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Packer Shoes x Asics Gel-Kayano Trainer: If You Build It, They Will Come

January 28, 2014by Aaron Kr.
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If you’ve been immersed in the sneaker world since 2004, you know that the last ten years may as well have been fifty in terms of the changes in the dynamics of the game. The sneaker culture has exploded from a guarded subculture to an all-welcoming mainstream affair and the whos, whats, and hows of sneaker consuming have all evolved drastically along the way. Trends, brands, and retailers have all come and gone, and although today’s landscape may appear quite different from a decade ago, there are a few institutions that have weathered all the storms and endured to stand the test of time.

Mike Packer will be the first to tell you that people thought he was crazy when he told them he was opening up a boutique sneaker shop in suburban Bergen County, New Jersey. Despite its stone’s throw proximity to New York City, Teaneck seemed like another universe from the Lower Manhattan scene that had become the epicenter for all things cool in the sneaker sphere. Why would anyone go all the way out to Jersey for shoes with the wealth of juicy options scattered within a few blocks of each other in the Big Apple?

Now ten years later, almost all of those revered Downtown spots are gone and Packer Shoes is still going strong. The thing that initial skeptics had underestimated was that the thirst for sneakers permeated far beyond its perceived urban demographic and

people from all over were trying to get their hands on the good stuff through eBay and other online channels. Packer planted their flag in unclaimed territory offering a brick and mortar alternative to the often unfriendly “too cool” vibe that you’d get in the City shops and it took no time at all for the word to spread and the store to thrive.

The customers were there from day one – from the local regulars to out-of-towners who would journey from far and wide. Especially before limited editions and quickstrikes were so widely available, people would travel from up and down the East Coast and even across international waters to visit the shop and get their hands on some hard to find gems. Now in celebration of their tenth year in Teaneck, Packer Shoes is paying tribute to all the loyal customers who have found their way to the store time after time with the “All Roads Lead to Teaneck” Asics Gel-Kayano Trainer.

Compared to the original Packer Shoes location opened in Yonkers in 1907 by Mike’s grandfather and his brother, the Teaneck store is still a baby, but nowadays, ten years in the sneaker retail business makes you the bona fide OG on the block. Packer will be celebrating their milestone anniversary with special projects and releases all year long, beginning with the Kayano and its appreciative nod back to the store’s faithful supporters. Continue on for more on the shoes and watch out for them hitting Packer Shoes in-store and online this Friday, January 31st.

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Because of its suburban location, most of Packer Shoes’ customers don’t just walk by and pop in. They get in their cars and go out of their way to make it their destination. The “All Roads Lead to Teaneck” tagline is not only a reference to all the different roads and paths taken by the store’s visitors, but also a more literal play on words to boot, as the shop sits positioned at the crossroads of

two major highways in the New Jersey Turnpike and State Route 4. The Packer Gel-Kayano Trainer is a visual representation of some of the common sights found on those roads so often traveled en route, brought to life through the shoe’s carefully chosen colors and material applications.

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As mentioned, the Packer Gel-Kayano is inspired by the roads and highways that lead to the store’s front door, and many of those visual cues were applied quite literally. The charcoal grey upper features a tonal speckling as a call out to the asphalt, while the midsole blocking captures the look of the road’s painted yellow

lines. The green border outlining the Asics stripes and the yellow tongue label are nods to the road signs found on every street and highway and the bright orange accents on the lining and midsole reference the ever-present safety cones and barricades, even going as far as to include cone-inspired striped lace tips.

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Originally introduced in 1993, the Asics Gel Kayano Trainer is a relatively new addition to the Asics retro rotation. It made its official return last year as part of a 20th anniversary two-pack, and now sees its first collaboration – a premium reworking of the construction from the shoe’s traditional make-up. Packer’s version features the neoprene ankle bootie and mesh windows of the

original, but replaces the majority of the upper materials with high grade pigskin which is micro-perfed on the toebox and speckled in other areas. The side panels and heels featured standard Kayano TPU with the final touches coming by way of reflective 3M hits on the silver and orange heel tab accents.

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This Gel-Kayano Trainer release not only serves as the first stop along the way of the Packer Shoes tenth anniversary celebration, but also marks the first collaborative project between Packer and Asics. The relationship between the two goes all the way back to the Yonkers store in the ’80s and now finally commemorates all those years working together in tangible form with a special edition sneaker release.

The Packer Shoes “All Roads Lead to Teaneck” Asics Gel Kayano will hit the Teaneck store as well as the Packer e-shop this Friday, January 31st at 12 noon EST, so get your routes all mapped out. From the looks of that teaser shot they gave at the end of their video, it appears there will be more to come from Packer and Asics in 2014, so make sure to stay tuned to Sneaker News for all the latest developments.

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