HANON Meet Mitsui-San of ASICS; creator of the GEL-LYTE III
Next year, ASICS celebrates the 30th anniversary of the iconic GEL-LYTE III silhouette, a silhouette which was so far ahead of its time when it dropped in 1990, with its triple-density sole and split tongue. However, it wasn’t until the mid 2000s when the silhouette really hit its peak and was picked up by footwear enthusiasts globally and turned into one of the most-beloved lifestyle sneakers of the time.
Located inside ASICS HOUSE during Paris Fashion Week is a recreation of chief designer Shigeyuki Mitsui’s studio from the 90s. We had the honour to sit down with him in his newly 'recreated' studio to ask him some questions about his beloved GLIII and ASICS. So without further adieu here's our chat with the man himself...
Q: Hi Mitsui-San, thanks for taking the time to speak with us. Presently, if I’m not mistaken, you started with ASICS in 1984 which means you’ve been with the brand for an incredible 35 years. What were some of the first shoes that you worked on in your early years at the brand?
A: The GEL-LYTE III was not the first shoe that I designed, and I actually worked on some cycling shoes specifically the Comp Royal from 1985. I also worked a little bit on the original GEL-LYTE with my senior designer, but only on the midsole and heel protector, then on the GEL-LYTE II, maybe half of the shoe. Then, finally, I fully designed the GEL-LYTE III, so it was like a process from 1-3.
Q: You’re probably most known for being the designer of the Gel-Lyte III, can you tell us a bit about the thought process behind the design of that model?
A: In that time, ASICS was a really honest company so that means that there were scientists researching function, and shoe engineers to make really good quality shoes. So sometimes that means the process is to make a really traditional and conservative design, so I wanted to keep the great quality and function that ASICS are known for but change the appearance and make a unique design.
Q: The GLIII is probably most known for its unique split tongue but it wasn’t the first ASICS silhouette that featured this design element?
A: The LD-Racer was the first shoe to have the split tongue and was created by my senior designer.
Q: Next year, the GLIII will be celebrating its 30th anniversary. Did you ever think that the model you created in 1990 would have stood the test of time and be as revered as it is today?
A: Honestly speaking, I didn’t believe that these shoes would live as long as they have, so it is great to see other designers and creators put their own image and design aspect on the GEL-LYTE III.
Q: Which is your favourite colourway of the GEL-LYTE III?
A: When we put the original colours on the shoe, we proposed two colourways to the marketing team and I actually preferred the other colourway but they overruled me and wanted to go with the citrus and green colourway! [Laughs]