Onitsuka Tiger's Creative Director On The Sneakers Of The Future, Luxury & More

Prashansa Daniell , 09 Jul 2019
Andrea Pompilio
Andrea Pompilio

They say spending quality time with a learned person is equivalent to reading a book. So when I got the chance to meet Onitsuka Tiger‘s Creative Director, Andrea Pompilio, I was ecstatic! Onitsuka Tiger‘s brand philosophy has always been about comfort and convenience and with Andrea Pompilio’s added aesthetic, this brand is evolving into one that aces both comfort and style—and his AW ’19 line is proof. His work history is nothing short of brilliant, so I was ready to ask him all the questions I had about this brand and how he is taking it to another level. Keep reading to see!

Can you tell us the themes of the collection? What was your inspiration?

This collection, however is heavily inspired by the end of the ’80s and beginning of the ’90s and the rave parties that happened in the villages then. The reason why we decided to call the collection ‘Downtown Rave’, is because our inspiration started from the rave, but also encapsulated clothes and shoes appropriate for big cities which was picked from the downtown part of ‘Downtown Rave’.

Any predictions of what the sneaker of the future will look like for Onitsuka Tiger?

Okay, so Onitsuka is very interesting because it’s one of the oldest companies and one of the most comfortable sneakers in the world. Plus I’m telling you this because I tried a lot of them before I was working for them. So wha we want to do is give them a seasonal fashion statement. So at the moment, it is all about power! It is very important for sneakers to look chunky. Actually the silhouette is very dressy and very chunky, almost ridiculous shoes are very trendy right now. But at Onitsuka Tiger we have a lot of shoes, like the historic Mexico 66 shoes, but we always try to also create seasonal, contemporary shoes. At the moment, what I can tell you is, I think we are borderline—so they are in fashion even as something that is very tight and small, close to the feet and even something very chunky. So we are balancing it out with both these styles.

Onitsuka Tiger AW'19 Preview
Onitsuka Tiger AW’19 Preview

For a brand known for its sneakers, how have you approached designing clothes?

For me it is not about separation between sneaker and clothes, It’s one collection. It’s like a movie, one concept, one movie to the people. This is my movie, you know what I mean? Onitsuka Tiger is always talking about the same type of young new generation. It is an international global brand, not a Japanese, it is not European just because I’m Italian, it is international. That for me, is the most important thing. So there is no separation between bags, shoes and clothes, it is only one world.

Is there a designer or brand that inspires you?

Always, Yeah. Rei Kawakubo and Miuccia Prada for sure. But in particular Helmut Lang is one of the most iconic for me because I was collecting a lot of clothes when I was 20-23 years old.

Can you tell us a little bit about how your past job experiences have helped you become the creative director of Onitsuka Tiger?

I grew up very fast. I learnt a lot of skill just because it’s the most important thing for your life and that can be positive or negative. If you don’y do anything you suffer. The more stuff you do the more stuff you are incharge of it, the more positive energy, more culture you can have. We all may have a different experience but all of there really beautiful in a positive or negative way. And for sure that part of my culture, are part of my backpack. So now there are Andrea Pompilio—Andrea Pompilio is what we are, it’s what we do, it’s what we are eating, the people we meet, the energy we share. So if you stay with good people you will be a good person and if you stay with bad people you are a bad person. you know what I mean? I think that is interesting, like catching a very good vibe in general.

Onitsuka Tiger AW'19 Preview
Onitsuka Tiger AW’19 Preview

Do you have some style advise for men?

 For me in menswear, it’s all about the shoes and socks. But personally I’m obsessed with boxers, I mean underwear, I mean my classic underwear from the ’50s in pop, with my name and my initials. I think that is a very lateral thing. 

What does luxury mean to you today?

For me at the moment luxury is all about taking out time for yourself, a lot of time for the people you love. It is not about travelling in a private jet. I think luxury now is trying to find the perfect partner to experience life with for the rest of your days. That for me is luxury—spending time for yourself because we are running so fast and sometimes we lose out on life’s beauty.

Talking to Andrea Pompilio made me realise that a Creative Director’s vision is focused but not limited to just the style or fashionable elements that are trending. Inspiration can be drawn from eras unlived and people unknown. One of my biggest lessons that I am taking away from this interaction is to never be limited to the trends of a season and to view people as well as this world as inspiration.

Follow @missmalinifashion and @missmalinibeauty on Instagram for more updates.

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