ASICS: 100 Years On and Still Fleet of Foot


ASICS: 100 Years On and Still Fleet of Foot

Japanese sports brand ASICS wants to be known for more than just making quality running gear but it’s not looking to forgo science for fashion. AWANI Review caught up with the company’s executive officer and material development expert Kenichi Harano to get a gauge on the company’s next steps.

Japanese sports brand ASICS is synonymous with high-performance, so much so it has cemented a formidable reputation for continuing to lead innovation in the running industry.

So, it comes as no surprise, given that science and innovation is at the heart of ASICS, the company flew Kenichi Harano, senior manager from its Kobe-based Institute of Sport Science (ISS), and expert in material development, to Singapore to commemorate ASICS founder Kihachiro Onitsuka’s 100th birthday and legacy.

(The late Onitsuka founded the company in 1949. He started by manufacturing basketball shoes. The company had since created shoes for multiple sports but it is most famous for its running gear)

“Since inception, our philosophy has never changed. We always focus on athletes,” says Harano through a translator.

“There’s something that we call as human centric science - that is the core of ASICS. We analyse the human body movement, we create original materials and develop structural designs.

“We’ll create prototypes of the shoes, ask people wear it, get feedback, do more analysis on the design and technology before coming up with the final product,” says Harano, emphasising the role of ISS in marrying sports intelligence with the natural elements of the human body in its innovations.

Harano, backed with expertise in chemical science and engineering, also gave his thoughts on broadening the brand’s appeal on the back of widening growth for fashionable sportswear.

“Yes, we are looking to broaden our appeal. However, I must emphasise that ASICS is a brand known for top sports performance. We hope that consumers understand our philosophy is performance, not just fashion.”

He uses ASICS’ recent collaboration with Bulgarian menswear designer Kiko Kostadinov as example.

“They collaborated with us because they understand our philosophy. We are not just fashion; that’s what they liked about us."

“We always target the athletes first. After that, we expand to consumers, which market share is about 55 percent,” explains Harano.

During the commemoration, Harano also announced that ASICS will be introducing a product that ‘will introduce a new running experience’ in 2019, without giving out much details.

The 26th edition of its long-running Gel Kayano series will be introduced next year as well.

While 2020 is going to be a big year for the ASICS. It is currently in the midst of developing an athlete sprint shoe in conjunction with the Tokyo Olympics.