Innovation Sensation: the Return of the Iconic ASICS GEL-Kayano 5 - The Drop Date

Innovation Sensation: the Return of the Iconic ASICS GEL-Kayano 5


ASICS GEL-Kayano 5

The ASICS GEL-KAYANO 5 remains to be an unsung icon within the world of footwear design. Whilst other models from the ASICS catalogue have been widely celebrated for many years, the KAYANO has kept out of the spotlight, making rare appearances every now and then, occasionally finding itself utilised in a collaborative project. Originally created by the legendary footwear designer for ASICS Japan, Toshikazu Kayano, this revolutionary line was designed as a runner/training hybrid specifically for the US market.

As an unsung hero, it may come as a surprise to learn that the KAYANO series has grown to 25 versions of the original design. It’s certainly come a long way since the first model’s inception back in 1993, which was originally inspired by the shape and contours of a stag beetle. The concept of the KAYANO adheres to the Japanese philosophy of kaizen: the study of gradual improvement, which can be clearly seen within the KAYANO editions that have followed ’93’s debut release.

To those who are unfamiliar with the shoe, it’s an adaptable running design which has occasionally stepped over into cross-trainer territory at times. But far from being a simple fashion design, the KAYANO is a truly functional and performance-tuned piece of footwear, worn consistently by athletes and sporting heroes. And whilst visual trends come and go, the genuine technical advantages within the shell are just as relevant today as they were almost two decades ago.

The ASICS GEL-KAYANO 5 – the fifth model of the series – was released in 1999, with a more pronounced shape that offered unparalleled stability and support. With the current interest in chunkier, more substantial silhouettes, it’s the perfect moment for the design to return, this time to the streets rather than the race track. After an appearance at June’s Paris Fashion Week in its original blue/yellow colour scheme, the shoe has now finally re-released in a new improved form that’s bound to find fans within today’s footwear community. With this in mind, we sat down with two connoisseurs and fans of the brand, DAN PACITTI and JOEL STODDART, to get their thoughts on the return of this classic design…

ASICS GEL-Kayano 5

ASICS GEL-Kayano 5

TDD: Do you think that people in London have focused more on the running shoe aesthetic partly because there’s never really been a strong basketball culture or scene here in the UK?

Joel: As kids, I don’t think we ever focused on any specific sporting affiliation. It was more about who we saw wearing particular shoes. Watching music videos and seeing what the artists were wearing had much more of an effect on us than sports did.

TDD: With that in mind, what do you think about seeing performance footwear, such as the GEL-KAYANO 5, repurposed and given a new lease of life, but in a fashion sense?

Joel: Ten years ago, you might have pulled out different shoes for different purposes: you’d have your lifestyle pairs for everyday wear and separate shoes for other activities. You can tell that a lot more development and time has gone into these performance-focused designs. As we weren’t following sporting endorsements as closely, there was always more of a focus on the fashion aspect.

Dan: It’s made me appreciate general release product a lot more. Many of these shoes have been built with a specific purpose in mind, so the design and feel is often quite different when compared to a lifestyle shoe.

TDD: Is the technology aspect a consideration when you’re looking at shoes? Or is it still approached purely from an aesthetics angle?

Dan: The technology is still important. If you look at a shoe such as the Quantum 360, that’s still the comfiest shoe I own.

Joel: The older I get, the more I appreciate comfort. That’s probably one of the first considerations in a designer’s mind when they’re creating footwear like this. On some of the more lifestyle-targeted models, the technical aspects are less visible and are more concealed within the design. I appreciate how things such as the form stripes on the sides have a dual purpose: they’re for pronation, but they also act as lace loops as well.

TDD: The more technical shoes from that era tend to have more panels and sections to play with, in terms of colouration. There’s been a recent move from simply picking the same classic silhouettes and looking at completely different designs for collaborative projects…

Dan: With a lot of collaborations, you don’t get to do much more than fancy colour blocking, but with a technical shoe like the KAYANO, there’s more scope to play with layers and materials as well. There are only so many colourways you can put on the same few models before it starts all looking the same.

TDD: A brand like ASICS has a lot of heritage to draw on, which makes the return of a shoe like the GEL-KAYANO 5 an authentic experience rather than something that’s been driven by trends. At the moment, we’re witnessing the ‘Dad shoe’ trend, which seems to embrace these older, less-visible designs from brands’ archives…

Dan: The people that designed these types of shoe were thinking of its intended purpose, rather than following fashion. I’m not that surprised to see it being adopted now. The ‘dad shoe’ trend may die out, but people will still wear these shoes.

Joel: The trend aspect is good if it’s introducing this kind of footwear to a younger market who might not have seen shoes like these in the past. Once the trend moves on, there will be some people who’ve realised that these shoes are comfortable and that you can wear them with a more technical outfit. It doesn’t have to be performance led anymore.

Dan: Now, I find the performance designs more appealing. They’re a bit more obscure. You’re less likely to see someone else wearing exactly the same shoe as you. ASICS have good options for everyone.

Joel: A shoe like the GEL-KAYANO 5 stands out in the current landscape – many brands have been pushing the same models for a while now. To find a genuine archival design that still looks this unconventional almost 20 years after its release is refreshing.

The ASICS GEL-KAYANO 5 is AVAILABLE NOW. Click the banner below to get your feet into a pair – and pay homage to the forefathers of the ‘dad shoe’ trend…

ASICS GEL-Kayano 5

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