Andrea Pompilio Trawls Through The Onitsuka Tiger Archives

Resurfacing with fresh looks for the brand's fall/winter'17 collection.

BY Lestari Hairul | Sep 25, 2017 | Fashion

For a less artistic, less design-oriented person, the sneaker is a shoe that can only be reinvented so many times. For Andrea Pompilio, his well of inspiration never runs dry and it is about restyling, not reinventing the footwear. In earlier interviews, he’s described his love for the non-beautiful and reiterates the point when we catch up with him at Onitsuka Tiger’s press presentation for its Fall/Winter ’17 collection in Seoul.

“If you ask me what I don’t like, maybe I’d say I don’t like what the rest of the world likes. I’m a very contrasting person. I’m always attracted to bad things because I think that makes me much more inspired,” he says. “I grew up in beauty, I’m always surrounded by beauty. So, for me, beauty is boring. Everybody now, with the help of magazines, knows about fashion, about beautiful cars, which is the best restaurant to visit. But to see something that’s really unusual, for me, it’s more attractive than the ‘normal’ thing.”

While people are looking for the next new thing, he dove into the past, into Onitsuka Tiger’s extensive archives, to get that slice of not-normal. He describes a repository containing decades-upon-decades of information; a collection of 50 shoes, for instance, will actually leaves a legacy of 200 shoes, many of which may not have made the cut for that season, but will retire as valuable records of fashion history. Advertising campaigns, old catalogues, all served to eventually produce the shoes of The New Street Preppy collection. Pairs of trekking boots from the ’70s, then called the Himalayan and the Munari #7610, have been redesigned into the MNR AP to include details from a classic men’s dress shoe, lending it a silhouette that’s sleeker than a bulky mountain boot.

Even the OG, the classic Onitsuka Tiger, has been souped up. The basketball shoes from the ’50s that started it all have been reincarnated into the OK Basketball RB. Nylon materials and stitching that are utilised in snow boots update the look, while its main shape stays true to and respects the vintage.

Pompilio explains that a particular project by the brand back in the ’60s and the ’70s had caught his eye, thanks to an old catalogue. Absolutely smitten, that project was relaunched and several elements of it now form the backbone of The New Street Preppy.

“If you show me my collection tomorrow when I’m on the aeroplane, I’ll hate it. It’s like a woman giving birth; after that, it’s done. For me, it’s the same thing. When you do a show, you never see it again the day after. Next step, new one, it’s very difficult for a designer to do the same thing,” says Pompilio.

There’s nothing new under the sun, and there are only a million ways to wear a shoe on the foot, but with a designer like Pompilio, there’s little danger in producing the same-old. Even if they come from the past.

This article was first published in the print edition of Esquire Singapore, September 2017.