Asics Kayano and Kaizen

Asics Kayano and Kaizen

The Asics Kayano 14 Legend is one of the most cherished and widely used shoes in the world. It has been used for multiple Olympics, including the 2000 Sydney Olympic Games. The shoe is said to be the top performer for long-distance running, and it is the most popular shoe for half marathoners. The Kayano has been through many design iterations since its release in 1987. It has gone from a minimalistic design to an extremely cushioned one with a lot of technology and innovation packed into the sneaker.

Asics Kayano 5

The Kayano 14 Legend was created by Yoshiyasu Ando and Toshikazu Kayano. They are both Japanese designers who worked hard to win the Tokyo Olympic bid so that they could showcase their newly developed sneaker. After the work on their own shoe, they began to design various other models in order to create a more competitive lines of shoes. The legend that is the Kayano 14 was first released in 1998 and is still being made today. The shoe's newest incarnation was released in 2012, and there are many other new pairs on the market today as well. This shows how popular this particular shoe has been over time, and why it is still very big among runners and athletes today.

Asics Kayano 14 Piedmont Gray

The Asics Kayano 14 Legend is a shoe that I personally own in the Piedmont Gray color-way. You may ask, "Why?" It is because it is the pinnacle of running shoes. It has been on the market for over 30 years and has had thousands of iterations. The Kayano line has taken a focus on the transition phase of running, and this shoe focuses on how it feels to push off. It has been designed by people who actually run. The result is a shoe that I can wear daily without any pain or discomfort whatsoever. When I run in this shoe, I feel like I could go forever. It is as if it were made specifically for me—as if it were made for anyone who needs comfort and support.

The Asics Kayano 14’s are the most comfortable running shoes I have ever worn. They have been my go-to shoe ever since I first got them, and I have never had a single complaint about them. Everything about them is worked out to make you feel like you’re walking on air. The soles of the shoes are made with “Mana-tech” which is a cushioning system that activates when you apply pressure, so that your foot receives the maximum amount of support and comfort. There is also a gel cushion in the heel that ensures that your foot is always supported—no matter what.

The shoe has a full-length sock liner with memory foam in it, so my feet can breathe and not be constricted at all. The mesh top allows for ventilation so my feet don’t get hot, even if I’m running or shuffling around my house for extended periods of time. The toe box is wide enough to fit my toes comfortably but narrow enough to feel as though they aren’t flapping around while I’m walking or running. It also has a nice arch support to help prevent pronation and joint flexibility, which is something I have struggled with in the past. All of these features make me feel like my broken knees can actually run and play once more, even in my ripe old age of twenty two.

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After the Second World War, Japan was in a state of extreme poverty. Fast forward to the 1980s, after America had stepped in to democratize and further westernize the Pacific island country, the Japanese economy began to prosper at all time historical highs. Japanese workers and companies have become globally renowned for their meticulous craftsmanship and engeneuity. Why continue trying to improve a shoe that was already used by olympic athletes? What was the driving force behind this unbelievable transition? Kaizen.

Kaizen is a word that means gradual improvement and it's central to Japanese business philosophy. When utilized properly, Kaizen can ignite companies to be driven by "What could we do better?" rather than "We're as good as our competitors". Used as "good change," or "gradual improvement" is a philosophy that guides not just my life but also that of the designers at Asics, who have been putting out novel, gradual aesthetic and technical improvements since 1974. It is a philosophy that guides through life as one looks for ways to become better without drastic change.

This philosophy has been used throughout the footwear and design industry and has allowed for strides in design and comfort to be made throughout the years. While his name may not ring out with fashion aficionados, Ando Bunji is a shoe designer who utilized this philosophy to revolutionize how running shoes are designed and manufactured. A designer at Kihachiro Onitsuka Co. Ltd., a company that would later become Asics, Ando Bunji developed what is considered to be today's modern running shoe with his first creation called the GT-2000 in 1965. He continued designing iconic shoes at Asics that are still being released today like the: Gel-Kayano, Gel-Foundation, GEL-Noosa and many more.

In this context, Asics created the Kayano as an improvement upon its predecessor, the GT-II, with some slight changes to the upper materials and a redesign of the sole unit. Although Kaizen is a capitalistic venture based on aesthetics, it did result in an amazing product with the Kayano 14. Not only did the improvements come at the betterment of the human experience, the shoes continue to include and improve upon bio-based, natural materials for their shoe production. Asics even states on their website that they are committed to community engagement and fair labor practices. Their factories all have passed level C working conditions.


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