TWO weeks ago, Preview flew over to Singapore to celebrate the 100th birthday of Japanese sportswear giant ASICS' founding father Kihachiro Onitsuka, marking the festivities with the launch of its unifying sunflower-themed KO100 series spread across its three brands: ASICS, ASICS Tiger, and Onitsuka Tiger.
Founded in 1949 out of a desire to remotivate youth with sports after World War II, ASICS is, to put it lightly, legendary. The iconic criss-cross emblem speaks for itself, but what the company has in store next is truly groundbreaking: Kenichi Harano, Executive Officer of ASICS' Institute of Sports Science, came all the way from Kobe, Japan to share insights into the brand’s unique technological innovations, and even spoke about the unveiling of the next generation prototype model of spikeless sprint shoes.
No, seriously. While existing short-distance athletic sprint shoes feature spikes, the ASICS prototype introduces a new patented technology—a complex sole design of hollow, cylindrical shapes made with proprietary carbon fiber material—to help runners find their speed. So, so cool.
On the evening's theme, Kenichi explained Mr. Onitsuka's belief that sunflowers were the perfect symbol to inspire Japanese youth to regain their pride after the war: Just as the sunflower always faces towards the sun, young people should stand tall and face their bright futures straight on.
So, speaking of the future, how exactly do these classic, unforgettable kicks fit into fashion's current taste? Kenji Oh, Manager of the Brand Management Department at ASICS, paused for a quick chat with Preview to discuss.
How do you think the brand fits into the modern fashion scene right now?
"ASICS started out as a performance brand, but now we do have ASICS Tiger and Onitsuka Tiger as well. Of course, it's three completely different directions and brandings, so, especially for ASICS Tiger, it's really suitable for sneakerheads who care about not just form, but also function. And, as you know, the market for sneakers is super big right now. So I believe that we've got a lot of fans. But of course, I don't mean that we don't focus on the company's core, [which is] performance, as well. If you see the new lines, they're wearable for both sneakerheads and serious athletes. We've got lots of new design elements coming into play, so those will also attract the younger generations."
Describe the stylish woman who wears ASICS brands. What's her lifestyle like?
"It's difficult to describe her in one word, because ASICS is worn worldwide, and in every country, every city has its own lifestyle. Some people prefer modern and some prefer premium, but a word I think I can use [to encompass them all] is 'athleisure'. ASICS is for the woman who moves actively, who balances life with work. She's someone who takes the sporty style everywhere—from the office, then to her errands, and then directly to the gym. Whatever activity she's doing, she's all in one. She can even go shopping in the sneakers! She lives her daily life like this, from morning to night. She's active top-to-toe, whatever that means for her in the moment."