Asics: Brand, Running Shoes, Sports Fashion & Designer: Collaborations & Stars

Asics – Just like Adidas, Puma or Nike, Asics is one of the most famous sports fashion brands in the world. Today, Asics is the fifth largest brand in the sports footwear market with branches all over the world. Important to the brand’s mission statement is the inventor’s drive for sporting ambition, which finds its impetus in the idea of performance and competition and, at ASICS, results in the tireless search for the perfect sports shoe that will take the athlete further. It’s no wonder, then, that ASICS has always been a pacesetter whose revolutionary technical innovations have always set things in motion. What exactly does Asics still sell? Who founded Asics? And what does Asics stand for anyway? Answers to these questions and much more you can read in the following article. You can also learn more about many other fashion brands in our fashion brands list.

The history of the brand

From the early 90s, when the brand was not even called Asics, through mergers with other sportswear brands, to the podium place of the most famous sports brands in the world, Asics has written a long history. From the beginning, everything is characterized by two things: a deep love for sports and the firm belief that good sports shoes are created only in dialogue with athletes and on the basis of correspondingly serious scientific work.

Onitsuka Tigers: Asics’ pioneer

In 1949, Kihachiro Onitsuka founded the ASICS predecessor company Onitsuka Co. Ltd. in Kobe, Japan. Onitsuka first makes a name for itself in the basketball scene. In 1950, the company becomes known as Onitsuka Tiger. The following year, an athlete wearing Tiger shoes wins the Boston Marathon – the first major success for the Japanese brand. In 1964, the Japanese women’s volleyball team, the “Oriental Witches,” wins the gold medal at the Olympics – wearing Tiger shoes. Three years later, Australian Derek Clayton, sponsored by ASICS, sets a fabulous world record at the Fukuoka Marathon. He becomes the first person ever to cover the 42.195 kilometers in less than two hours and ten minutes.

Here you can see the founder of the brand in his later years:

A healthy mind in a healthy body

After further success at the Olympic Games, the companies Onitsuka Tiger and GTO Sports Nets & Sportswear merge in 1977 to form ASICS Corporation. During this time, ASICS’ main mission is to develop shoes specifically for women. To this day, many world-class female athletes wear the brand.

The GEL damping system

In the 80s, ASICS develops the GEL cushioning system. To this day, ASICS uses a wide range of GEL cushioning systems for all shoe categories. In 2007, ASICS releases the GEL-KINSEI. In the scene, this is considered the world’s most advanced shoe ever developed. Other, newer Asics models also use GEL technology, such as the GEL-Lyte or the GEL-Nimbus. Shortly thereafter, company founder Onitsuka passes away.

Here you can see a picture of the first GEL Kinsei model:

Asics & Olympics

At the 1992 Olympics in Barcelona, Asics is the first sports shoe sponsor in Olympic history. Asics and the Olympics – inseparable from now on. In 2004, the relationship culminated in a true highlight: Company founder Onitsuka was allowed to carry the Olympic torch 300 meters through Athens.

In 1994, a classic enters the running shoe market: The AsicsGel Kayano, which is still worn by joggers worldwide. In 2008, it is even voted running shoe of the year – 14 years after its release!

Strategy & Philosophy

Unlike the global players Adidas, Nike or Puma, the brand has become big in running. Over decades, the Japanese were able to create a continuous growth. About the specialization – the production of a sports shoe – came the expansion and the offer, especially in clothing (jackets, pants, shirts…), grew with it.

The meaning of ASICS’ letters “A healthy mind for a healthy body” seems to be catching on with consumers. More and more people are opting for brands like ASICS or Saucony when it comes to running shoes and are no longer reaching for the mainstream brands Adidas or Nike even though their products seem more aesthetically pleasing to many.

ASICS’ philosophy – feel beats look – seems to have caught on with consumers. The legacy of the company’s founder Onitsuka is writ large in the Group: “We develop shoes that meet athletes’ requirements for performance and comfort and minimize the risk of injury.”

The Asics Gel Kayano from the latest collection:

The brand Today & in the future

Although the label has long since arrived in the streetwear sector, Asics continues to focus strongly on running. This is demonstrated by innovations such as the Asics 33 (a running shoe whose concept is based on cooperation with the 33 joints of the foot) or the support of numerous running events such as the Barcelona Marathon, Paris Marathon, Asics Stockholm Marathon, New York Marathon or the Frankfurt Marathon. Even in 2020, more than 70 years after the company was founded, Asics promotes itself with the original company philosophy: “Running refreshes body and mind”.

