Dimitri Calligeros and the Above the Clouds x ASICS GT-2160 for Hypebeast's Sole Mates

The Above the Clouds founder speaks on his longstanding affection for “vintage tech” and translucent designs, discusses his store’s collaborative ethos and more.

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Sneaker collaborations may feel like a dime a dozen these days, but when your favorite local sneaker store gets involved they still hit hard — like the ASICS GT-2160 that Sydney-based retailer Above The Clouds recently cooked up. With tech-skewed sneakers continuing to enjoy vast popularity, a collaboration on ASICS’ major lifestyle silhouette for the year was a huge opportunity for ATC founder Dimitri Calligeros to deliver a standout product. Not shy when it came to taking curation up a notch, Calligeros dug deep to deliver a collab that seamlessly combines traditional and contemporary elements of Japanese architecture and product design.

Calligeros founded Above The Clouds in 2010, and over the years the store has solidified itself as one of Sydney’s go-to retail destinations. Situated within the city’s picturesque Surry Hills neighborhood, ATC is proud to boast a global curation of over 90 brands, but naturally, Calligeros’ love for ASICS predates the store’s conception, going all the way back to the GEL-LYTE V. Therefore, it feels like a full-circle moment that his store’s GT-2160 has been so well received by the global community — and that the collaboration has further added to Above The Clouds’ ongoing relationship with ASICS, the first major brand to open an account with the store. “It started everything,” he says of ASICS’ taking a chance on his then-fledgling business

Transparency, both literal and figurative, has always been a part of the Above The Clouds philosophy, and it plays a fundamental role in the material choices of their latest ASICS collaboration. In this installment of Sole Mates, Hypebeast spoke to Calligeros about what excited him the most while collaborating on the ASICS GT-2160, the red thread that ties together Above The Clouds x ASICS collaborations and more.

What got you into sneakers?

My older brother got me into sneakers early. He’s four years older, and he and his friends were always into it. As a young kid, you follow what your older siblings are doing.

What’s your relationship with ASICS? How far back does it go?

I feel like all Australian kids wear ASICS for school sports, and I was no different. Later down the track, when I opened Above The Clouds in 2010, ASICS was the first major footwear company to believe in my vision and open our account. I’ll never forget that. It started everything.

Do you have a favorite pair of ASICS from the early days?

My love of ASICS definitely started with the Gel-Lyte V OG in the white and purple colorway! I still love that shoe.

How does it feel to have ASICS as a constant in your life to this day?

Obviously my relationship with ASICS now is as strong as ever, the Australian team in particular is very supportive. The way that ASICS runs its business globally is amazing. They are patient and just know how get the brand mix, distribution and direction right.

The GT-2160 joins Above The Clouds’ GEL-1090 and SKYCOURT collaborations on the mantle. Is there a red thread that ties Above The Clouds’ ASICS collaborations together, visually or otherwise?

The GEL-1090 and the SKYCOURT were connected. When first designing the GEL-1090, we found this old running man graphic in the ASICS archive and used it to decorate our custom boxes. Otherwise, we really focused on heritage sportswear styles with a muted color treatment for both that and the SKYCOURT. However, the GT-2160 was a fresh idea with no connection to the previous two and the start of a new direction for us with ASICS.

“The vintage tech era of ASICS is something that resonates with me personally.”

The GT-2160 has made a grand return in 2023. What excited you the most about working on the silhouette given it’s been such a focus for ASICS again this year?

The vintage tech era of ASICS is something that resonates with me personally. I have worn ASICS with this aesthetic for years and when the opportunity arose to work on this model, it just felt perfect. Before designing the GT-2160, I actually thrifted a pair of old GEL-1160s from this old guy in Sydney who had a massive collection of vintage performance ASICS. I fell in love with the textured overlays, vintage mesh and metallic hits throughout.

Speaking of metallic hits, the campaign takes viewers on an artistic visual journey of the collaboration’s construction. How did that aid you in telling the story of the Above The Clouds x ASICS GT-2160?

When my business partner JP and I sat down to start working on the GT-2160, we were told by ASICS that its design was inspired by Gran Turismo. ASICS wanted to design this shoe with speed, sleekness and efficiency in mind, just like the cars. It inspired us to look deeper into Japanese design and the attention to detail the Japanese display when designing cars, furniture and art as well as footwear. It was important to us to show the consumer the journey of how we brought this design to life.

“[ASICS] appeals to a wide array of consumers, especially those who have an interest in art, fashion and design, not just sneaker culture.”

The finished product blurs the lines of art, fashion and design. Why was this important?

It does, and that’s a testament to where we see ASICS in the current climate of fashion. It appeals to a wide array of consumers, especially those who are ahead of the game and have an interest in art, fashion and design, not just sneaker culture. Previously, high-heat collaborations were solely consumed by “sneakerheads,” however, we are seeing an appetite for limited releases from consumers who are much more involved in high-end fashion and blending the two worlds. I think ASICS has a lot to do with this trend. This can be seen with whom ASICS are partnering with, such as Cecilie Bahnsen and Kiko Kostadinov. The brand is on the feet of the right consumers globally.

The uppers feature ASICS’ iconic translucent NEXKIN textile. Why was transparency a key theme of the collaboration?

I’ve always been interested in transparent designs — they reveal so much about how a product was made and what lies beneath. The Tiger Stripe on the GEL-1090 was see-through, and we have transparent elements in our physical store design, including our footwear wall. The combination of NEXKIN with the open mesh celebrated the full array of what ASICS is capable of.

The Above The Clouds x GT-2160 is arguably one of the most curated takes on the GT-2160 in 2023. What contribution are you hoping the collaboration brings to the sneaker world?

It’s been such a proud moment for myself and the Above The Clouds team to see how successful this collaboration was, and the positive response from the fashion community and consumers worldwide. In terms of contribution to the sneaker world, we don’t think about that too much. We’re just looking towards the future to make more nice shoes.

Why are sneakers important to you?

Besides the fact that I wear sneakers almost every day, I think it’s just the general feeling that sneakers give you particularly when wearing a new pair. That feeling sticks with me every day. I’ve been blessed to have a fair few pairs in my life doing what I do, and it still really excites me to wear a new pair.

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