With the continued popularity of retro silhouettes, the ASICS Gel-Lyte V has been enjoying a steady period of re-imagination from the Japanese brand. Different colourways and collaborations are still coming out all the time, and before diving any deeper it’s pertinent to take a trip down memory lane to see how the line started.
Nike kicked off Air in 1979, although it didn’t truly blow up until 1987 when the first Air Max launched. Around this same time, ASICS was trying out kinds of cushioning before breaking through with silicone-based gel — similar technology had already been applied to other industries, but never before in the realm footwear. The company found injecting the gel into the EVA midsole of a shoe proved to turn forces generated during heel impact into energy, thus helping propel a runner forward.
In terms of being a game changer, the GEL-Lyte model is the Air Max equivalent for ASICS. Both premiered at the same time, the former being touted in magazine ads as being featherweight and performance enhancing. An instant hit with consumers, it didn’t hurt that the sneaker looked fantastic featuring a mostly white upper and contrasting coloured panelling.
I’ll leave the specifics of the follow-up GEL-Lyte II, III and Ultra for another post. The V debuted in 1993, offering a design quite unlike anything else available at the time. Sock-like fit shoes are now ubiquitous, but back then, the attached tongue provided a slip-in comfort people take for granted today. While the OG pairs had mesh panelling on the toe box a few other areas, the “Oreo” Vs being talked about today dropped three summers ago in an all-leather construction.
As the name suggests, the entire upper is black and white, with the ASICS logo finished in a reverse shadow overlay style. The speckled cookie crumble midsole looks good enough to eat, and for an added bit of flair “cocoa” appears to be dripping down part of the rear quarter section.
After seeing that a few people mentioned the V fits tight, I purchased a half size larger than usual. While fitting fairly comfortable on foot, my heel slips when walking, probably due to the absence of a traditional tongue and because the lining is made from a slipper material. Cinching the laces tighter is one solution. Personally, I’d recommend staying true to size unless you have wide feet. The robust leather build make this a great choice for the fall and winter, and the monochrome colourway matches most outfits and as a bonus isn’t as prone to showing dirt.
Originally listed at $120 USD, the ASICS GEL-Lyte V “Oreo” can still be picked up in select sizes at resellers like StockX under retail.