ASICS gives Paris Fashion Week a moment away from the madness

The footwear brand popped-up in the French capital just in time for the men’s shows, inviting visitors into a serene inner-city oasis featuring four (!) new collabs.

Sometimes, in a capital city, you need a moment of calm. This can be tricky when you’re packed inside a hot metro, sandwiched between hundreds of other pedestrians on a packed pavement or stuck inside the confines of your office. Even more so when 44 million tourists come to Paris every year, whether that’s to get an eyeful of the Eiffel Tower or catch a glimpse of whatever’s going down at fashion week. Basically, what we’re trying to say is: no matter the time of year, Paris gets busy, and by definition, pretty hectic.

Last week was an especially chaotic one, as the city played host to Men’s Fashion Week, while simultaneously gearing up for a parliamentary election. If only there was a place to retreat to for a bit of peace and quiet…

Luckily, we seem to have manifested this into existence. From Thursday to Saturday, ASICS popped up in Paris with a clean-cut space designed to create a sense of tranquility, inviting the fashion crowd to step out of the city’s commotion and into an area of relaxation.

This is far from the first time the footwear brand has dipped its toes into wellness, though. The clue is in the name: ASICS is an acronym for a Latin phrase that translates to Sound mind, sound body”. As a rough translation, staying active is a good way to keep your mental health in check. There’s nothing like a brisk walk to a calm spot to make your racing thoughts slow down, right?

With this in mind, the Paris pop-up featured a minimalist interior inspired by ASICS’ Japanese heritage. Draped curtains and the space’s white hues made for a calming ambiance; meanwhile, soft fabric suspended from the ceiling guided us from room to room, and blocks of cushioned seating allowed punters to rest their weary legs after a day spent running around the city.

The pop-up doubled up as a kind of gallery space, too: ASICS’ latest SportStyle models were on display, so we could see every detail up close, from a retrofuturistic pair of GEL-QUANTUM 360™ VIII’s to the dead comfy GEL-NIMBUS™ 10.1’s. A bit of a footwear museum, if you will.

Realistically, if you’re in Paris for fashion week, every other person you lay eyes on will likely be wearing a pair of ASICS. This means that variety is key, and this time around, the brand hasn’t scrimped on that. Those who made it down to the pop-up were among the first to see four brand new pairs of ASICS trainers, all created in collaboration with some of fashion and architecture’s hottest designers.

First up: a reimagining of the GEL-QUANTUM 360™ VIII, courtesy of none other than Copenhagen designer Cecilie Bahnsen. 5D print overlays, florals, nostalgic velcro strap – this shoe has it all. But if that weren’t enough, it was showcased alongside a photoshoot by Casper Sejersen, starring the Danish gymnast Frida Lund.

Then came the Archisite ORU™, engineered by Japanese architect Kengo Kuma. Doubling down on ASICS’ heritage, this pair of kicks is designed to withstand, well anything – while looking really, really good. Deftly weaving together architecture and fashion, the ArchiSite ORU™ uppers are inspired by yatra-ami, a traditional bamboo craft technique.

ASICS’ appreciation for Japanese craft didn’t end there, either. Enter: a collaboration with Doublet, the cult streetwear brand run by Masayuki Ino. The new GEL-KAYANO™ 20 takes inspiration from the most mundane of materials, cardboard, injecting it with colour-changing technology; for the occasion, Doublet also customised 20 pairs of the GEL-NIMBUS™ 10.1 with smashed cow leather, which sounds a bit like a brunch dish but is actually a glorious new texture. Just trust us.

Last but not least, ASICS debuted a design devised with Australian sneaker boutique Up There. The GEL-TERRAIN™ makes the most of the contrast between natural/​artificial, by using both organic and synthetic textiles. At the pop-up, the candy-coloured shoes were modelled on Sarah-Lucas-style legs made from recycled materials.

All of this, though, was the calm before the storm. On Friday night, ASICS put on a party with NTS Radio as part of Paris’ Fête de la Musique. Brazilian DJ Cashu, party-starter Jeune Pouce, footwork don Kush Jones, NTS resident Liyo, Melbourne techno selector Sophie McAlister and kuduro star Vanyfox packed their record bags with sounds from across the globe for a proper knees-up, giving the Paris It-crowd – and their ASICS – a serious test run.

Thankfully, the pop-up was still open the next day, which only meant one thing: more time for respite from the madness. Onto the next.

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