When Anthony approached me to take a few snaps of his latest pickup, I realised at the time it had been a while since we had done a hands-on review. At first, I was pretty timid about writing a hands-on piece, because typically these reviews were written by Louie and Nic. By no means am I a sneaker expert, nor do I have an extensive collection or a wealth of knowledge as these boys do.
What I have are a few pairs of trainers, mainly comprised of ASICS and New Balance. More importantly, I love learning about sneakers and streetwear. So I took this opportunity to do a bit of research and also put together my thoughts on the first ASICS Gel-Lyte 3.1 from the sneaker aficionado, Ronnie Fieg.
Before I dive into the nitty-gritty details of the hybrid shoe however, let’s look at a brief history of ASICS and Fieg himself.
P.S. I wouldn’t be surprised if there are some errors or omissions here. If you spot anything, please let us know and we’ll make the corrections!
Anima Sana In Corpore Sano (ASICS)
Founded in 1949 by Kihachiro Onitsuka, the brand started off under the name Onitsuka Tiger. It later became known as a sports shoe company named ASICS in 1977. It was during this period, that it ventured into creating a suite of athletic footwear and performance equipment for most areas of sports. To this day ASICS remains a performance-based brand. As with many other legacy sneaker brands, ASICS Tiger and Onitsuka Tiger were created to allow the brand to branch out into lifestyle ranges.
The ASICS moniker is derived from the Latin phrase “anima sana in corpore sano”, which nowadays is found on the side of their shoe boxes. The phrase translates as “a sound mind in a sound body”; a principle the company still follows to this day.
The Exemplary Silhouette
When I think of ASICS, I immediately think of the Gel-Lyte III model. A design imagined by Shigeyuki Mitsui which became a reality in 1990 and by 1992 was discontinued. An iconic shoe with a split tongue, though admittedly this was a feature first seen on the ASICS LD-Racers which were designed by Mitsui san’s senior at the time. It was superseded by the Gel-Lyte Ultras, (otherwise known as the meant-to-be “Gel-Lyte IV”) which didn’t follow the numbered naming convention because the number four is an unlucky number in Japan.
Stock Boy to Acclaimed ASICS Designer
Born and raised in Queens of New York, Ronnie Fieg got into the game at the young age of thirteen. This first job was at David Z footwear store in Manhattan, working as a stock boy. From there he worked his way up to the top, gaining an extensive knowledge and collection of sneakers, eventually creating his own.
In 2007, Fieg was given the opportunity to unarchive any previous ASICS model and produce a collab release. The choice of shoe was a model Fieg at first disliked but grew to love dearly – the Gel Lyte III. It is a shoe that is reminiscent of his childhood. He wanted a second pair during those youthful years but was devastated to find the Gel-Lyte III was discontinued when he looked for another.
This mentioned collab would forever be known as the ‘252 Pack’ (named after the release quantity) and remains as one of the best-selling set of ASICS in history. The release even made its way into the Wall Street Journal. The ‘252 Pack’ practically catapulted Ronnie Fieg’s career and set in motion many great things to come. From then on since, Fieg has regularly been a familiar face when it comes to Gel-Lyte III collabs.
Four years later, Fieg opened his own streetwear store — the now famous boutique, KITH NYC. Fast forward to 2016. The 5th anniversary of the highly recognised institution has come, and 10 years since the ‘252 Pack’. The Gel-Lyte III, naturally, is involved in the celebrations.
Super Limited ‘Super Green’
The cult of ASICS devotees would — no doubt, be familiar with Fieg’s fabled ‘Super Green’ Gel-Lyte IIIs and how highly sought-after these shoes were back in 2013. But for the uninformed, the ‘Super Greens’ were released as a charity effort for poverty-stricken Haitian kids and gifted only to a select few KITH employees. With about three hundred-odd pairs at the time, these easily became grails for most ASICS collectors because it never made it to the shelves.
It’s been three years since then, and now some of the ASICS aficionados have been granted a chance to collect a pair for themselves. This is where the namesake ASICS Gel-Lyte 3.1 comes in. Intended to be released alongside another two treasured unicorns of Fieg’s, the 3.1 adds ASICS’ latest performance tooling with the iconic Gel-Lyte III upper. Taking advantage of the opportunity to change the game for the ASICS Tiger branding.
Pushing the Envelope:
Hate It or Love It
From a performance standpoint, the split tongue wasn’t the main feature to boast about. It was the tri-density, compression-moulded EVA midsole that really cemented the silhouette as one of the greatest Gel-Lyte models to have been released. And now with the introduction of the FluidRide tooling, the shoe’s key selling point has been revamped and reinforced.
The idea of the 3.1 silhouette has been on Fieg’s to-do list for a very long time. His motive is to push the ASICS Tiger brand forward by releasing progressive designs. I guess this is a baby-step, but in the right direction at the very least. The competition isn’t staying stagnant and ASICS shouldn’t either.
The experimental Gel-Lyte 3.1 was always going to be either well-received or hated amongst the trainer community. That’s OK though. Fieg knew very well how sentimental the Gel-Lyte III is to fans, including himself even. But if anyone is qualified to do something revolutionary with the silhouette, it would be Ronnie Fieg.
Giving It New Life:
ASICS Gel-Lyte ‘Super Green’ 3.1
Despite being dubbed as the Gel-Lyte ‘Super Green’ 3.1, the colourway surprisingly features barely any electric green details. In fact, it was one of the main talking points and reasons why these were overlooked by many. However, the all-black nubuck-constructed upper makes it one of the more wearable pairs for all situations. Raining outside? Sorted. Going to a nightclub? No worries.
By amalgamating this versatile dark upper with a licorice-like midsole (which can’t be unseen), further comfort is added and the celebrated Gel-Lyte III is given new life. Fieg rounds off the shoe with great detail by adding his name on the insoles and stamping the heel with the ‘KITH V’ logo to cleverly coincide with the 5th year anniversary of the eminent boutique.
Only 700 pairs of the Gel-Lyte 3.1s were made globally and two more duos of his mythical colourways are expected to release throughout the year, specifically the ‘Salmon Toe’ and ‘Mossad’. After these retros (if you can even call it that), the 3.1 silhouette will “disappear forever”, never to be seen again.
All in all, to me it’s a shoe with a nice upper but the midsole might take some time to get used to. If what Fieg says is true, we’ll only get to see this combination this year. So even if it’s still an eyesore, it won’t be for too long.
What are your thoughts about it? Should the upper remain sitting atop the tri-density EVA midsole or is this the innovation ASICS needs? Let me know in the comments section below.