We Speak To Andrea Pompilio On His S/S17 Collaboration With Onitsuka Tiger
Onitsuka Tiger X Andrea Pompilio SS17 sees the release of the new OK BASKETBALL
There aren’t many kids who decide what they want to be before they hit ten, but Andrea Pompilio—who was born in 1973 in the seaside town of Pesaro, in Italy, knew that he was going to be a fashion designer when he was barely 8 years old. From proudly announcing his chosen profession to his grandmother, to starting up his eponymous menswear label years later, Pompilio has also cut his teeth working at Prada, Calvin Klein and Yves Saint Laurent. Each aspect of his signature style can be directly attributed to the sartorial influences of his grandfathers—one, a dapper gentleman and the other a strict army officer, who was always decked out in his imposing military uniform. Combined with these personal influences, the talented Pompilio also finds inspiration for his designs through carefully observing the minutiae of everyday life.
His work with Japanese athletics and lifestyle brand Onitsuka Tiger started off as a sneaker collaboration for S/S13. Over time, the great design synergy between the two manifested in a full capsule collection, one that included RTW apparel, shoes and accessories. Having recently celebrated the Onitsuka Tiger X Andrea Pompilio S/S17 “Urban Safari” collection in Shanghai, which saw all twelve looks presented on models for the event, Pompilio takes a moment to talk to Esquire Singapore about his varied influences, his method of working and, just how he manages to tread that fine line between sportswear and fashion.
- How did the collaboration with Onitsuka Tiger first come about? What attracted you to the brand?
It all started from my need to insert high-end trainers in my own line ANDREA POMPILIO, from a specialized producer. Discussing with my distributor in Japan I got in touch with lovely Mr. Ryoji Shoda [General Manager of the Lifestyle Department, Global Lifestyle Division (Onitsuka Tiger)]. We met over a delicious Japanese lunch and that’s how we began working together.
- What is the process like when you are designing the collaboration with Onitsuka Tiger?
With a specialized company like Onitsuka Tiger, everything revolves around trainers, and we start working on the shoes early because it takes time to develop the perfect pair of trainers. Once we have that, only then do we start building the rest of the collection. My team and I first set up a mood board complete with Onitsuka Tiger’s history and previous collections, and then we start brainstorming about new collection concepts. After that, we set up another mood board with colours and fabric samples, which we use as a starting point for designing the entire RTW collection and accessories.
- Is it a similar process to when you are designing your own, ANDREA POMPILIO collection, or is it quite different?
It is similar but the timing is completely different. I can start working on my own collection 4 months before I present it, I don’t need to start that much in advance because my line is not focused primarily on footwear. Production in Italy it’s also easier to follow, I personally check every step of production for each garment in my line—I try it on personally and if I like it, then I’ll confirm it in the collection or else I’ll cancel it.
- When designing a fashion-forward collection for a Japanese sports and lifestyle label, do you draw inspiration from all the different cultures you have experienced? Or is it something more specific that inspires you?
I always draw inspiration from my surroundings, be it Japan, Italy or New York. During my travels, I always search for possible elements to inform my next collection. I come back from my trips full of stuff I have bought out of excitement, and I often find new ideas in objects that might not have anything to do with fashion – like furniture pieces, or another puppet to add to my collection.
I consider myself to be a global citizen, so I’d like to instil my cosmopolitan view into all my lines and collaborations. What I enjoy most during my trips, which helps a lot when I’m working on a collection, is ‘people-watching’. I like to see real people interact on the streets, or in bars, cafes, etc... I like to observe what they’re wearing, reading and how they’re behaving. Of particular fascination to me are the people who exist on the edge of bad taste: canonical beauty doesn’t really move me, I’m more attracted to unusual types because I find them striking. They inspire me, it doesn’t matter nationality they are.
- Performance capability and high-tech, functional materials are key in sportswear—how has this affected the way the Onitsuka Tiger collaboration has developed?
We love researching for new textiles and use them to create an urban look that can be worn every day. High-tech textiles are transformed into a fashion item, and this is the stimulating part of my job at Onitsuka Tiger—creating an exclusive piece of clothing that also has performance capability.
- ‘Movement’ was an integral part of the inspiration behind this current S/S17 collection, also in these increasingly fluid times, do you see mobility as a luxury?
The chance to travel is certainly a form of luxury because it gives you the opportunity to open your mind and see different realities. It also allows you to take in what you like and distance yourself from what you don’t. Especially in these fluid times, when you need to be in multiple places at once and do many things at the same time, escaping routine and everyday life is a form of luxury. Actually, it is a life-saver!
- What does the word ‘luxury’ mean to you?
Luxury can be many things:
- Free time
- Waking up next to the person we love
- Deciding to leave all of a sudden without being accountable for it.
- Could you tell us about your favourite men’s piece from the collection?
I absolutely adore the remake of the first pair of basketball trainers ever designed by Onitsuka Tiger! We researched it in Kobe City Archives and worked on a new and lighter look in fishnet fabric. It’s called OK BASKETBALL, and it’s simply the model OT made 50 years ago revisited. Also, I personally love anything in the striped jersey textile, from t-shirts to knitwear…as you probably know already I have a penchant for stripes and I use them extensively in my own line—for S/S17, everything is mixed with contrasting horizontal and vertical stripes to give more movement to the entire collection.
- Do you feel that the boundary between sportswear and fashion, which used to be far more defined, is no longer relevant?
Nowadays people like to mix and match different styles together and people are allowed to break rules and wear whatever they are comfortable with. Streetwear is part of pret-a-porter, there’s no difference between sportswear, pret-a-porter and haute couture anymore in terms of style.
- How would you define the Onitsuka Tiger X Andrea Pompilio man?
I see OTXAP Man as my younger self, who does everything I’d like to do. Hence why the surfer, skateboarder…he’s my carefree, fearless self!
Check out more of the collaboration at onitsukatiger.com