This isn’t the first time Helen Kirkum and ASICS have come together with charitable intentions. I don’t imagine it will be the last, either. For the London-based designer and Japanese sportswear brand, the collaborative reworks continue to pay dividends: ticking both boxes in the “looking good” and “doing good” categories; deftly managing a feat that’s far too rarely pulled off with quite so much success or quite so much thoughtfulness when it comes to either design or intention.
This time, though, there’s a third party added to the equation for a little extra philanthropic power: the sneaker retailer Footpatrol, stepping up as it celebrates 20 years of open doors. And, together, the heavyweight footwear triumvirate is focusing their attention on YoungMinds UK – the UK’s leading charity youth-focused mental health charity – with an exclusive and extremely limited set of reworked ASICS classics including the GEL-LYTE III and GEL-NIMBUS.
So limited, in fact, that I’m duty-bound here to tell you that all 20 pieces have already found a home via Footpatrol raffle. (Which, of course, we won’t begrudge them: this is for charity, after all, and the money raised from those sales is going to a good place – even if the sneakers themselves aren’t winging their way to the place you’d personally like them to be.)
Still, given the work that’s gone into these dual-branded footwear offerings, we’d be remiss not to bring these pairs to your attention: the deconstructed, hand-finished craftsmanship which Kirkum brings to the ASICS canvas – cut-out logos, twisted materials, textural layering – is a love letter to the form, to the idea of sneakers themselves as a work of art, and to the peculiar magic of working with what’s already in front of you versus the churn of under-thought overproduction. Which, of course, is a sentiment we can get behind.
This is a masterclass in philanthropy with flair, and as long as that recipe continues to work, I suspect that Kirkum and ASICS will continue to dish these up to hungry sneakerheads with a passion for something a little off the beaten track. And, as long as they retain their charitable ambitions, that can only yield positive results.
For more information on the good work being undertaken by YoungMinds, you can visit the charity’s official website. And, if you’re interested in hearing more from Helen Kirkum – including her vision for a possible sneaker utopia – the waste-averse designer happens to make an appearance on our Progress Over Perfection podcast.