20 years of innovation in running technology
Q: How did you start designing KAYANO?
Kayano-san: It was 1992, 5 years after I joined ASICS as a shoe developer. I and the latest technology. After drawing over 30 sketches, we were still not happy with the design so the company sent me to the States where I could work more closely with the Product Marketing team.
The final design was actually a sketch I drew on a napkin during a late team dinner. The design concept came from stag beetles that I’ve loved since I was a kid.
Kayano-san started working on the first KAYANO design at ASICS Institute of Sports Science in Kobe in 1992.
In 1993, the "KAYANO Trainer" was launched. As the name suggests, the shoe was designed mainly for training and for runners who enjoy jogging. The feet constantly move horizontally during training, so I used plastic for the stripe on the upper to support the heel, much like the shell of a stag beetle.
Kayano-san reveals his design concept on the stripe and shoe bottom, inspired by his favourite stag beetle.
Q: What’s GEL-KAYANO to you?
Kayano-san: GEL-KAYANO is one of the many shoes I designed at ASICS, but it is an important turning point in my life. Because of my involvement with GEL-KAYANO, I got married and moved to the States for 4.5 years. The success of the shoe came with huge responsibility which led me to understand what it means to make a product that is truly great.
A day to remember – first day of work at ASICS America office as GEL-KAYANO designer.
Q: In your opinion, why has GEL-KAYANO become such an iconic product for runners?
Kayano-san: I believe it’s because we never stop innovating in the design, functionality and technology of GEL-KAYANO. Over the years, and for each version, the bar is raised higher and higher. A lot of thought is put into the shoe in order to meet the high expectations from runners. In a way, I believe ASICS holds the future in running technology and I always remind younger designers about this responsibility.
Ando-san: In every version we apply the latest and best technology to give runners a better running experience. But we never gave up the two main benefits – support and stability. I think the fact that GEL-KAYANO is in its 20th year, actually more than 20 years now, has earned a great reputation amongst runners and we are seeing a wider range of KAYANO fans now.
Q: What’s the inspiration behind GEL-KAYANO 20?
Ando-san: My inspiration came from "Globe Trotting" – a continuous and contemporary style of travel. I searched for images and imagined running in those elegant landscapes without stopping, enjoying every moment of fulfillment and joy as I run. I wanted to provide this kind of experience to all runners. I wanted to design a GEL-KAYANO that turns long distance running into an enjoyable experience.
Q: What’s the future of GEL-KAYANO?
Ando-san: We will continue to maintain the high stability and support of the shoe, but I think we have more to offer. Because the entire body is in motion when you run, I want to create a new KAYANO that connects with other wearable items such as socks, or tights. Not only to offer support to the feet, but also the knees, thighs and other parts of the body.