Lauding a Legend: The History of the ASICS GEL-Lyte III

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With every new year brings new landmarks. And as we creep curiously close to 2020, we also creep closer to the 30th anniversary of one of ASICS’ all-time greats, the GEL-Lyte III. Here we take time to look back at the silhouette’s momentous rise to becoming one of the most subversive running shoes ever produced.

ASICS GEL-Lyte III Model shot

Before the III, ASICS had been utilising dual-density soles for a number of years. Matsui-San – ASICS’ head designer – tore this tradition with the introduction of all-new technology.

Initially rejected by ASCIS, Matsui-san’s ingenious idea was introducing a tri-density sole unit. The complex construct – made from a combination of soft and hard foam – was, as Matsui affirms, ‘very difficult technology’.

However, when engineers realised how the additional density dramatically enhanced shock-absorption and comfort for the wearer, the technology swiftly succeeded in providing runners with the most comfort they’d experienced from a GEL-Lyte.

The 10-ounce trainer was also the first Lyte to feature a split tongue. Embedded to cushion and hug the foot for enhanced comfort, the split tongue became a trademark for the GEL-Lyte series and a firm favourite among runners and collectors for years to come.

ASICS GEL-Lyte III on foot

It wasn’t just the shoe’s tailor-made tech which made the GEL-Lyte unique; its aesthetic was also disruptively distinctive. Vibrant colour-blocked uppers – which had become synonymous with the GEL-Lyte lineage – were now complemented by visible GEL in the III’s heel tab, while a 3M GEL logo was placed behind the heel bars. As Matsu-san puts it ‘we just needed to make sure that ASCIS was recognisable’.

After its inception back in 1990, the III was developed into the GEL-Lyte IV & V which eventually minimised the shoe’s popularity. However, this changed in the early noughties after a series of coveted collaborations with top-tier names brought the GEL-Lyte III back into the spotlight.

Ever since, its inviting technologies, eye-pleasing palettes and vintage charm have seen the silhouette become one of the most cherished and recognisable trainers in footwear history.

2020 will be the last time you’ll be able to get your hands on the OG GEL-Lyte III, as designer Matsui-san enters the final year of his illustrious career.

Fortunately, we’re stocking the GEL-Lyte III in its original colourway while stocks last. The pair returns with all its vintage features including those vibrant uppers, that unique split tongue and of course, the seminal tri-density EVA midsole underfoot.

To take a closer look at the GEL-Lyte III in all its OG glory, click on through.


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