For a long time, Asics sneakers were the sole preserve of extreme runners and style-agnostic dads. But over the last few years, slowly and then seemingly all at once, the Japanese sportswear juggernaut caught fire with another demographic entirely: style-pilled fellas less interested in logging miles than dressing like they could—y’know, the type of guys behind this very publication.
Asics didn’t explode in popularity overnight. The brand has been around in one form or another since 1949, and diehard sneakerheads will remind you that it wasn’t that long ago that the Gel-Lyte III was a bona fide collaborative grail. But its status in 2024 as one of the biggest stories in sneakers boils down to an archive packed with right-now silhouettes from the not-too-distant past, an assortment that continues to influence the biggest, boldest names in menswear—and inspire entirely new silhouettes in the process.
7 Asics Silhouettes Worth a Spot in Your Rotation
In other words, there’s never been more ways to add some tiger stripes to your rotation, but buying the right pair of Asics sneakers is no longer a matter of figuring out which one best suits your running stride. So to help you home in on the model worth your time, we went deep on 7 of the most noteworthy silhouettes in the brand’s arsenal, each one ready and raring to anchor baggy jeans and cropped jackets—or just help you beat the rush en route to the sneaker store. In the spirit of Asics itself, scroll through the below, decide what you like, and then haul ass to get ‘em before they’re gone.
The Don’t-Overthink-It Pick: Asics Gel-Kayano 14
The Asics archive is brimming with retro bangers, but the top dog—the one that helped put aught-era running shoes on the map—is the Gel Kayano 14. The silhouette first hit shelves in 2008, but in the time since it’s enjoyed a second life as a surprise fashion crowd favorite, culminating in its underdog win as GQ’s Sneaker of 2023. A slew of buzzy collaborations might’ve supercharged its return, but even general-release versions can be tricky to buy, and for good reason. The Gel-Kayano 14 isn’t just one of the most recognizable It shoes on the market—it remains every bit the performance shoe it was back in ‘08, the silhouette near single-footedly responsible for Asics’s current reign atop the charts.
The Sleeper Pick: Asics Gel-1130
The Gel-1130 boasts all the hallmarks of another archival hit: mesh base, swooping tiger stripes, easy-riding thick sole. Though the silhouette cribs freely from the kicks 10K warriors wore at Limewire’s peak, it actually debuted in 2021. The biggest way the 1130 diverges from shoes like the Kayano 14 and Asics’ suite of modern running sneakers? Price. At around $100 retail depending on where you buy it, it’s the ideal entry-level option for anyone interested in what Asics has to offer, but loath to enter a raffle—or contend with the aftermarket—to get it.
The Stock-Rising Pick: Asics GT-2160
Last year, when the top brass at Asics HQ started thinking about dusting off the GT-2160, an award-winning runner from 2011, the brand was already seeing a surge of interest in what it refers to as “vintage tech” models like the Gel-Kayano 14. The GT-2160 felt like the Kayano 14’s natural successor—and the marketing team knew exactly how to anoint it. In 2023, Asics quietly enlisted a roster of fashion-world collaborators to put their spin on the silhouette, the same approach that helped propel the Kayano 14 to the forefront of the menswear conversation. Unlike the Kayano, though, the GT-2160 has yet to reach peak saturation—though if the chatter surrounding its every release is any indication, that won’t last long.
The New-School Pick: Asics Gel-NYC
The aptly-named Gel-NYC first debuted in 2023 in collaboration with Queens native, and Awake NY founder, Angelo Baque. But its New York roots also manifest in the way it wraps disparate elements—in this case a trio of Asics models from three different decades—in an entirely new silhouette. The upper draws inspiration from the ’90s-era Gel-MC Plus and the circa-2000s Gel Nimbus 3, while the sole is lifted from a pair of Gel Cumulus 16 shoes from 2014. The result of all of that remixing? A shoe that somehow looks like it’s been around forever and feels extremely right now.
The Trend-Agnostic Pick: Asics EX89
Asics is behind some of the hottest kicks on the market, but the sportswear juggernaut knows its way around the classics, too. Enter the EX89, a low profile, eminently affordable basketball shoe that initially debuted in (you guessed it) 1989, and has remained a sleeper hit ever since. The pared-down vibe doesn’t pop as much on the ‘gram, but if you’d prefer to stay blissfully unaware of whatever trends your buddies are chasing—or just need sneakers that look good with shorts, jeans, and everything between—you’d be hard-pressed to find a better option.
The Fan Favorite Pick: Asics Gel-Nimbus 9
If the Gel Kayano 14 is the chart-topping hit, the Gel Nimbus 9 is the B-side track that diehard fans play on repeat. Like the Kayano 14, the silhouette was introduced in the late aughts as a long-distance running shoe, but these days, you’re more likely to see it on well-dressed folks at the coffee shop. The biggest difference between the Nimbus 9 and the Kayano 14 is the former’s bubbly sole unit, which makes for a delightfully retro-futuristic look that skews more futuristic than retro. You can’t go wrong with either, but in 2024, the Nimbus 9 might turn a few more heads.
The True Performance Pick: Asics Gel-Kayano 30
Given all the hype surrounding Asics’s retro models, it’s easy to forget that the Japanese footwear juggernaut makes some of the best pure performance runners, too. The latest iteration of the Gel-Kayano debuted just last year, but it looks a heckuva lot different than any of the other silhouettes on this list, an indication of the enormous strides Asics has made in the performance space over the last couple of decades. The Gel-Kayano 30 ditches the multi-paneled upper in favor of a single piece of lightweight knit fabric, which sits atop a thick, plush foam outsole. Buy them now to hit the track and you’ll be ten years early when fellas start wearing ’em everywhere else.
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