ASICS is a relative monster in the athletic shoe business here on Spaceship Earth. $3.6 billion in worldwide sales sounds like a lot, but that’s where the word relative comes in to play.
Nike, at $28 billion and adidas, at $24 billion, dwarf ASICS, and from a profit standpoint, ASICS has been trending in the wrong direction since 2014. Stock prices, which stood at over $30/share in 2015, bottomed out at just over $10 this past summer, but have crept up to over $16 as of today.
There’s a lot going on with ASICS, and finding new partners and breaking into new markets is part of any good business recovery strategy. Therefore, it should not be all that surprising to learn ASICS is teaming up with another Japanese owned conglomerate – Srixon/Cleveland/XXIO – to bring its golf shoes to North America.
Need, Meet Opportunity
ASICS has been making golf shoes since 1955 but has never tapped into that market in North America. Srixon’s brands have – according to corporate financial reports – been exceeding sales expectations in North America in recent years, despite a lack of presence in soft goods. Both sides hear Mr. Opportunity knocking.
“Our longstanding relationship with ASICS in Japan has created a unique opportunity,” Ryan Polanco, Srixon’s North American Marketing Manager, tells MyGolfSpy. “The quality and principles ASICS stands for closely align with our brand and company philosophies.”
Specifically, Srixon is bringing two ASICS golf shoes to North America: a laced, spikeless model called the GEL-COURSE Glide, and a spiked model called the GEL-COURSE Duo BOA which, as the name suggests, features the BOA lacing system. Srixon is hoping if you love your ASICS for cross-training, you’ll love them for golf, too
“ASICS brand loyalists have the highest demand for quality and performance,” says Polanco. “We have great confidence this brand, and these shoes will succeed because of the appeal to both sports enthusiasts and golfers.”
ASICS’ roots in Japan go back to 1949. Over the decades, the company has made footwear for any kind of athletic endeavor you can think of: basketball, running, track and field, mountaineering, volleyball, soccer, and even ski-jumping. The ASICS corporation as we know it was established in 1977, as three companies merged into the conglomerate it is today.
And if you’re wondering, the name ASICS is a Latin acronym: Anima Sana In Corpore Sano, which means Pray for a healthy mind in a healthy body.
“ASICS is a huge global sports brand and is widely recognized as the leader in performance footwear,” says Polanco. “Their history of quality, performance, and innovation fit perfectly with how we’ve aligned ourselves as a golf company and how we develop product.”
The new ASICS golf shoes introduced today feature GEL in their monikers, as do ASICS shoes for other sports. GEL is a shock absorption system developed by ASICS’ Research Institute of Sport Science, which houses the company’s extensive research and development efforts. GEL is a hallmark feature of the company’s running shoes. While you’re likely to encounter considerably less shock walking 18 holes than running 26 miles, GEL does supply a measure of cushion and comfort in the heel, as does the FlyteFoam cushioning in the insole.
Both golf shoes are very much in the style of ASICS’ running shoes, but the company says there’s plenty of golf-specific tooling, including toe and lateral wraps for balance and stability. A molded heel frame provides additional support during the golf swing.
Both the spiked and spikeless shoes are fairly lightweight and require no breaking-in. There’s also plenty of room in the toe area to provide a comfortable fit for slightly wider feet, with virtually no pinching. Both shoes feature what ASICS calls its FG traction sole pattern, again for greater stability.
Price and Availability
The GEL-COURSE Duo BOA – the spiked offering – will retail for $179.99, and will be offered in sizes 6 through 12, as well as size 13. They’ll be offered in three colorways: Black/Gunmetal, White/Peacoat, and Peacoat/Pure Silver.
The GEL-COURSE Glide spikeless models will sell for $129.99 in the same sizes for men, as well as in women’s sizes 6 through 12. The men’s offering will come in four colorways: Black/Silver, White/Polar Shade, Polar Shade/Black, and ASICS Blue/White. The women’s GEL-COURSE Glides will come in two options: Metropolis/White and Orchid/White.
As this is a new venture for Srixon, the company insists it will be taking a walk before you run approach.
“The product line will be concise to start and then expand over the next few years,” says Polanco. “Our partnerships with green grass, off-course, and key accounts through our family of brands have opened a lot of doors and shelf space. We’ll start with a smaller dealer base initially and grow from there.”
Rumors of a Srixon golf shoe started floating around almost a year ago, and this partnership makes more sense than an actual Srixon-branded product. ASICS is a well-established athletic brand in North America and has a long-standing partnership with Srixon in Asia. This gives ASICS an outlet for its golf shoes in the world’s largest golf market, although the question of whether the market needs another golf shoe is certainly open for discussion.
For Srixon/Cleveland/XXIO, there’s minimal downside, and it allows the brand to gain a little more shelf space on retail shelves. ASICS also offers athletic apparel, but it remains to be seen if Srixon takes that leap.
Srixon says the shoes will be available starting today at authorized golf shops and specialty retailers, as well as on the Srixon website.