New Onitsuka Tiger Store Epitomizes Asics’ Fashion Strategy

Photo by Akira Miura
The new Onitsuka Tiger building, center, which opened on Aug. 4, is seen between Versace and Bottega Veneta shops in Ginza, Tokyo.

Sports fashion brand Onitsuka Tiger recently opened a new outlet which features one of its brand lines, “Yellow Collection,” in Ginza, Tokyo.

The store, located near the well-known Ginza 4-Chome crossing, opened Aug. 4 and is colored the brand’s iconic “tiger yellow” color.

Onitsuka Tiger operates under sportswear powerhouse Asics Corp.

Italian designer Andrea Pompilio — the brand’s creative director — helped design the new store.

While some may consider yellow to be a peculiar color choice to decorate the exterior of a fashion brand store, the outlet’s stucco walls resonate with different shades depending on the viewer’s perspective.

Courtesy of Marketing Dept, Onitsuka Tiger, Asics Japan
An interior view of the first floor of the new Onitsuka Tiger building in Ginza, Tokyo

The collection pivots around men’s and women’s wear initially unveiled at Milan Fashion Week in February. The outfits are functional without being overly sporty, and retain a high-end feel.

The collection’s Onitsuka Tiger logo features simple black lettering on a tiger-yellow background that stands apart from the brand’s regular logo.

Shoes, too, play a pivotal part in the collection, including the brand’s DENTIGRE PUFF and RUNGER sneakers, which feature stylish, thick-soled designs that attract Onitsuka Tiger fans.

Multiple stores

The Onitsuka Tiger brand has two other stores in Ginza: the flagship store, Onitsuka Tiger Ginza, on Ginza Chuo-dori avenue; and an annex building that opened in May, which centers around the brand’s “Nippon Made” offerings.

Ginza boasts four other Asics-operated stores: Asics Tokyo Ginza; Asics Walking Ginza Inz; Asics Runwalk Ginza; and Asics Kids Ginza.

Asics Corp., which operates out of Kobe, defines Onitsuka Tiger — named after company founder, Kihachiro Onitsuka — as a sports fashion brand, and Asics as a sports performance brand.

In 2013, Onitsuka Tiger made its debut at Pitti Immagine Uomo in Italy, one of the world’s largest men’s wear trade exhibitions. Thereafter, the brand held regular runway shows at Tokyo Fashion Week, and in February 2021, participated for the first time in Milan Fashion Week via an online stream. The brand subsequently unveiled its new collection in Milan — in situ.

Courtesy of Marketing Dept, Onitsuka Tiger, Asics Japan
A model walks in Onitsuka Tiger attire at the brand’s 2023 autumn/winter show during Milan Fashion Week in Februray.

Asics Corp. achieved its best-ever financial results in the business year that ended in December 2022, logging annual sales of ¥484.6 billion — up 19.9% from the previous business year — and registering a 54.9% rise in operating profit at ¥34 billion.

Regarding sales turnover, ¥123.4 billion originated in Japan, meaning overseas turnover was around 75%.

The Asics and Onitsuka Tiger brands are likely more popular overseas than they are domestically. The company’s decision to establish multiple stores in Ginza was likely inspired by the large numbers of foreign tourists who visit the popular shopping district.

Asics Corp., which was founded in 1949 as Onitsuka Shokai, has great financial potential. In August, the company’s stock price increased to a record-high over ¥5,000. Personally, I would not be surprised if this figure exceeded ¥10,000 in the near future.

Nike connection

Phil Knight — chairman emeritus of Nike, Inc. who cofounded the company in 1971 — encountered Onitsuka Tiger running shoes when he visited Japan in the early 1960s.

Impressed with their high quality, Knight established a company to import and sell the shoes in the United States. It is widely known that Knight established Nike after learning about the sports shoes business through his Japanese shoe-sales experiences. The rest is history for Nike, now the world’s largest sports gear company with a full year reported revenue of $51.2 billion as of the end of May.

Onitsuka Tiger marked sales of ¥43 billion in the business year that ended in December 2022 — accounting for less than 10% of Asics Corp.’s total sales.

The brand continues to grow in popularity overseas. Its “sports fashion” approach is likely its most promising expedient amid a slumping apparel market in developed countries.

Meanwhile, foreign tourists are reportedly flocking to the new yellow-bedecked Onitsuka Tiger store in Ginza.

Akira Miura

Miura is a journalist and a former editor in chief of WWD Japan.