TAKING ON THE TIGER.
Milanese designer Andrea Pompilio recently collaborated with Onistuka Tiger to create a refreshingly bright and elegant capsule collection for the legendary Japanese shoe label. We spoke to him about the collection, about his evolution as a designer and his creative inspirations.
JV: Tell us a bit about your upbringing and childhood and also your personal life. What do you enjoy in your free time?
AP: I grew up in very artistic surroundings. My mother was interested in paintings and my father was an architect, so I always got a feel for aesthetics and beauty. I used to spend a lot of time at my grandmother’s shop, a small fashion boutique in my hometown of Pesaro. From that, at a very early age, came the idea of becoming a fashion designer. After that dream became a reality, I travelled the world and lived in many different places, before eventually settling down in Milan and starting my own brand. Honestly, I don’t have much free time. I’m always on a plane or on a train, but I love being on the move; that’s my biggest source of energy and inspiration.
JV: You studied in Italy and worked for some of the most important Italian and international fashion and luxury brands, such as Alessandro Dell’Acqua, Prada, Calvin Klein and Yves Saint Lauren. Tell us about your experiences working for those fashion houses and the influences you have had.
AP: They were all amazing experiences, from Prada’s conceptual minimalism to minimalism with a commercial attitude at Calvin Klein, to the maximalism of Yves Saint Laurent in its Tom Ford version.
Each of these brands gave me so much, just as I gave much to all of them. Now that I have my own brand, I can consider what I create as the result of an expertise built during the last 20 years, and I keep getting inspiration from these jobs and life experiences, deeply connected to the cities I used to live in.
JV:How do you think you’ve evolved as a designer since your debut collection in 2010?
AP: I certainly evolved as a designer, but most of all as an entrepreneur. I had to make a transition from being “just” a creative, to being both things and to face the challenge of building a company. For a creative to set up his own business involves obstacles that test you every day. But I’m happy to be the main protagonist in my own life, and also in my work.
JV: How did the idea of the collaboration between Onitsuka Tiger, one of Japan’s oldest shoe companies, come to fruition? What specifically was the inspiration for your SS15 collection with Onitsuka Tiger? Any favourite pieces?
AP: They got in touch with me to design an iconic sneaker. Of course, I was extremely pleased given my great admiration and respect for such a legendary brand! After the success of that first collaboration I ended up designing an entire capsule collection for them, and we started this co-branding adventure.
The SS15 collection is an energetic collection, which takes elements from both ancient history (the sandals of roman gladiators, for instance, transformed into iconic cut-out sneakers) and contemporary times and melt them together into a cutting-edge sporty proposition. It has strong tribal vibes, with many African elements and a visually striking effect. It’s hard to pick a break-away piece.
JV: You mentioned that travelling has inspired you immensely with your creations. Which country was the most interesting, how many countries have you travelled to and where would you like to go next?
AP: I’m in love with Japan and I’m very attached to the country on a personal level. I honestly wouldn’t know how many countries I’ve been to…! Certainly a very good amount! I’ve never been to Australia though and I’d love to go.
JV: Your mother and father being both an architect and painter respectively and your grandmother working in a fashion boutique has certainly influenced your decision to pursue a career in fashion design at a young age. What else have they taught you about life?
AP: Apart from educating me a lot on a stylistic and cultural level, they always supported my choices in life. They taught me to be curious, proactive and work hard to achieve my goals.
JV: What have been your biggest struggles and successes so far in your career? How did you get past your struggles and how do you keep motivated?
AP: Fortunately, I never had a proper downturn in my career. Launching my own label was surely a big step, it wasn’t all easy at first. But being able to stand out independently was also my biggest success. After all, new challenges and new projects are what really keeps me motivated.
JV: Your collaboration with Onitsuka tiger is mainly focused on sporty outerwear. Do you have any plans to collaborate with other designers or artists in the near future? You also mentioned you would love to collaborate with Junya Watanabe, can you elaborate?
I don’t have anything like that coming up next, I’m happy to devote my energies to Onitsuka Tiger, besides my own brand and Canali. I’m super busy already, but never say never to new projects! I love Junya Watanabe because he always has something interesting to say with his clothes, he has a unique point of view and a true personality.
JV: What do you personally like to wear? What is your fashion essential?
AP: A white t-shirt/shirt or a pair of jeans. That’s my uniform. As a designer, I would definitely say a jacket or some piece of outerwear instead; which would be a winter coat, a trench or a bomber jacket.
JV: Where do you think the next fashion capital will emerge?
AP: I would say somewhere in Asia. Tokyo is already a rising star, there’s a real buzz there and I’ve seen very exciting things.
JV: Advice for young fashion designers? Dos and Donts.
AP: Do take this job seriously; do learn to control emotions and a have thick skin. Do have a cultural curiosity. Do have the will to learn before claiming to be creative. Don’t rush things and don’t think it’s all going to be easy.