Onitsuka Tiger sneakers: Interview with designer Andrea Pompilio
Fashion

Eye of the Tiger: 8 Questions With Andrea Pompilio

Milan's bad boy of fashion talks about taking on the concrete jungle and his ongoing familial affair with Onitsuka Tiger
Reading time 4 minutes

Andrea Pompilio has been dubbed as one of Italy’s rising stars, breathing life into the once-sombre Milanese menswear scene upon the debut of his eponymous label in 2010. These days, Pompilio’s Midas touch has a more global reach, thanks to his collaboration with Japanese heritage brand, Onitsuka Tiger.

Clearly, they’ve got a good thing going on. Four years on, the magical mix of Pompilio’s contemporary sartorial codes and Onitsuka Tiger’s urban influences shows no signs of waning – and this season, the designer is ready to take on the concrete jungle with the release of the Onitsuka Tiger x Andrea Pompilio Spring/Summer 2017 collection, aptly titled ‘Urban Safari’.

What is the story behind this season’s collection ‘Urban Safari’?
I have been lucky enough to live in many different cities like Paris, Milan, and New York. Don’t get me wrong, I love the metropolitan life but sometimes it can be a nightmare – it’s almost like being in a jungle! This new collection is inspired by these cities. There is definitely a jungle explorer vibe to it. I’ve used a lot of khaki and beige combined with cotton to resemble safari attire; belts with military-inspired macro buckles; comfy backpacks and big nylon bags just like the ones you would use on a safari.

This marks your ninth season collaborating with Onitsuka Tiger. How do you keep the creative juices flowing even after four years?
My Italian vision on fashion and the historical significance of a Japanese brand such as Onitsuka Tiger is a combination that works really well. We are a close-knit team, like a family.

How has your partnership with Onitsuka Tiger evolved over the years?
It has evolved a lot!  We first started with only one pair of shoes, progressed to a mens’ capsule collection with twelve looks, and then a runway show in Pitti Uomo with 35 male and female models. Now we have a full co-branding project going on with a unique, creative vision for both Onitsuka Tiger and Onitsuka Tiger x Andrea Pompilio.

2016 marked the 50th anniversary of the iconic Onitsuka Tiger Stripes. How did you pay homage to this milestone?
We created a new pair of shoes inspired by the first-ever basketball trainers Onitsuka Tiger designed back in 1950. It was fun digging into the Kobe Archives, learning about how the original shoes was made. The 50th anniversary design is still called OK BASKETBALL but it has been given a whole new look and a lighter feel with fishnet fabric.

We hear that Japanese singer KOM_I of Wednesday Campanella is a big fan of the brand.
We are big fans of KOM_I – she’s fresh, energetic, confident, authentic, and stylish in her own way. KOM_I and her stylist love Onitsuka Tiger, so it’s a natural fit for us to work with her closely.

"​​​​​​​I never talk about the future. Time goes by so quickly in this industry: ideas come and go, and everything can change in a matter of moments."

How do you think 2017 is shaping up for the fashion industry in general?
It’s definitely a difficult time because there’s a lot of confusion going on, especially with the ‘see now, buy now’ trend.

What’s your take on that?
I belong to a generation that considers fashion a dream – something to aspire to. But I do think that the ‘see now, buy now’ model is very interesting: it gives brands the opportunity to express themselves however they choose, whether it’s presenting a Fall/Winter collection during Spring/Summer fashion week or making their collection available online a few minutes after the fashion show has finished.

What’s next for Andrea Pompilio?
I never talk about the future. Time goes by so quickly in this industry: ideas come and go, and everything can change in a matter of moments.

Image © Alessandro Furchino

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