The renowned Japanese footwear experts Asics have arrived at Mainline Menswear this summer and their most famous silhouette is now available to buy online. Along with their subsidiary brand Onitsuka Tiger they are expected to bring some of the most sought after retro running shoes as well as other fashionable designs to add to the extensive collection of trainers already available.
Founded in Japan as Onitsuka Tiger in 1949, owner Kihachiro Onitsuka first set about the physiology behind shoe making and attempted to better the technology to make them. His mentality towards this led him into the realms of athletics and it grew to the extent that in the 60’s most of the top Olympic athletes were wearing them. A thirst for further development led them to gaining a foothold in other markets, creating basketball shoes, tennis shoes and football boots along with various others.
ASICS trainers are in the company’s eyes made “to satisfy both a healthy body and a healthy mind”- the name itself is a Latinate acronym for this phrase. The creator’s belief that both of these could be achieved through taking part in sport has been instilled faithfully in countless forms of the ASICS trainer designs.
Onitsuka- as they were first known- have shown a dedication to innovation since their very early days, evident from some of their sports shoes featuring vulcanised rubber soles which was just unheard of in the middle 19th century. It is said he drew inspiration for his early “Bashu” basketball shoe from the suction pads of an octopus. His mind clearly worked in a very abstract way and the tiger which appeared on the sole of that shoe became a company trademark motif as per the name it uses today.
Before the world was introduced to the brand known as ASICS, the recognizable four crossed stripes that grace the sides of their shoes belonged to Onitsuka Tiger before them. But In 1977, they joined into a three-way merger to form ASICS, and while they may have relinquished the name for a while, their stripes have been one of the major constants. With so many classic models left fondly in consumers imaginations though, it didn’t take too long before the Onitsuka Tiger brand was resurrected under the ASICS banner, originally catering more to Asian markets before crossing over to the States and building some notable momentum here over the last decade or so as a vintage/fashion orientated arm of the business, leaving Asics to develop the athletic and technology driven silhouettes.
Relation to Nike
Nike, originally known as BRS (Blue Ribbon Sport), was founded as an organisation to import and sell Onitsuka Tiger shoes in the US. When Phil Knight (co-founder) visited Japan in 1963 right before he graduated from Stanford University, he was that impressed by Onitsuka Tiger’s high quality and affordable pricing characteristics that he took it upon himself to become their sales agent in US.
The ASICS Stripe
The modern ASICS stripe was used for the first time with the LIMBER KAWA BK velour leather training shoes at the 5th Asian Games held in Bangkok in December 1966 and has its roots in the stripes seen on a tiger.
Look out for more retro styles like this below arriving at Mainline in the very near future
As any half keen footwear fanatic will be able to tell you, Onitsuka Tiger are well recognised for their Mexico 66 trainer, which is based on the ‘LIMBER’ leather shoes gifted to the national Japanese Olympic team in 1966 to use at the pre-Olympic trials for the 1968 Games. The ‘LIMBER’ was the first model to feature parent brand Asics’ iconic stripes on the side of the upper section and provides the design inspiration for all current Mexico 66 models. This design has been re-marketed as a vintage running shoe under the Onitsuka Tiger label once again and it is now a go-to shoe for men who use it as a staple of everyday street wear.
The “Retro Running” Mexico ’66 pack features four original colourways, a white leather and suede-capped pair that feature blue and red accents, as well as another white pair with brown ones, a green pair with white accents and mesh outer linings, and finally the yellow pair with black and brown details, again in the same style.
ASICS currently produce a wide variety of shoes and clothing both for sport and for fashion, the look and feel of this particular brand corresponds closely to popular ‘street’ or urban casual style, while still retaining the traits of its rich heritage, after all this is one of the oldest producers of sports footwear in the world. Now, ASICS shoes often serve equally well as sports shoes and casual shoes, the result is that the ASICS range has something for almost everyone.
The athletic-minded brand has turned its attention from simply performance into an aesthetics too and as a result they are a highly sought-after new generation sneaker thanks to a selection of well thought-out styles and certain collaborations, these eclectic capsule collections have opened up the brand to a much wider audience.
The new offerings are geared more towards casual clothing than sports performance and you can expect to see more of the same in the future as we will no doubt have more retro runners arriving in time for the next season. The difference between Onitsuka and Asics is that the latter sits alongside and competes with the likes of Nike and Adidas, releasing lightweight footwear like the Roshe Run which has been such a huge success in retail over the past couple of years. Though, much like Adidas has a sub-brand to target different audiences in Y3, Asics uses Onitsuka Tiger to a wider variety of consumer too and uses the vintage angle as a means of doing so.
See our current collection below.