ASICS Tiger™ GEL turns 30 this year. Originally created as the ultimate cushioning for runners, during its three-decade history, the technology has been used in sneakers that have propelled competitors to victory, made a fashion statement on the street, and been a staple on the shelves of shoe boutiques. To commemorate what GEL tech witnessed during its early life, HYPEBEAST takes a look at some important pop culture milestones of the 1980s and ’90s. Read through the cultural moments and how they fit into the GEL timeline below. To find out more about 30 years of GEL, as well as shop the present day silhouettes head here.
1986 was the year that GEL first made an appearance on an ASICS sneaker, but it was also the year that the world got an official launch of the Nintendo Entertainment System. Following the introduction of Famicom in Japan a few years earlier, and a test run of the console in 1985, children worldwide were treated to the global launch of the NES in 1986. From that moment on, parents would forever question why their kids no longer wanted to play outside.
Perhaps the most recognizable ASICS sneaker in the HYPEBEAST world is the GEL-Lyte III. Following the introduction of the OG GEL-Lyte in 1987, the 1990 update was as appealing to fashion connoisseurs at the time (who were interested in its near-pinnacle performance paired with an accessible appearance) as it is to sneakerheads today. While fashion pioneers were trying out the new GEL on-feet, tech pioneers were putting together the building blocks of modern computing. Microsoft released Windows 3.0, which for the first time, included time-wasting programs like Solitaire — the bane of office managers around the world for years to come.
Though there was no official GEL-Lyte IV, the GEL-Lyte Ultra was the de facto successor to the line. The GT-Cool Xpress also appeared in 1992 — offering an even greater emphasis on shock absorption than ASICS’s previous sneakers. That year, Nirvana was teaching the world about the grunge movement. A performance of “Lithium” and a feud with Axl Rose on the MTV VMAs brought the group’s rebellious mentality to television sets around the USA. Although it’s look was inspiring trends at the time, little did Nirvana know, that its sense of fashion, with plaid shirts and ripped jeans, would become the muse of a whole new fashion movement some 20 years later.
In 1993, ASICS dropped the GEL-Lyte V following the success of its predecessors. The style would become another brick in the foundation of ASICS’s entry into the world of boutique sneakers. At the same time that one of the forefathers of ASICS hype was launching, the world witnessed some of the most exciting and controversial moments ever in the rap industry. In 1992, Dr. Dre dropped The Chronic; in 1993, Snoop Dogg released Doggystyle; and, The Notorious B.I.G.’s “Ready to Die” hit shelves the year after. The East vs. West Coast feud that took place in the following years is the stuff of hip-hop legend.
1993 also marked the introduction of the new ASICS flagship running sneaker — the GEL-Kayano. The Kayano, which is still around today, remains a staple for athletes worldwide. 23 years ago, while long-distance runners were being treated to the next level of shock absorption and stability, the dinosaur blockbuster Jurassic Park was shaking up audiences with its revolutionary use of computer-generated imagery. The film would go on to beat E.T as the world’s highest grossing movie at the time.