1949 Onitsuka launched
Following the destruction in Japan of World War II, Kihachiro Onitsuka created Onitsuka Co Ltd. He believed he could raise the self-esteem of the post-war youngsters through athletics. The company was known as Onitsuka Tiger.
1977 Asics is born
Onitsuka Tiger, Jelenk (a knitwear manufacturer) and GTO (a sportswear and net manufacturer) united in 1977 to create ASICS, following their work together creating a regional sales office. ASICS takes its name from an acronym of the Latin phrase "anima sang in corpore sano" that translates as "a healthy mind in a healthy body". This phrase was Mr Onitsuka's mantra throughout the development of his company.
1986 GEL technology introduced
The GEL era began here, in 1986, with the first use of the new GEL technology in the Freaks silhouette. This was just the beginning of the ASICS heritage built on a combination of traditional performance shoe style combined with a reflective, flamboyant design. The first GEL technology was built to reduce the chance of impact injuries. The silicone based substance was embedded into the EVA midsole, specifically placed to absorb shock and dissipate vibration.
1987 Original GEL-Lyte launched
"Run with the speed of Lyte" - the original GEL-Lyte set the standard for a series that would remain at the forefront of ASICS' offerings right up to today. Weighing in at less than a pound, the shoe was ultra light and built to liberate the athlete's run.
The debut of the new GEL technology meant that even an older favourite was due an upgrade, applying new GEL units and a toe cutaway to up the appeal. The Epirus has rarely been seen since the '80s, but this big hitter was an ASICS flagship that gave us male and female specific versions.
1989 GEL-Lyte II
The second in the series, the GEL-Lyte II came out looking very similar to its predecessor. ASICS remained committed to producing a lightweight performance shoe and the GEL-Lyte sequel contained an internal moulded PVC heel counter. New colour hits at the collar gave the GEL-Lyte II its visual edge.
1990 GEL-Lyte III
The most popular entry in the series, the GEL-Lyte III attracted footwear fans due to its accessibility as a streetwear shoe. No longer chained to the track, the GEL-Lyte III was taken on by athletes and fashion-fans alike. The innovative split-tongue was a key selling point, alongside the quirky reflective heel panel, and the III is commonly thought of as the most comfortable GEL-Lyte model.
Created by Shigeyuki Mitsui, the GEL-Lyte III was the shoe that broke the mould of conventional shoe design. After working at ASICS for 5 years, Mitsui-San designed the shoe that would become a legend. His mission was to create a performance shoe that was functional and stylish. Over 25 years later, it's iconic.
Another big favourite comes in the form of the GEL-Saga. GEL technology in the rear, a lightweight synthetic upper and an upgraded style to the sole, the GEL-Saga amassed its own following. A collaborator's favourite, the GEL-Saga has made its name as a kick to collect.
1992 GEL-Lyte Ultra
In Japan the number four is considered unlucky, and for that reason technically no GEL-Lyte IV exists. The GEL-Lyte Ultra came swiftly in to fill that gap, with a brand new outsole built to flex with the foot in a way that hadn't been done before. The new panels built across the upper made for one of the more dramatic design changes in the series.
1993 GEL-Lyte V
The GEL-Lyte V brought more subtle updates to the series. Its design was very similar to that of the Ultra, but new mesh inserts on the toe box and side panels increased breathability and made the V a popular long distance runner.
Built for the ultimate shock absorption, the Kayano was created for the high-mileage runner. Inspired by the exoskeletal strength of a stag beetle, shoe developer Toshikazu Kayano gave the silhouette its durable framework. Theta GEL refract cushioning and a porous P-GEL in the forefoot combined to make a comfortable classic.
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