Asics has developed strong bonds over 70 years with the retailers selling its sneakers. Here, six longtime retail partners share why the brand has been — and always will be — crucial to their business.
Chairman, president and CEO of Foot Locker Inc.
“Asics has been able to connect great performance product with meaningful lifestyle influences that are very relevant to our customers. We continue to see that opportunity going forward with the Asics and Onitsuka brands. [And] in 2015, we partnered with Asics and Pensole Footwear Design Academy to create Fueling the Future of Footwear. It was a learn-by-doing competition that yielded new products for Asics that were available only at Foot Locker. The winning team received a scholarship, which helped them continue their design education to fuel the future of footwear design in our industry.”
Founder of Big Peach Running Co. (Georgia)
“When we opened our first store 15 years ago, Asics was the first brand that not only indicated that they believed in what we intended to do but also showed us by opening our account and putting in resources to get us going. With their footprint in run speciality at that time, that support was instrumental in getting us off on the right foot. We’ll always be grateful for Asics’ approach to our partnership, and we’re still excited about the brand. And there’s tremendous equity in both the Asics name and their technologies, from the ones they’ve had for quite some time to the newer ones like we’re seeing with the MetaRide.”
Owner of Charm City Run (Maryland)
“If you’ve read ‘Shoe Dog’ and know the story of [Nike co-founder] Phil Knight, you know there’s no Nike without Asics. When you think about that and Asics’ influence on run, almost everything that’s happened in run happened because of Asics. There isn’t a more important brand out there in run specialty. When we started 17 years ago, the No. 1 specialty running brand was Asics. It’s what serious runners wore, there was trust in the brand, and it was hard to open a specialty run store without Asics. Their heritage models have a following globally — everyone knows the 2000, what the Kayano is, the cloud shoes Cumulus and Nimbus. It’s important to our business because it creates a foundation. People come in and are like, ‘I’ve always had this shoe, this is what I like.’ I wouldn’t say any sales are easy, but those sales are fairly easy when the next model comes out and people are like, ‘Yup, that’s what I want. I’ll be back for another one in six months.’”
Owner of Naperville Running Co. (Illinois)
“They’re a very important part of what got us here today, and they’ve always had our back. When we started 19 years ago, we got the approval for an Asics account, and that was the one where we were doing high-fives and thought we could make this business a go. They were a key brand and the hardest to get open with, the most selective. Their sales management came down to Naperville and met with me at my house, reviewed my full business plan and approved us. At that time, if you ranked brands, Asics was the one we needed more than anybody — that speaks volumes to how important they are. They’re also one of the brands that jumped in and gave us products that were for our trade channel only. They were one of the first to do run specialty-exclusive stuff, and they have evolved that over the years.”
CEO of TGS Inc., parent company of Extra Butter and other stores (New York)
“TGS’ business with Asics dates back to the early ’90s when we stocked models like the Gel-Spotlyte and Kayano Trainers in our original Renarts door — we had great success with them for years. Our relationship hit new heights in 2012 when our team pitched an ambitious five-shoe collaborative project inspired by Quentin Tarantino’s ‘Kill Bill’ saga dubbed ‘Death List 5.’ There were a lot of firsts with that project — for Asics, it was the first time they had collaborated with a shop for a five-shoe story, and it was the first time the Gel Epirus and GT Cool would be used in a collaboration. For us, it was the first time we did a project of that scale in terms of financial and marketing investments. It was a huge success and helped bring a global spotlight to the Extra Butter brand. We teamed up again in 2015 on the Gel Lyte V ‘Karaoke’ inspired by a beautifully crafted scene in Sofia Coppola’s ‘Lost in Translation.’”
Owner of Pacers Running (Washington, D.C. & Virginia)
“Asics is such an iconic brand in the specialty running market. They’re vital to our success because our customer knows Asics and expects excellence from them. They are very meaningful to us and how we do as a company. Moving forward, I feel like they’re going to take more chances and bring products to market that they might not have in the past. We’ve seen an example with the MetaRide — it’s innovative, it challenges the norm of Asics, and it’s a real step in the right direction. It’s a hero product that Asics could look to be part of their future and harness with their legend models the Cumulus, Kayano, 2000 and Nimbus.”
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