Summary of important data:

  • 1949: Foundation of the pioneer Onitsuka Tiger
  • 1964: First Olympic gold medal in Tiger shoes
  • 1977: Foundation of Asics
  • 1980s: Development of GEL technology
  • 1992: Asics as the first sports shoe sponsor for the Olympics
  • 1994: The classic Asics Gel Kayano is released
  • 2004: Company founder Onitsuka carries the Olympic torch
  • 2008: The Gel Kayano becomes running shoe of the year
  • 2008-Today: After the death of the head of the company, his philosophy is maintained until today

Typical for the brand: the tiger stripes

In the early 60s, criticism hails that the Onitsuka Tiger shoes are easy to confuse with other brands. What comes, we know to this day: the characteristic tiger stripes. They are meant to reflect the dynamism and elegance of the tiger that Onitsuka admired throughout his life. In addition to the design, the stripes also improve the function of the shoes by optimizing the fit and providing more stability. Confusion of Onitsuka Tigers with other brands or fakes is impossible from now on.

The Asics Onitzuka Tiger “Corsair” with the characteristic tiger stripes:

Asics fashion: shoes & sports fashion

Away from the running scene, Asics has also made a name for itself in the field of streetwear and sneakers, especially in recent years. Cult sneakers like the Asics Gel-Lyte III or the Asics Onitsuka Tiger Mexico 66 have long been able to compete with other classics like the NIKE Air Max 97 or the Vans Oldskool. Which products still belong to the best of the brand and how they have changed over the years you will learn in the following section.

The Asics Gel-Lyte III

In 1990, Asics released a classic that we still celebrate today: the Asics Gel-Lyte III, the first model with the typical split tongue and the high-quality gel sole that athletes around the world love. Again, this is a sports shoe – the “split tongue” doesn’t move into the streetwear segment until 2000. To this day, it remains one of the most popular and successful silhouettes from Asics.

Here you can see the Asics GEL-Lyte 3 “J Crew” Edition:

The Asics Gel Kayano

One of the oldest but also most popular silhouettes of the brand. First released 4 years after the Gel-Lyte 3’s runaway success, the shoe quickly became one of the most sought-after models for athletes. The recipe for success: an unprecedented level of running feel, comfort and safety. It would take a year for Kayano to present its first creation. No compromises and the use of only high-quality materials finally led him to the Asics Gel-Kayano 1. Year after year, the shoe continued to evolve until it finally made a special leap with the Gel-Kayano 14, which was named running shoe of the year by Runner’s World magazine in 2008.

Here you can see the award-winning shoe:

Asics sportswear

Not only Asics running shoes, but also Asics sportswear is very popular among connoisseurs. Adapted for every body type and different sports, everyone can find their product at Asics. Also noteworthy is the environmental promise that the brand strictly adheres to even in its clothes. All items are made from either recycled polyester or sustainably sourced cotton.

Here you can see a picture of a sports outfit from Asics:

The revolutionary Samurai shoe

It is true that the first Asics sneakers with Gel appeared in 1986 in a small edition, which was largely responsible for the success of Asics. But the technology was developed further and further in the nineties until the final system was reached. The result came in 2006 with the Asics Gel-Kinsei, and it was unlike anything Asics had developed before. It is true that the first Asics sneakers with Gel appeared in 1986 in a small edition, which was largely responsible for the success of Asics. But the technology continued to evolve throughout the 1990s until the final system was achieved. The result came in 2006 with the Asics Gel-Kinsei and was unlike anything that had been developed by Asics before.

The Asics Gel Kinsei in one of the newest variants:

Asics Collaborations: The art of sneakers

Just as customers and athletes love Asics as a brand and their shoes, so do other fashion brands and designers. Asics is a big fan of collaborations and has released quite a few in their lifetime. From luxury brands to streetwear brands to smaller designers, the brand has been on the radar of just about every fashion lover.

Vivienne Westwood for Asics

The new Asics x Vivienne Westwood Gel-Kayano 26 sneaker collaboration is inspired by the sack shoes that first appeared in Vivienne Westwood’s third Buffalo/Nostalgia of Mud/the Worlds End collection in 1982.

The original double-layer technical mesh upper has been replaced with a full piece of tear-resistant ripstop nylon, and the lacing system has also been simplified to an elastic strap structure for easier wear. The mesh covering the upper pays homage to Vivienne Westwood’s iconic sack shoes and highlights the ASICS logo, while the mesh and straps add a sense of modern technology. The signature Orb Saturn logo is embedded into the external METACLUTCH™ heel counter, which combines with the reflective shields on the heel for the finishing touch.

