Japanese Label Onitsuka Tiger Teams Up With Andrea Pompilio Once Again

We speak to the Italian designer to find out more about the eclectic partnership and collection.

BY ian loh | Sep 11, 2016 | Shoes

ESQUIRE: Tell us more about the A/W ’16 collection.
ANDREA POMPILIO: The main inspiration is grunge, but in a sophisticated way. I started working in the fashion industry in the ’90s, when grunge was at its height. It was a very strange and interesting historical time for me. What you want to convey with your clothes is more of an attitude, so I wanted the fashion show to feel a little underground, with its looks rooted in the UK and the US of the ’90s. Imagine people dancing to grunge music in the clubs, that personality, that historical moment.

ESQ: Do you always have historical references in your collections?
AP: In general, I don’t like to make historical references. At this moment, I think it’s more interesting to do a collection of the now. I don’t like to be inspired by the ’50s or the ’60s, but sometimes, I like to add a bit of detail. In this collection, for example, there are full tartan looks, cropped trousers; I think such details, together with accessories, create the story of the collection.

ESQ: What’s the highlight of the collection?
AP: This season is about skaters and ’90s grunge. Last season was about California dreaming and surfers. It’s everything I wish that I could do, but am too old to do now. [laughs] But there’s definitely a lot of mix and match this time round. For example, in terms of suiting, there are like five different patterns mixed together. I am also combining more sportswear with prêt-a-porter. I don’t like to give just one direction; I like the opportunity to mix and match.

ESQ: Sneakers are the “It” shoe right now. Tell us more about the sneakers in the collection.
AP: With Onitsuka Tiger, we always try to create something that’s a bit more interesting. When you see them, you think they are sneakers, but actually, they’re not. This season, the sneakers are inspired by creepers. We’ve only used one platform, which is the creeper sole, and changed the details with invisible zippers, chunky shoes and high boots for women. Although the inspiration is creepers, our versions are rounder and chunkier. It’s perhaps the most daring design that we’ve put out so far.

ESQ: Who is your ideal Onitsuka Tiger x Andrea Pompilio man?
AP: I always love a strong personality. I think he is somebody who loves fashion and always dresses for himself. He is tough and doesn’t need clothes to be somebody; clothes simply make him stronger.

ESQ: We saw a few androgynous looks on the runway. What do you think about the trend?
AP: I don’t like to push androgynous the way, say, Gucci does. When you’re at a Gucci show, you completely lose sense of who’s male and who’s female. A man should be a man, and a woman should be a woman. I don’t like the idea of losing completely the sensation of the person that I see in front of me. So, androgynous in terms of how you dress is fine, but I think there are rules for men and women.

ESQ: What is your idea of beauty then?
AP: The truth is, most of my inspirations don’t come from beauty. They come from ugliness. For example, when you see a girl wearing white cowboy boots with a pink shirt, you might think, ‘Oh my god, that’s so ugly!” But that inspires me in a different way. I start thinking that I could make a pink bomber jacket with super-white sneakers. My attention is usually more in that direction rather than focusing on everything that’s beautiful. I think it’s very easy to find a beautiful person. There’s beauty everywhere you look. Sometimes, it’s ridiculous to be inspired by beauty, because we are the ones who create it. I find it a lot more interesting when things are clashing.

ESQ: You have your own line, and you also design for Onitsuka Tiger twice a year. How do you cope? Do you think fashion is moving too fast?
AP: There are a lot of changes happening in the fashion industry. I think what we need right now is to concentrate on our jobs more, because the fashion calendar and timing given to us is impossible. You know 10, 20 years ago, brands like Armani and Versace had only two collections: summer and winter. I think we have to rework it a little. I don’t believe in fast fashion. I believe in very good products. I never believe in a pre-collection or a Cruise collection. We need to stop for a second and understand what works and what doesn’t.

First published in Esquire Malaysia August 2016 issue.