For 2018 Gel-Lyte Five Becomes Gel-Lyte Forgotten
By David Blackmon / @jusdave3_2
Twenty-five years is a momentous milestone for a sneaker silhouette. Each year brands release dozens of new silhouettes and reworked models; shoes that sit on shelves or in warehouses doomed to become forgotten relics. Shoes that garner no fanfare or pandemonium upon their release. Shoes that stand only as a testament to the hopes and dreams of a new or seasoned designer that wishes to invigorate or rekindle their promising career. These shoes sit and die; unloved and unremembered silhouettes that remain testaments to the difficulty of sneaker design and the lofty task of creating a hit model. The Gel-Lyte V is NOT one of these shoes.
In 1993, ASICS put forth the Gel-Lyte V model, the direct successor to the infamous Gel-Lyte III (Four is unlucky in Japan so it was skipped in favor of five). The Gel-Lyte V model was a substantial improvement on the Gel-Lyte III model, adopting a more lightweight and sleek design. Its form-fitting neoprene sock liner was a contemporary take for the current 90’s which provided both ankle and mid-foot support denied by other running shoes.
The Gel-Lyte V’s modern day claim to fame stems from its reintroduction in 2013 by ASICS invigorator Ronnie Fieg. The first collaborative release for the ASICS Gel-Lyte V, the Ronnie Fieg inspired Volcano stands as the most well-known and revered Gel-Lyte V release of all time. Several other Fieg collaborations on the shoe, including the Mint/Cove and Sage/Rose Gold packs, made the Gel-Lyte V a sneaker aficionado mainstay. Encompassing its twentieth anniversary, several other boutiques, such as Bodega, Concepts, and Ubiq left their mark on the Gel-Lyte V with a slew of follow-ups. Since 2013, the popularity of the Gel-Lyte V has rapidly increased.
Each year ASICS offers up a handful of collaborative releases, along with a slew of seasonal, or otherwise inspired Gel-Lyte V’s. Gel-Lyte V’s are generally popular, although its popularity remains secondary to ASICS cash-cow the Gel-Lyte III. However, this secondary appeal doesn’t mean the 25th anniversary of the Gel-Lyte V should be forgotten or go uncelebrated, but it appears that’s exactly what ASICS plan to do.
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Since the celebration of the Gel-Lyte III anniversary in 2015 runners have somewhat fallen off the radar for many mainstream sneaker collectors. Aside from a few bright spots, such as the RF Gel-Lyte III Volcano release and a handful of other collaborations, runners, specifically ASICS, have given ground to other brands and styles of shoes. Adidas and Nike have resurged with their collaborative releases. Stepping back on the scene to celebrate the anniversary of its second most popular silhouette seems an almost necessary move for ASICS in 2018, but it appears we may be out of luck.
In early 2015 the sneaker community had more than simple rumors for the impending anniversary celebration of the Gel-Lyte III. A robust release calendar and numerous preview photos proliferated social media and all the major sneaker news outlets for the 25th anniversary of the III. No such information is available now. The ASICS brand has been surprisingly silent on whether they plan to celebrate the 25th anniversary of one its most beloved models. The closest we seem to be to any sort of celebration of the Gel-Lyte V anniversary is the recent introduction of the Gel-Lyte V Sanze Knit, an apparent take on the Gel-Lyte V that looks more akin to the Adidas Pharell Hu NMD’s than the traditional Gel-Lyte V. Such an offering by Japan’s signature sneaker brand seems unabashedly cold and untimely, especially given the increasingly stagnant runner market.
“I feel like runners, especially ASICS, took a step back in 2017 from 2016. A series of 25th anniversary collabs for the GLV would have been the perfect way to get people excited again for their brand” lamented DJ Swavor (@djswavor) a Dallas based sneaker-enthusiast and YouTube content creator in a recent conversation about the brand. “It’s a shame because I was excited thinking they were going to show the same love to them (Gel-Lyte V’s) like they did the GLS’s for their 25th anniversary” he continued “kind of a bummer because the GLV is my favorite ASICS model”. “I hope they have something planned for this whole year, but from rumors,… I don’t know” commented avid sneaker collector Tone (@toneofmyvoice) on a recent episode of the Breakdown. “If they don’t do anything for the anniversary of the Gel-Lyte V they’re f***ing dumb. Shame on you ASICS if you’ve got nothing planned”.
Missed opportunities are sadly commonplace in the sneaker world and like many brands ASICS has faced more than its own fair share of missteps. With a ripe opportunity like the 25th anniversary of the much beloved Gel-Lyte V at its doorstep, one can only hope the brand will seize the opportunity and create some great offerings like it did in 2015. Despite the brands belief that an anniversary celebration might be untimely, unwelcome, or a financial mistake, the culture shouldn’t be denied. In 2018, releases matter.