The official promotional poster of the Gel Kayano 26 sneaker:

Kiko Kostadinov’s work for Asics

It’s almost cliché to describe Kiko Kostadinov’s ongoing work with ASICS as “futuristic,” but sometimes the simplest descriptions are the best. Kostadinov’s latest project, first revealed via his Instagram Stories and now unveiled in full detail, is a truly space-age design that wouldn’t be out of place aboard Jeff Bezos’ spaceship as it rockets into orbit.

While Kostadinov’s apparel collections are from the past, his footwear represents the future of footwear. The GEL-QUANTUM LEVITRACK, for example, departs from the past with a sleek upper shaped like a next-generation soccer shoe. The flowing lines and eye-catching neon accents enhance the visual impact of the neutral gray and black base.

Here you can see one of the two shoes from their latest collection:

Sean Wotherspoon and Atmos for Asics

Celebrating the 30th anniversary of the Gel-Lyte III series and the 20th anniversary of Atmos, the Asics x Atmos x Sean Wotherspoon collaboration uses the Gel-Lyte III silhouette as a canvas, with each shoe acting as a nod to a specific city. The right shoe represents Los Angeles with bright colors and vibrant florals that have become a trademark of Wotherspoon’s designs. The left shoe embodies the scenery, side streets and urban elements of downtown Tokyo, visualized by Atmos.

The sneaker comes with five different colored interchangeable Asics stripes, as well as breakaway Wotherspoon and Atmos patches that allow the chameleon-like silhouette to match any mood.

The Gel-Lyte III and its various patches:

Raf Simons love for Asics

For Fall/Winter 2009, Raf Simons’ interpretation of running shoes seems to embody warmth and conformity. Collaborating with Asics to redesign the brand’s running shoes, Simons added a neoprene sleeve to the shoes that is heavily customized to his seasonal collection. The sleeve can be attached to the shoes to form a boot-like ankle arch. The colorway features stunning Electric Blue and Pink accents on Black. The shoes are fully cushioned with Asics technology for comfort and support and also feature heavy tread soles.

Take a look at the Raf Simons x Asics sneaker:

The brand logo: from Tiger to Asics

With the change from Onitsuka Tiger to Asics, the brand logo has understandably changed as well. From the original black and white Onitsuka Tiger logo as seen here in the first picture, the world-famous blue Asics logo with the decorated “a” in front became in 1977.

Here you can see the Onitsuka Tigers logo from 1949:

And here is the watch-like Asics logo from 1977:

After some time at Asics, the idea came to combine the old brand identity of onitsuka Tiger with that of Asics, thus creating a new sub-brand with a completely new brand identity. The result was Asics Tiger with the new vector logo.

Seen here in the picture:

Frequently asked questions

These facts about the brand you should not miss!

What does Asics stand for?

  • The acronym ASICS is derived from Latin and stands for “Anima Sana In Corpore Sano” (A healthy mind in a healthy body).

Where does Asics come from?

  • The company Asics comes from Japan. More precisely from Kobe in Hyoga Prefecture.

Where are Asics made?

  • The shoes are manufactured in China and Vietnam, whereby the Chinese production facility is WRAP-certified, i.e. must guarantee humane working conditions.

What does GTX mean at Asics?

  • GTX stands for Gor-Tex membrane and ensures optimum protection. Running shoe models whose upper material is equipped with this membrane are often marked with the abbreviation “GTX” or “G-TX”. The Gore-Tex membrane consists of approx. 1.3 billion pores per square centimeter.

Brands like Asics: Adidas & Nike

Sports fashion is a very served segment of the fashion world. With giant stars like Nike and Adidas, it is hard for many to establish themselves. Nevertheless, Asics managed to be in the game and is now the 5th most popular sports brand in the world. Similar to Asics, there are other brands that athletes like to buy. In the list below you will find some sports brands that are similar to Asics.

Adidas / Adidas Videos

Adidas has also been one of the leading sports brands in the world for years and, unlike Asics, also has huge offerings for other sports, such as soccer or water sports. Read the history of Adidas in the following article or watch the video and learn more about the collections.

Nike / Nike Videos

The sportswear giant from the USA is the leading brand when it comes to any sportswear. Similar to Asics, they also started with sports shoes and then expanded their range into all sections of sports. Learn more about Nike and the history of the brand or check out exciting collections and collaborations here.

Fashion brands: list

You love fashion brands like Asics and want to know more fashion brands? In our fashion brands guide you will find all the top fashion brands, their history, their collections and much more. Maybe you will find your new favorite fashion brand.