Retrospective | K-Swiss Ariake
Welcome to our new blog “Retrospective” our goal for this series is to revive the ghosts of freerunning fashion. We aim to review the good, the bad and the ugly of monumental garments which permeated the parkour culture, we weill taking a look at parkour clothing and the pitfalls and success of the industry.
We decided to kick off with the K-Swiss Ariake, released back in 2007 it was one of the first shoes designed specifically as parkour gear. The name “Ariake” originates from a famous spot in Tokyo, Japan. I was unable to find images of the location but theorised that the interwoven geometric pattern on the side of the shoe may be a representation of the spots architecture. However @yung_rusty_highroller informed me it stands for “Over, under, through.” a myriad of movement related concepts.
Early on K-Swiss gained endorsement from Sebastian Foucan, he featured in a pretty snazzy advert vaulting & flipping over giant letters spelling out his name.
To their credit K-Swiss didn’t just use stardom to promote the crepes, they actually sent free pairs out to communities for testing and reviews. This gave them a more organic online buzz and street credibility.
Photo credit: Joe Mclean, 2007
They even sponsored a jam in London, providing Ariake t-shirts, wrist bands, water bottles & carabiners for attendees. Personally I really liked the graphics on the tee and managed to salvage my decade old one for the shoot!
As a teenager, I convinced my parents to buy me a pair when we saw them in a local branch of Schuh at the time it struck me as so cool that parkour gear had made it’s way into the high street.
Equipped with my new pk crepes I had high hopes for my ability to sky rocket straight up to Foucan levels and I suppose this might’ve have had a brief placebo effect on my training attitude but the solid build and generous amount of padding probably encouraged me to take drops I wasn’t ready for.
Also despite there being plenty of rubber left intact, the useable grip wore away very quickly and the mesh on the toe frayed slightly ruining the aesthetic.
Overall the shoe was a nice attempt for a big company to dip their toes in the unexplored waters of the parkour clothing market. It was close but no cigar! Years later they would accidentally find much more success in the community through a discontinued tennis grand slam shoe, their "Si-18" which I feel deserves an article of it's own.
So thanks for reading, I hope you have enjoyed the first in this series. If you have any suggestions for products you would like to see featured email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or tag us @normlbrand on Instagram!
Until next time folks!