Experimentation: The J. Crew Onitsuka Tiger

I’ll admit that sneakers weren’t always my thing.  At first, I looked down upon sneakers as a plebian shoe, only meant for people who couldn’t handle suits and dressy clothes.  Then I matured and learned through GQ and MFA that sneakers are actually very versatile and can work with a lot of different outfits.   My first real foray into the sneaker world was the Nike killshot.  For my second sneaker purchase, I went back to J. Crew and got their Onitsuka Tiger in navy blue suede.  At $50 bucks, it’s my new favourite sneaker.

The Product 

When I initially thought of ASICS (or sneakers in general) I thought of these:

Those shoes are ugly and have “dad” written all over them.  They look like they should be for exercising and only that.  It’s like the designer made them functional (I hope) and sacrificed a cool design.  That was before I started expanding my style.

Ever since the killshot, I’ve been looking for even more sneakers to incorporate into my wardrobe.   Most of the favored sneakers of the internet (like Common Projects) are popular for streetwear and casual style due to its very, very minimal design.  My killshots have enough colors (blue swoosh, yellow-ish gumsole) to make it a more vintage/preppy piece instead of a streetwear-chic shoe.   As as result, it works better with more americana outfits!    Even though the killshots weren’t completely white, I knew that I had to get a sneaker with more saturation.  With a darker overall color scheme and chunky sole and construction, the Tigers  (made by Asics) were the perfect choice to experiment with.

It’s important to note that these partcular sneakers were made when ASICS collaborated with J. Crew.  This resulted in a more classic and fashionable design that is a huge contrast to what is normally found in the ASICS section of a shoe store.  In fact, most J. Crew shoe collaborations look much better than the typical faire of these shoe companies. They have better colors and shape so you can work them into semi-dressy or full-casual outfits!

I was at the Santa Monica J. Crew store when they were having an “additional 50% off sale” and these shoes were $99.99, producing a final cost of $50!  They didn’t have a size 8 (only 8.5) so I had to order them.  The following pictures were taken after about a week of shipping.


My main inspiration for buying these sneakers really came from my pal Matt. They are definitely chunkier than my low-top killshots, which is a feature that I’m starting to appreciate.  It adds more visual weight to the bottom half of an outfit, as well as making you appear taller (something that my killshots do not do).  With rolled or cropped pants, its a great edition to my wardrobe!





The tongue is a bit thick.  You can definitely feel it when you are the shoe.


Soft insole!



The brand is everywhere.


The shoes fit very close to size with just a bit of room in the toe box, which may be due to my odd feet.  They’re very comfortable and very soft.  The higher opening placement is a bit higher than my dress shoes and loafers, which presents a small problem since my pants are hemmed to those specific shoes.  With jeans, I find that it’s best to just roll them up a bit higher!  Also, try to wear them with lowcut/no-show socks.  I find that this looks better with sneakers, especially if your pants are hemmed correctly. 

More info can be found on the official J. Crew website! 

Outfit 1:  Typical


This pairing was the first outfit I thought of when I bought the shoes. It’s like a summer version of this Jake Grantham outfit; in fact, my shoes are close to the colors of his Nike Racers! Instead of a heavy Harris Tweed jacket and denim shirt, I’m wearing a cotton DB jacket and and a linen shirt.  Both fabrics  (in these colors) are an absolute must for summer, as they go with both dark and and light pants!  As you can see, they pair wonderfully with the dark jeans and shoes. It’s a pseudo menswear/prep outfit.

Overall, this is a very casual outfit which is why I paired my sneakers with it.  I’m not about wearing a full wool suit with sneakers (as GQ shows a lot) but I’m definitely open to keeping things casual, like this cotton DB.  Casual fabrics are key to pulling off your sneakers in a dressed down menswear outfit.  I’d even suggest to wear these sneakers with a khaki chino suit or a white linen suit.  Just be sure to ditch the tie or wear a tee or polo; wearing a tie with sneakers is a bit too much and steps into #menswear territory.



Cotton DB from SuitSupply, Linen Shirt from Uniqlo, Denim jeans from Levis

Outfit 2:  Palewave?


Okay, it’s not really a true palewave look because I’m wearing black jeans (a true palewave would’ve done white or light-wash jeans). I guess that makes it more normcore! This might be my deepest foray into streetwear that I’ve ever done.  My jeans are cuffed higher, the tee is looser, and I’m wearing a true dad-cap.   I think Tim would be proud of this outfit.  MFA too.

In this context, the shoes add a bit of a pop to a pretty solid-yet-bland dominated outfit.  The blue and white of the shoe are a welcome relief to the black jeans and the beige color block of the shirt and cap.  It’s almost serves as the streetwear equivalent to the spectator shoe!  When wearing these shoes with super-casual pieces, I’m definitely going to keep everything muted and let the shoes do the talking.


Panamas are cool, but a baseball cap is probably the most functional piece of headwear that you can own.  A panama and fedora are hard to pull off casually or in everyday outfits, which is why I suggest getting one!  I already owned one before but its flannel and not fit for hot weather.  The one in this outfit is cotton and lightweight, which is perfect for the summer.  I’d suggest buying one in neutral colors (beige, blue, white, even pink) so you maximize its versatility.


The cap was $15 and the shirt was $10.  Casual basics are so cheap!


Jeans were cropped higher than previous outfit, for a more “experimental” streetwear look.

Cap from Urban Outfitters, Shirt from Gap, Jeans from Hot Topic

Before buying them, I was always attracted to the aesthetic of these sneakers but never incorporated them into my style.  Now that I have them, I feel challenged to create new outfits and experiment with different styles, whether its modern prep/menswear or even streetwear!  This blog is not only meant for me to share my views on fashion and style with you all but to also show my own improvement and growth.

So yes, I do dress down.

I’m curious to know what you think!  Do you like these sneakers? Which look do you prefer?  Let me know by commenting below!  And don’t forget to get your own Onitsuka tigers here before they sell out! 

Always a pleasure,

Ethan W.

Street x Sprezza 

Photography by Scott E. and Spencer O. 

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