Sneakers
From the ground up
Highsnobiety / Mario Stumpf
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Highsnobiety / Mario Stumpf
Highsnobiety / Mario Stumpf
Highsnobiety / Mario Stumpf
Highsnobiety / Mario Stumpf
Highsnobiety / Mario Stumpf
Highsnobiety / Mario Stumpf

In 2008, German sneaker retailer Solebox worked with ASICS on a color-changing GEL-Lyte III, with photochromic paint on the shoe’s midsole that turned purple when exposed to UV light. A production run of 250 pairs made the collab a collectible and sought-after item.

Now, Japanese sneaker boutique atmos has joined Solebox for a reprisal the collaboration, with a new camo GEL-Lyte III design. The shoe’s mixed-gray upper is a nod to the concrete jungles of Tokyo and Berlin: the homes of atmos and Solebox, respectively.

Different parts of the shoe turn a shade of purple when exposed to UV light, including the trim of the signature ASICS tiger stripe, branding on the heel, and two windows on the toe box. The sneaker pack is completed by a gray tiger camouflage tracksuit, as well as 100% and 400% Medicom Toy [email protected]

We sat down with atmos creative director Koji and Solebox general manager Aljoscha Kondratiew at the shoe’s Berlin launch to find out more about how they met and how the collaboration came about.

As Kondratiew explains to Highsnobiety, “It was a little bit quiet around the GEL-Lyte III silhouette, but with [All Gone founder] Michael [Dupouy] re-releasing the La MJC version 10 years after the original release, it seemed like the perfect time to continue the story we started with ASICS 10 years ago. ASICS as a Japanese brand, atmos as one of the most credible retailers from Japan, my first trip to Japan meeting the people behind both brands — it just all made sense.”

Read more from Koji and Kondratiew below.

On the Solebox x atmos x ASICS GEL-Lyte III

Koji, atmos: In my opinion, tiger camo is the best camouflage. It’s super-beautiful. The Solebox team had the idea to add these purple UV details.

Kondratiew, Solebox: We brought the purple UV details, atmos brought the camouflage, and we both decided to make it gray because that’s what really connects us from a city perspective — the idea of a concrete jungle, cities, skyscrapers.

On traveling

Koji: I usually travel in Asia and to the USA. This is my first time visiting Germany and Europe. We tried German schnitzel yesterday — I liked it. The most interesting thing in Berlin is the art. There are many graphic artists here. In Japan, there is nothing because it is illegal.

I would like to travel to Paris and London, too. I don’t know the European market that well, but I see a lot of differences from the Asian market. I think Europeans like the GEL-Lyte III or GEL-Lyte V, but in Japan, for example, the GEL-Mai is the most popular.

Kondratiew: When we’re in Japan, we see each other at events, we have chats, we have coffee. The first time in my life going to Harajuku was with the atmos guys, so I really experienced it first-hand with the guys that live there. That is something that I’ll never forget in my whole life and makes this very special for us. We’re super-proud and honored to work with atmos on this project.

On collaborating

Koji: It’s a good collaboration. It’s my pleasure to work with Solebox. We want to make European sneakerheads more aware of atmos.

Kondratiew: For me, atmos was always a very creditable retailer and brand from Japan, so it was an honor for me to meet the people behind their world-famous designs. [to Koji] It was just a key moment in my career in this industry to cross paths with you guys, to actually meet and grow a project like this. You guys have always been one of the top retailers in Japan and an influence for the rest of the world.

On the robot arm in Solebox Berlin

Koji: We heard about Solebox’s robot arm. We have lots of robots in Japan. Maybe next year taxis with no driver for the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo — I’m scared.

Kondratiew: Actually, the funny thing is when we met the president of ASICS Japan, that’s actually the guy who introduced us. He was in Berlin for a meeting, and when we got introduced, he was like, “Solebox, you guys have the robot in the store, right?”

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

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