Highsnobiety / Chris Danforth

The family tree of New York City skate brand and streetwear mainstay Supreme has seeded numerous independent clothing labels, not limited to Jason Dill’s Fucking Awesome, Brendon Babenzian’s Noah, and more recently, Awake NY, the brainchild of former Supreme brand director Angelo Baque.

Awake NY gained early momentum thanks to its script logo-adorned hoodies and caps, but the brand swiftly moved on to more complex cut-and-sew pieces, and Awake NY’s  first footwear collaboration with ASICS.

“ASICS was never really in the landscape of Queens. The first time I really took notice of ASICS was when I first started coming to Paris a little over 10 years ago, and I would see the North African, West African kids in the street just rocking really cool Lacoste tracksuits with bootleg Gucci bucket hats and a side bag and a pair of ASICS on their feet,” Baque explains with a subtly nasal but melodic New York City accent. “For me, it just elevated ASICS. It made sense. It wasn’t Nike, it wasn’t adidas.”

Highsnobiety / Chris Danforth

Fittingly, Baque and I are in the French capital for the fashion week unveiling of ASICS and Awake NY’s two GEL-KAYANO 5 360 colorways. Sitting in on the interview as per Baque’s invitation is a friend from Paris, who remains largely silent but contributed thoughts to the process of designing the two colorways. “I tapped these guys to come and help me, from beginning to end, you know what I mean? I would throw in the photo to be like, “Yo, does this suck?” Thumbs up, like literally just like an Emoji thumbs up, thumbs down on that shit and keep it moving.”

The pack of two color schemes references New York (more specifically, Queens, obviously) and Paris, but perhaps most importantly, you don’t need to have the color stories explained to you in order to appreciate that the shoes look good on-foot. “The silver and the green is based on my experience going to Flushing Meadow Park as a kid. And the centerpiece of the park is a unisphere. So it’s this metal sculpture of the world and then it’s just around it it’s just the grass. And the black and the gold it’s straight Paris, you know. It’s intended for kids that throw on a track suit, they put those shoes on, but then it’s also, to me, how the Parisian nights look there. They’re like golden lit, I try to make sure that it was all considered when picking these colors and making it feel right.”

Earlier in the year, Baque released a trench coat with a graphic treatment showing the Taj Mahal, Great Wall of China, and New York City’s former World Trade Center. “All my projects are one degree of Queens or two degrees of New York City. I love being from New York, I love still living in the city.”

While five years ago, ASICS’ most visible models (at least among collectors and sneakerheads) were those from the GEL-Lyte series. More recently, tastes have shifted toward more obscure, technical ASICS runners like Kiko Kostadinov’s collaborative designs, or in-line silhouettes like the GEL-Quantum 360 and those from the Kayano series. Speaking on that shift, Baque notes “I think it’s smart and it feels refreshing. I love what Kiko does, you know. I couldn’t ask for a better sportswear brand to work with for my first shoe.”

Baque sums up the appeal of the Awake NY x ASICS partnership nicely by stating “I think what I really like about this collaboration is one, it’s unexpected I think that you said, Awake NY, ASICS, two companies that start with the letter “A,” the balance feels right. It makes sense why this whole kind of process working with them has been really harmonious.”

The collaboration doesn’t stop there, either. “It’s on for next year. We got number two coming up,” he confirms.

The Awake NY x ASICS GEL-KAYANO 5 360 pack drops globally on July 12 at the following retailers:

United States:
Union LA
DSMNY
DSMLA

Europe:
Dover Street Market
Footpatrol
Voo Store
Sneakernstuff
Wood Wood
The Broken Arm
Slam Jam
24 Kilates
Patta

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Vancouver-born, Berlin-based writer, photographer and editor with a steady hand on the keyboard.

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