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BAIT Founder Eric Cheng Talks About the ASICS Gel Saga "Phantom Lagoons"

Fusing a retro silhouette with fresh colors, luxurious materials, and a bevy of special details, the BAIT x ASICS Gel Saga “Phantom Lagoons” is the perfect follow-up to last summer’s collaborative “Olympic Rings” pack. Balancing hues of midnight navy, aqua green, and amethyst purple with sand-colored accents throughout, the SoCal take on the classic ASICS runner mixes a perforated nubuck upper with rich velvety suede overlays and sports a variety of additional touches: tonal, debossed logos hit both the heel and tongue, waxed rope laces provide an extra street-ready touch, and asymmetrical color-blocking from the lateral to the medial side make the kicks even more eye-catching from every angle. The shoe even sees all four of its colors blocked throughout the midsole – a departure from the tonal look that usually accompanies that of most Gel Saga drops. For even more on the release, be sure to catch the inside scoop from BAIT founder Eric Cheng below. The BAIT x ASICS Gel Saga “Phantom Lagoons” is set to launch Saturday, September 28 at 10 a.m. PDT for $129.99 USD at BAIT’s Diamond Bar flagship before hitting BAITme.com two hours later at 12 p.m. PDT.

Can you introduce yourself and what you do?

My name is Eric Cheng, CEO and one of the founders of BAIT. I am involved in all facets of the business including brand production, retail operations/expansions and working with the creative team on all our projects.

What’s the story behind this collaboration?

We have had the privilege of working with ASICS a year ago on the “Rings Pack” and were given the opportunity this year for more projects. This will be the first model to kick off our series. We worked very closely with ASICS and appreciate all the support and hard work they’ve given us. We are very excited about what is to come in the future.

How would you describe BAIT’s approach to footwear design?

It’s a pretty open process and there isn’t just one way for us to design. We like to keep a broad approach and stay open to possibilities in the beginning, and then funnel it down to what’s really appropriate for the model. We may want to create something obvious that hasn’t been executed, or we might want to try something completely new and out there. For the Gel Saga, we thought a color-up would be appropriate because of all the panels we are able to play with, and the model hasn’t been saturated with the pantone booklet. The goal was to put together a unique design and color combination specifically for the Gel Saga. We wanted to maximize its paneling, from the medial to the lateral, from the midsole to the tongue, and apply premium materials to it.

We understand that we’re one of the lucky few that get to work on footwear projects. So it’s also important that we return the trust from our brand partners by designing footwear that appeals to the market, yet at the same time can justify the “collaboration” opportunity.

Why did you guys settle on the “Phantom Lagoons” concept?

We’ll be honest with this story… We didn’t really want to draw inspiration from any existing places, persons, or things and then put it on a shoe. This time, we wanted to draw inspiration purely through the creative thought process of experimentation. So we created a fictional/mystical place that only exists in the mind to accredit that source of inspiration. The “Phantom Lagoon” was supposed to be that place that didn’t exist in the real world. We saw it kind of as the Bermuda Triangle of the brain, but a place where ideas lurk rather than disappear, and the shoe is our applied manifestation to it. It fit the design. We loved how it worked with the color combinations and how the blocking of the same palette of colors can double take the design into a completely different look.

But… with all that said, there’s actually a place in Canterbury, New Zealand called the Phantom Lagoon. We love the idea and the name so much we didn’t want to change it. But, in any case, we just want everyone to enjoy the shoe.

What are your thoughts on the current trends in footwear design?

On the mass market level, the retro trend is strong and isn’t going away anytime soon. On the collaboration level, everyone has a different approach and it’s been fun checking out all the ideas and designs introduced to the market.

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