Don’t Call It A Comeback: The Asics Resurgence
The runner market is in disarray. While runner silhouettes have always had somewhat of a niché following in the sneaker community, up until about a year ago there was a somewhat unifying brand; Asics. Models like the Gel-Lyte III and Gel-Lyte V were beyond reproach in the runner, nay, the sneaker community. With a multitude of coveted collaborations from designers and boutiques like Hanon, Mita, Michael Lamjc, Solebox, and of course the incomparable Ronnie Fieg/Kith, the Japanese footwear company sat comfortably atop the runner throne for several years. However, as with most dominant empires, Asics seemed to grow tired of the same popular silhouettes and collaborative partnerships that had swept them into fame. Hoping to capitalize on their niché market popularity and expand their reign, the last year or so seemed dedicated to the introduction and reintroduction of several other silhouettes.
Silhouettes like the Gel-Mai and Gel-Kayano replaced the perennial favorites of the Gel-Lyte III and V. Asics diehards like zaynt114 and Justin Cherian (@dud353637) continued to pursue the newest variants offered by Asics. Other Asics fanatics like Guigan713, seemed happy using the opportunity to track down older grails that they had missed or the market had forgotten. Still others like Ryan Swanger (@ryanswanger) moved on to other brands and runner silhouettes like Nike and their Air Max variants or New Balance. With Asics attention diverted away from its usual collaborative partners a splintering of the runner market seemed to follow. Multiple runner variants such as the Air Max 1/95/97/Deluxe, New Balance 1500/990/998/997/574, and various other models from brands like KangaRoos, Sonra, Adidas, and Diadora all siphoned off collectors from the Asics faithful ranks.
However, fall of 2018 has seen glimmers of hope as the seemingly dead runner King has shown some Pheonix-like signs of life. In September, Asics dropped out of the ether with a collaborative offering from 24 Kilates, dubbed the “Express”. This offering brought the seemingly abandoned Gel-Lyte III model back into the spotlight. Swathed in plush green suede and brown shades of leather the “Express” offered the eye-popping color and material charm that we’ve all come to expect from Gel-Lyte III collaborations.
In quickstrike fashion, Asics, Club 75, and Michael La MJC teamed up to re-release the original La MJC designed Gel-Lyte III in extremely limited supply. The return of the white nylon and purple nubuck swathed III set social media abuzz with excitement even though access to the release was all but impossible.
Without missing a beat, Asics quickly revealed their next major project, an homage collaboration of the Gel-Lyte III with Solebox and Atmos. Offering nods to the previous Solebox Gel-Lyte III (purple and grey hits) as well as to the Camouflage offerings from Atmos’ most recent Gel-Lyte III’s, Asics dual collaboration did not disappoint. Nuanced details like purple hits hidden unless in UV light made this project a “must cop” for diehard runner collectors.
Not to be outdone, Afew has come knocking on the Gel-Lyte III door with a resurrection of their own. Long thought dead, the Afew and Asics rendering of an orange pair of “Koi” has surfaced as an upcoming release. While the original “Koi” from the Gel-Lyte III anniversary celebration has been a sincere grail for many collectors, the orange variation promises to possibly upstage the original with its eye-catching marmalade’d toebox/cap and heelcap. The clamor for this release may reach a fever pitch as follow-up pictures are released in the coming weeks.
September and October 2018 wouldn’t have been pictured as big months for Asics back in March or April of this year, yet somehow even if they haven’t managed to grab their crown back completely, they’re at least visible near the throne again. With the resurfacing of the beloved Gel-Lyte III, Asics has sent a stunning reminder that just because you haven’t been paying attention, doesn’t mean it’s a comeback.
Written by: David Blackmon