Get access to everything we publish when you sign up for Outside+.
Evolv, the southern California-based leader in creating high-performance climbing shoes, today unveiled its new Ashima X Brain Dead Zenist shoe, a collaboration with world-renowned climber Ashima Shiraishi and celebrated Los Angeles creative firm Brain Dead.
The Zenist shoe will be available via pre-sale beginning June 26 at evolvsports.com, and all orders made during the presale will be shipped to customers this fall. One-hundred percent of profits from the presale event will be donated to five different organizations working to make climbing more accessible to underrepresented communities.
The Zenist will be available at select retailers and climbing gyms and on the company’s website ahead of the 2020 holiday season.
The launch of the Zenist traces back to an idea from Shiraishi and Kyle Ng, a Los Angeles-based climber, photographer and co-founder of Brain Dead, a firm that specializes in designing exclusive product lines with leading apparel companies. Shiraishi then took the concept of a unique collaboration to Evolv, which began work immediately on a stylish competition-level shoe that will help support the growth of climbing and access to the sport.
“Ashima and Kyle suggested that we do a collaboration together and we were so psyched we didn’t even hesitate,” said Evolv founder Brian Chung. “Since we’re going to do a collaboration with a brand like Brain Dead and with Ashima, we wanted to step it up and make it on a new model that no one has ever seen before to make a splash in the market. This is definitely not your every day all-around climbing shoe, but it’s a sensitive and powerful performance shoe great for steep and competition climbing both indoors and outdoors.”
The Zenist is designed for competition climbers who need the most feedback from their shoes during precise foot placements and delicate moves on the rock or in the gym. The Vegan synthetic upper on a robust last will ensure an athlete’s foot is always in a position of power, and the rubber provides just the right amount of rigidity without sacrificing the needed sensitivity for any highball bouldering problem or redpoint at the gym.
Shiraishi, an Evolv athlete who is widely regarded as one of the top young climbing talents in the world, played a large role in the design of the shoe and in bringing the collaboration together.
“As an athlete, I wanted to share my experience and make sure the product performs well. It has to be a good, quality shoe, so I tested out the shoes and suggested little tweaks here and there if I wanted something to improve,” said Shiraishi, who also collaborated on the Evolv Ashima shoe, launched in 2019. “But I also wanted to make sure the colors and the design worked well, and all of those decisions were made by Brian, Kyle, and me. My role was just bringing everyone together and helping the project blossom.”
Evolv has agreed to donate all profits during the presale to five organizations working to help diversify the sport of climbing: Young Women Who Crush (YWCC), Adaptive Climbing Group, DEI Film Festival, Brown Girls Climbing, and Long Beach Rising.
“I’ve always felt that the climbing and outdoor industry could do more to embrace and promote inclusivity, and we could lead that,” Chung said. “Inclusivity to us means opening up climbing opportunities to everyone with different backgrounds, races, abilities/disabilities, and socio-economic situations by making the sport more accessible and also helping those who need more support. We believe that it’s important for us to try to make a meaningful difference in our own climbing community first to effect positive change.”