In a world dominated by high-end fashion and luxury streetwear, athletic wear often gets sidelined. One brand that has managed to break through these barriers and become a household name in both sports and fashion is ASICS. Originally founded in 1949 in Kobe, Japan, by Mr. Kihachiro Onitsuka, ASICS has evolved into a global leader in performance footwear and apparel. Today, alongside Onitsuka Tiger’s production of its original retro designs, ASICS continues to develop upscale athletic sneakers that are equipped for various activities. With a rich history that’s over 70 years old, we delve into the history of this unique brand, their exciting collaborations and expansion within hype culture, and their current standing as a leader in the sport and fashion worlds.
The origins of ASICS can be traced back to 1949 when the brand was established as Onitsuka Tiger. At the time, the company was focused on creating high-quality athletic shoes for the Japanese market. One of its early successes was the Marathon Tabi, a running shoe that provided support and comfort for long-distance runners.
However, it wasn’t until the 1980s that ASICS made a significant breakthrough with its creation of GEL technology. This unique cushioning system offered superior shock absorption, making it ideal for athletes looking for a competitive edge. ASICS quickly became a leader in the athletic footwear industry, and its GEL technology is still used in many of its top-performing shoes today.
In the late 2000s, ASICS began to make a name for itself in the streetwear and hype culture scene. This was largely due to the influence of Ronnie Fieg, designer and founder of the influential sneaker boutique, Kith. Fieg started collaborating with ASICS in 2007 and since then, his projects, which included limited-edition releases of popular models like the Gel-Lyte III and Gel-Lyte V, have helped in raising ASICS’ profile and cementing its place within the sneakerhead community.
Recently, Fieg and Kith celebrated their 100th ASICS collaboration with the release of the Gel-Lyte III Super Yellow. Fieg’s lasting impact on ASICS’ position within the hype-culture space has stayed strong as many of his collaborations have sold out within minutes of their release and resold for hundreds of dollars on the secondary market.
In 2020, ASICS continued its foray into fashion by signing Kiko Kostadinov as a creative consultant. The Bulgarian designer of his own eponymous label is all about pushing the boundaries of traditional silhouettes and experimenting with materials. His work with ASICS continues to uphold the same boundary-pushing values as his first collection featured a range of bold colors, unique shapes, and architectural touches.
He’s also helped revitalize some of ASICS’s older silhouettes like the Gel-Kayano 14. Some of Kostadinov’s projects with the brand have now become coveted items and uplifted the Gel-Kayano 14 retro into one of 2023’s popular sneakers with fashion trendsetters. This partnership with Kostadinov has helped ASICS extend its reach beyond just athletic wear and into the realm of fashion.
Aside from Ronnie Fieg and Kiko Kostadinov, ASICS has also collaborated with other notable brands such as JJJJound, AWAKE, and Patta. These collaborations have enabled ASICS to expand their sneaker offering and reach a wider audience while maintaining their signature GEL technology and renowned comfort.
ASICS is a brand that has continuously evolved to meet the needs of athletes and fashion fans alike. From its early beginnings in running shoes to its current position as a fashion-forward sportswear brand, ASICS has been a force to be reckoned with in the industry. It’s impressive to see how the brand has continued to innovate and collaborate with designers like Ronnie Fieg and Kiko Kostadinov while also keeping an eye on novel designs and aesthetics. With its commitment to creating high-quality products that are stylish and functional, ASICS won’t be going anywhere anytime soon.