The sneaker world keeps expanding—and if your brand doesn’t move, it dies. It’s a sentiment the almost 70-year-old sneaker company Asics knows quite well. Of course, adapting to the times can also mean getting back to your roots, which is exactly what the brand is doing with a new relaunch inspired by the very thing that spurred its creation: movement.
Asics might be most widely known for its running shoes (30 percent of NYC marathon runners use them), but it also has Asics Tiger and Onitsuka Tiger as its more fashion-forward lines. The three brands aren’t necessarily known to be from the same parent company, and yet they were all founded on the same notion of movement and fitness. We sat down with America President & CEO Gene McCarthy to talk about getting back to the brand’s core DNA and the future of fitness fashion.
On the purpose of the relaunch
Not a lot of people know the true Asics story. It was founded in war-torn Japan after World War II, when our founder [Kihachiro Onitsuka] thought kids needed move and exercise more. It wasn’t founded as a running shoe company—what a lot of people know it as today—but instead it was founded on the purpose of movement and exercise. “Asics” is actually a Latin acronym: anima sana in corpore sano, meaning “of sound mind, of sound body.” People don’t know that story, and I think it’s an important one to tell. Nobody cares about your brand until they know what your brand cares about.
On the evolution of fitness fashion
We call it “the end of the ‘ers.'” No one wants to be a runner or a tennis player [only]. You want that choice; you want the variety of different workouts. Running is still our heart and soul, but we really prioritize fitness in general. And we’re not here to tell you what to do—it’s really all about movement. You tell us how you move, and we’ll take it from there.
On the future of fitness
Kids’ participation in team sports is declining. Does that mean healthcare will turn to sick care? The brand was founded to get kids to get up and move, and every sport involves some sort of movement. Asics, Asics Tiger, Onitsuka Tiger—they all hit a different point for people; they’re an evolution of the brand. Your shoe and your workout choice is a very individual, personal thing. It’s more than running; it’s fitness in general. Plus, you’re not going to be a runner unless you move first.