The ASICS Gel-Lyte 3 entered the world in 1990, but its time in the sun came two decades later. The sneaker, best known for its split-tongue design, gained a steady momentum of hype and overall interest after Dutch sneaker store Patta’s collaboration on the model in 2007 that would be followed up with projects from the likes of Solebox, Kith, Concepts, Colette, and plenty more retailers worldwide. The sneaker would reach its zenith in 2015, the shoe’s 25th anniversary, when a bevvy of collaborations were released. Since then, it’s yet to return to those heights. There have been some recent releases that have made the Gel-Lyte 3 bubble again, and Concepts might be the one that pushes it over the top.
Over the past few years, we’ve seen sneakers such as the Nike Dunk, one of the greatest sneakers of all time that fell into a brief lull, reemerge as a consistently coveted within the sneaker world. And maybe it’s time for the Gel-Lyte 3 to make a similar comeback. It could all start with Concepts’ upcoming collaboration on the model, which is inspired by the sneaker’s homeland: Japan, as that’s where the brand is from and the shoe’s original designer is also Japanese.
The sneaker, called the “Otoro,”is inspired by tuna and the shades of the fish meat that are a favorite amongst sushi connoisseurs. It’s done up in shades of buttery pink suede that look amazing (that’s not hyperbole, just take a look for yourself). There’s also a graphic inspired by Japan on the insole and an alternate pair of green laces to represent wasabi eaten with the sushi. The darker hues on the shoe are made to resemble the Michelin Star guides, as Japan is home to many of these restaurants.
To get a better understanding of the sneaker and its accompanying apparel collection, we spoke to Concepts’ creative director Deon Point about the Asics Gel Lyte III “Otoro.”
Expect the sneakers and clothes to release on June 11 at 11 am on Concepts’ website, as well as the company’s Boston, New York, and Dubai locations.
How did this collaboration happen?
It’s been in the works for some time, if I’m not mistaken we were discussing this at the beginning of 2020 to celebrate Concepts’ 25th anniversary. When the world started shutting down, we had to fallback a bit to let everything take its course. Although not ideal, it gave us a bit more time to dial in the overall design.
Concepts has done a few Gel Lyte 3s in the past. How do you rank this one against the others?
I can honestly say this is my favorite. Typically, when something’s in my office as long as these I tend to not look back, but these have grown on me more and more.
What’s your best story from going to Japan?
I usually have a story for every place I’ve been, but in all of my Japan trips have been low key. It’s a place where you just appreciate the way of life, people, and attention to detail. We did plan on eating once we landed and the crew went for sushi. Being that I don’t partake I basically went 18 hours without eating, so I indulged in wagyu and got extremely sick. Sounds like rich people’s problems, but it was expensed.
Can you talk through the design of the shoe?
Given ASICS’ rich history in Japan, we wanted to find something that spoke to that. Past collabs have favored Concepts’ history, so we felt this was a moment to shine a light in a different direction. The actual backstory on otoro was enough to be pulled in. When we started to look into how many Michelin Star restaurants there were in Tokyo it all came together. We try to weave luxury into all of our collabs, some more obvious than others, but between the overpriced auctions at Tsukiji market to three star restaurants, we knew we had something to talk about. Then Netflix dropped the doc, haha.
I saw all the samples you posted in the background on Instagram. How hard was it to come to the final pair?
Given the aforementioned problems regarding delays, we had time to sample more often than normal. This gave us a rare opportunity to fine tune it. I stole a quote from the movie Burnt, which was perfect to summarize. “If it’s not perfect, you throw it away…regardless of time.” It aligned given the backstory, but it’s something we obsess over when it comes to details. Even the stupid shit like captions are all planned out.
It’s been a few years since Gel Lyte 3s have made a buzz. Do you think now is the right time?
We will always have an affinity for new model, classics are constant. After a quarter century we appreciate the ability to do both. Quality is king so timing is an afterthought.
Anything special we can expect for the release?
Hopefully a lot of chefs in line.