Vancouver's Reigning Champ is making a strong foray into the footwear market with a new sneaker collaboration alongside Japanese marque ASICS. While sister brand wings + horns has collaborated with names like New Balance and adidas to supplement the label's in-line footwear offerings, this new partnership with ASICS marks Reigning Champ's second-ever footwear collaboration, following up on a partnership with Converse First String in 2012.

Known for its ultra-cozy knitted fabrics and beloved Canadian-made fleece, the brand will be releasing three variations of the GEL-Lyte III, all tooled with signature Reigning Champ details.

The footwear component will also be accompanied by a collection of co-branded athletic apparel, including a short sleeve T-shirt, longsleeve crewneck, full-zip hoodie, bomber and shorts, all of which are handcrafted in Canada.

We spoke with Reigning Champ's marketing director Doug Barber to find out more about the project.

How is Reigning Champ's brand identity captured with this ASICS collaboration?

The color story for the project is black, navy and heather grey. These three colors speak to Reigning Champ’s core color palette. All apparel styles are constructed using Reigning Champ signature fabrics from our core program (Midweight Terry and Ringspun Jersey). Signature details such as flatlock seams, reinforced bar tacks, custom Reigning Champ two-way zippers and our signature zig-zag stitch are all included in each garment

Our signature Midweight Terry is also used on each piece of footwear.

Let's talk about the apparel component of the collaboration.

Reigning Champ’s focus has always been on premium athleticwear. For ASICS we wanted to produce something that was elevated and spoke to our core competency as fleece specialists.

Why the GEL-Lyte III?

We’ve been fans of the GEL-Lyte III for years. We’ve always loved the signature split-tongue construction (which is a detail we also worked into the apparel). The shoes are incredibly comfortable but simple at the same time.

How many samples did you go through?

We went through several samples on both sides (apparel and footwear). I can’t remember the exact number but there was quite a bit of back and fourth. A true collaboration in every sense.

Why is this an important collaboration for RC?

We focus on working with the leaders of each category. ASICS is at the forefront of athletic focused footwear and all-around an iconic brand. Working with them allows us to reach an audience we wouldn’t otherwise capture. We’re extremely happy to see this project come to fruition.

Any other collaborations we can look forward to this year?

We have footwear projects coming up with adidas and New Balance.

Watch for the footwear and apparel to drop on February 20 from Reigning Champ. Also, don't miss Reigning Champ's SS16 "Sea to Sky" collection.

  • Photographer:Chris Danforth /

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