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Asics Gel Lyte III and the history of the brand

June 2, 2021 12:00 PM
Asics Gel Lyte III and the history of the brand

Probably the best-known model of the ASCIS brand is the ASICS Gel Lyte III. In the running shoe universe, great importance is attributed to it, and possibly even regarded as the holy grail of running. We take a closer look at the model and also tell you the history of the ASICS brand.

Many people associate the brand more with sport and less with lifestyle. Let's see if this assumption is true!

Trip down Memory Lane: the birth of the brand

Kihachiro Onitsuka founded the brand in 1949 after returning from the war ONITSUKA Shokai in Kobe. The company name was later changed to ASICS. This is actually an acronym, and stands for the Latin expression "Anima Sana In Corpore Sano". This quote by the Roman satirist Juvenal means: "One should pray for a healthy mind in a healthy body".

Onitsuka got the saying from a wartime friend. The words touched and inspired him to produce sports shoes with a purpose. Namely, to promote healthy young people through sport.

Milestones of the ASICS brand

The basketball shoe you see in the photos is the first sports shoe made by the brand. At that time, basketball shoes were the most difficult sports shoes to produce. The founder believed that if he could overcome difficult challenges in the beginning, he could overcome all other hurdles. Players from leading basketball clubs of the time tested the prototypes until the first model was launched in the spring of 1950.

Of course, the most important thing was the performance when stopping, turning and sprinting. The Japanese had the brainwave for the development of the shoe when he saw an octopus soaked in vinegar. The suction cup basketball shoes were created.

In 1953, the first marathon shoe, the ONITSUKA Marathon TABI, was launched. It was based on the traditional indoor 'Tabi' shoes, which were still worn at sporting events in Japan at that time. It was equipped with rubber soles and an upper made of durable material.

After a shoe for marathon relay races, the MARUP made of genuine leather was released again for running. This featured a lightweight rubber sponge sole with significantly improved flexibility and shock-absorbing properties. From then on, the MARUP series used a variety of advanced materials. And this continued until 1981, when the successor series SORTIE was released.

Running shoes as a hobbyhorse of ASICS

The MAGIC RUNNER from 1960 was developed for marathon runners. At that time, it was a matter of course for athletes to have blisters on their feet. Consequently, the brand developed a novel venting system modelled on air-cooled motorbike engines. Thus, there were holes at the toes and on the sides of the shoe.

The winner of the silver medal in the 1968 International Marathon also wore the MAGIC RUNNER. That's why the sneaker became a product that marathon runners loved for many years.

In addition to marathon shoes, several categories of sports sneakers were developed for the international market in 1964. These included gymnastics, football, fencing and volleyball shoes. Brit Basil Heatley, winner of the silver medal in the International Marathon in 1964, also wore them, as did the Japanese runner who won the bronze medal in the same year.

The significant stripes

As the brand traditionally announced a new brand mark every four years, the Mexico line (today's ASICS stripes) was introduced in 1966 after an internal design competition. This later represented many designs. Among them the ONITSUKA TIGER, the ASICSTIGER and the ASICS shoes.

This led to the launch of the RUNSPARK series, which helped athletes perform at their best in all weather conditions. The series included the first track and field spikes with interchangeable pins.

In 1977, ONITSUKA Co. Ltd. and two other companies merged to form the equally owned 'ASICS Corporation', a general sporting goods company.

The phrase behind the brand name, which we already introduced to you at the beginning of the post, is the company philosophy. "Sport: the universal language" also established itself as the company slogan. Soon after, jogging as a healthy activity became a fad and ASICS released its first running shoes as a consequence.

The first models were then the MONTREAL II road shoes and the ENDURO marathon shoes. They marked ASICS' entry into the broader running shoe market.


In 1986, the first GEL-based shoe was launched with the silicone cushioning material that cushions the foot on impact.

The GEL was found in two running shoe models, the GT-II and the FREAKS. It also continued to evolve into one of the fundamental functional materials associated with ASICS today.

On the tenth anniversary of its founding, ASICS adopted a new corporate identity. The slogan changed to "Sports Technology for Active Lifestyles". At the same time, they freshened up the image of the ASICS logo with a thinner font.

Asics Gel Lyte III

Then in 1991, the ultra-light successor to the legendary GT II, the world's first shoe with patented GEL cushioning, was introduced to the market. It convinced with a great further development of the successful sole system. It also added further innovative tech features. These included the split tongue construction for even better comfort and support. In 2007, we were finally happy about the re-release as a lifestyle sneaker. This was followed by regular remakes as well as prestigious collaborations with artists and leading sneaker stores such as Atmos and Patta.

The sports shoe is now an urban must-have for sneaker addicts who are looking for a shoe with many features. It also offers style, comfort and traction. Its unique feature is the split tongue. This still makes it stand out from the crowd of shoes today.

Soon we can also look forward to the Concepts X ASICS Gel-Lyte III 'Salmon', which is expected to arrive in June. You can bookmark the release via the button or simply in our Sneakerjagers app.