even worse, cash grabs. ASICS has done a great job of establishing that collaborative language.

Trend Capitalisation

Ross
0 votes

Y2K style is enjoying a moment in the spotlight. The kind of tech-y silver running shoes that ASICS has always been so well known for were all over the place back in the 2000s, even if they weren’t being worn for lifestyle purposes. I was in my early teens then, and I always associated ASICS with wealth. Almost everyone I knew who wore them had rich parents… or were rich parents [laughs]. Now, folks my age have money and can get that rich dad look for themselves.

I also see some similarities between the mythologies of ASICS and Carhartt. People want the rugged, durable workwear look that Carhartt provides, no matter if they work with their hands or not. It conveys hardiness. ASICS has always been high performance first and foremost, and people like that air of peak performance, no matter if they spend more time waiting in line for a latte at Cafe Leon Dore than jogging. For better or worse, it’s all about the aesthetic in 2022, and you can’t have the aesthetic without the functionality – even if the functionality won’t be put to use.

Sebastian
0 votes

I’m a bit younger than you, and I was a baby in the early 2000s [laughs]. I didn’t see those silhouettes back then, but when I got older, dug in online and saw them for the first time I was like ‘holy sh*t, these are so rad’. Although I might have not been involved in it as it was happening, I see Y2K style through a rose-tinted lens, and so do a lot of other people of my generation. You see people trying to replicate and embody that early Internet, flip phone aesthetic on Depop and Instagram. It’s hot right now, and big, bright running shoes like ASICS are a key part of it. Kids my age won’t necessarily think of Nike or Jordan when we look back to decades past for inspiration.

Ross
0 votes

Y2K is back in vogue and silver running shoes are gonna be all over the place this year – from NYC to Melbourne!

Sebastian
0 votes

You bet. We, as editors, are really looking forward to what ASICS is going to do next – ⅓ of our end-of-year staff picks last year were ASICS – and with how many shoes we sift through on a daily basis, that’s not a common thing!

Is 2022 the year of ASICS?

It's time to have your say!

Now ReadingIs 2022 the Year of ASICS?
    • ,