Kengo Kuma and Asics have made a strong case for giving more sneaker collaborations to architects — and we don't mean Virgil Abloh.
The "Metaride AMU," designed by the renowned Japanese architect and originally released in 2019, is now coming back in a sandy color scheme that doubles down on its inspiration from bamboo weaving. An interlaced leather shell surrounding the knit upper is a nod to the traditional practice, and it's also reminiscent of Kuma's use of timber throughout many of his buildings.
Its sock-like fit is firmly modern, and yet the leather strips root the running sneaker in the past — almost like a gladiator sandal. This phrase is overused in sneakers, but Kuma's Metaride AMU really does look like a work of art.
It's got a sustainable angle, too — The Metaride is Asics' most technically advanced running sneaker, and Kuma's collaboration gives it a more sustainable element in addition to its crafted appearance. Recycled polyester is used for the knit that forms the base layer, and a cork insole is both complementary to the "Sahara Desert" treatment" and a more sustainable alternative to typical materials. Continuing Kuma's practice of blending architecture with nature is heel tape made from a new material derived from Japanese paper.
The sole is split into two distinct parts, separated by a couple of small inlets, with a tan midsole made from a wood-derived cellulose nanofiber and a white outsole that uses Asics' FlyteFoam. We could go into the details of FlyteFoam technology — but all you really need to know is that it's Asics' equivalent to all the other super cushy soles out there in the sneaker world.
Kuma chose the tonal and earthy colors because of a trip he once took to the Sahara desert as a graduate student. It's made a lasting impression on his work, including a trailer home he made in partnership with Snow Peak. "I always advise young students to travel to new places," Kuma told Singapore's Business Times. "In my case, the Sahara Desert gave me many hints about future architecture."
Stay tuned for a release — For now, Kuma's latest Asics Metaride AMU is only scheduled for release in Japan — but the original release did eventually make its way to the States. (If you wear a size 13 or 15, you can still get it here.)
If you can't wait it out, go ahead and enlist a proxy to get the kicks through Asics Japan when they release March 13. At ~$374, they're quite pricy — but we're talking a wearable work of art here.