ASICS’ business model is characterised by creating astute collaborations with key 90s silhouettes, and producing them with inimitable Japanese quality – and their 2016 was no different. This year the Tiger Stripes aligned themselves with bastions of craftsmanship throughout the world to produce some seriously desirable silhouettes, all the while still applying those tenets of quality to make some of the best GRs in the game. A 90s gem was resurrected, another redesigned, and – in a special moment for the brand – GEL technology reached its 30th year in operations. Here are ASICS’ 2016 highlights.
GEL-Lyte III ‘Strawberries & Cream’
ASICS started 2016 with their heart on their sleeve. For the past couple of years, they’ve made sure to celebrate Valentine’s day with a sneaker tribute to the holiday of love, and this year they did so with an ode to one of the most sultry meals. If you show up to a date and the strawberries and cream are on hand you know you’re in for a good time – but we’d say that if you showed up and got these ‘Strawberries & Cream’ GEL-Lyte IIIs on foot you’d be just as lucky.
Reintroducing the GT-Cool Express
The GT-Cool Xpress was brought back on March 4 with a touch of old and new. ASICS released the Xpress the same way it first came into the world, with a ‘White/Purple/Lime’ colourway that oozed 90s, and then handed over the reins to Ronnie Fieg for an update. His ‘Sterling’ design was just as exceptional as its namesake, and propelled the model back into the spotlight.
GEL-Lyte III 'Indian Ink'
There were a few similarly named GEL-Lyte IIIs coming out around this time, including a Kithstrike, but this version was incomparable. We were lucky enough to have a pair floating around the office and it was so luxe we were convinced it was part of ASICS’ Made In Japan series. The polka dotted denim was applied with care and the creamy leather was soft as silk.
Solebox x ASICS GEL-Lyte III 'Blue Carpenter Bee'
Though a sample of these from 2012 generated plenty of buzz, Soleboxsmoked them into a four-year hibernation until they awoke in April this year. Being one of the last Solebox shoes designed by Hikmet Sugoer, there was fervent demand for these. Allotted stock sold out fast and resell prices stung, but those who did get their hands on this GEL-Lyte III were undoubtedly stoked to get a rarity.
Slam Jam ‘6THPRLLL’
Six years after they sent the sneaker world on a journey to an ethereal universe with their ‘5th Dimension’ GEL-Lyte III, the Italian maestros of style at Slam Jam plunged deep into a state of transcendence once again. The ‘multidisciplinary project’, the ‘6THPRLLL’ GEL-Lyte III came with a 7’’ vinyl and a zine with imagery that warped time and space like a Dali painting. Slam Jam went all in with these and pairs were all gone as a result.
atmos GEL-Lyte III 'Duck Camo'
Not hard to see why this one was a highlight. ASICS kept things in the land of the rising sun by working with premier sneaker store atmos, who naturally covered the shoe in canvas. There wasn’t a huge build up for this ‘Duck Camo’ GEL-Lyte III, not even a warning of its release, just a well-executed sneaker offered humbly to the market.
Selvedge Denim Collection
ASICS shoes are one of Japan’s renowned, quality exports – as is denim. Makes sense then for the Tiger Stripes to have united the two for August’s Selvedge Denim collection. Material for the GEL-Sight, GEL-Lyte III and GEL-Lyte V was sourced from Okayama (Japan’s denim capital) and contributed to one of 2016’s most finely crafted GRs.
As far as collaborative partnerships go, it’s hard to look past ASICS andRonnie Fieg. The two have managed to impact the market in a rare manner that has been beneficial to both partners. In 2016, two main released added to the Ronnie Fieg x ASICS saga – the Super Greens and Legends Day.
Years after the ‘Super Green’ released, rumours that Ronnie Fieg still had a few hundred pairs in storage had reached urban legend status. But after some promising Instagram images and a few impatient weeks, Ronnie Fieg and ASICS made some long-term fans very happy. The return of the ‘Super Green’ was a watershed moment in Fieg and ASICS’ relationship, as it also marked the first time the two breathed life into a new model. The GEL-Lyte 3.1 was an amalgam of the GEL-Nimbus’ sole and the GEL-Lyte III’s upper that became more than the sum of its parts. The Super Green pack also promised to be the start of what Fieg called his ‘unicorns’.
To celebrate their ten-year partnership, ASICS and Ronnie Fieg decided to release their 50th sneaker. A huge feat, sure, but the two only announced this half century-marking colab when they were 46 sneakers deep, meaning that they were promising to bestow a quartet of heaters on fans. And that they were going to do so within the next two months. Given that ASICS and Ronnie usually averaged 4-5 sneakers per year, and had already released 3, this had GEL fans beside themselves with elation.
The good news kept on coming, too. Legends Day revived the orthopedically inclined GEL-Mai from a 20-year slumber, and new ‘Salmon’ and ‘Militia’ GEL-Lyte 3.1s shadowed their footsteps. In an ‘all stock must go’ moment, Fieg then unveiled a ‘Friends and Family’ GEL-mai and announced that he would be giving away all 100 of them to the first 25 lucky purchasers of each design, too. Though not technically a part of Legends Day, and more in the spirit of it, Ronnie then continued the nearly philanthropic benevolence by dropping a ‘Salmon Toe’ and ‘Militia’ GEL-Lyte III. Nothing short of ridiculous, this is one release collectors will be telling their grandkids with glee.
30 Years of GEL
Granted, ASICS had a phenomenal year. But for those who put the ideas into action, the sweetest reward had to be the affirmation that their product had made an impact on its wearers. This year marked the 30th year that GEL technology has walked the earth – a milestone that ASICS celebrated with a three-strong 30 Years of GEL pack. The trio counted a GEL-Lyte III, GEL-Lyte V and GEL-Sight in its number, all clad in a digital blue and black. Retro Futurism was the theme and it was highlighted by vaporwave-channelling graphics that offered an education on how GEL tech came to be packed into pockets under your heels.