People | 20 QUESTIONS

Andrea Pompilio: 'Keep wearing fashion the way you want to'

by Misha Janette

Special To The Japan Times

Name: Andrea Pompilio
Age: 42
Nationality: Italian
Occupation: Designer

1. What first brought you to Japan? I first came to Japan 15 years ago when I was working for Calvin Klein in New York. I then came back five years ago after finding a distributor for my brand. At that time, I wanted to make a high-tech sneaker for my brand, and so I met Mr. (Ryoji) Shoda (of Onitsuka Tiger). Together, we started the Onitsuka Tiger by Andrea Pompilio brand.

2. If you could wear one outfit for the rest of your life, what would it be? Jeans and a white T-shirt.

3. What made you want to be a designer? My grandmother ran her own boutique, which got me interested in fashion from an early age. I remember playing hide-and-seek with my brothers among the clothes in the boutique and feeling a strong affinity with fashion even way back then.

4. Have you ever worn a hakama or kimono? I’ve never worn a kimono, but I have worn the robe they typically have in guestrooms when I went to Kyoto. I’d love to be able to wear one properly someday.

5. Where do you find inspiration for your collections? I find inspiration in my travels or among the things around me. Instead of focusing on cool or beautiful things, I tend to find inspiration in ugly or uncool things. I find something that’s awkward and then try to make it look better by editing it in my head.

6. What do you think about fast-fashion culture? I think it’s really ruining the fashion market as we know it. I believe that brand quality lies in fashion that tells a story and has depth. As such, I’m not a fan of fast fashion — I don’t really consider it to be “fashion” at all.

7. What do you think is the biggest difference between streetwear and high fashion? There might be a difference when it comes to creative output, but I don’t think there’s a huge difference between the two anymore. High fashion and streetwear are all one and the same these days and you see most people mix the two together all the time anyway.

8. What goes through your head when you are taking a bow at the end of a show? While I feel a great deal of thanks, I also feel like I’m already late on the next collection. I know I should just take in the moment but the minute it’s over, I know there are a million other things that need my attention.

9. Do you read the reviews of your own shows? I read reviews when it comes to my own brand, but I don’t think it’s essential. I am usually very content with my own designs, so whether it’s a positive or negative review, it doesn’t affect how I move forward.

10. What was the first fashion item you bought? I spent my first paycheck on a black coat from Helmut Lang about 20 years ago when I was working for Prada.

11. What is your favorite cafe or lunch spot in Tokyo? I love trying out new spots in Tokyo. I’ll wander into cafes, restaurants, clubs or whatever I happen to stumble across in small alleyways. I also really like Japanese washoku cuisine. I like so many things, I couldn’t talk about them all!

12. Where do you shop in Tokyo? I like so many places in Tokyo. The stores here are stocked with so many interesting items — it’s unlike anywhere else in the world. I always go into Comme des Garcons when I’m in Tokyo and buy at least one T-shirt.

13. If you could design an outfit for anyone in history, who would it be? Napoleon Bonaparte. I often design military styles, and he is the person I admire the most.

14. If you could only watch one movie for the rest of your life what would it be? I don’t really like getting stuck on anything in particular, and so I watch a lot of different genres of movies and listen to lots of different kinds of music. It’s impossible for me to choose just one.

15. What would you like to do if you weren’t a designer? I actually think about this at least once a month, but I don’t really have an answer for it. So even if I weren’t a designer, I would be … a designer.

16. What’s the most exciting thing about designing sportswear? I’m fascinated by sporty street styles, and feel honored to work with Onitsuka Tiger. It’s not just lip service, I have always been interested in sporty styles and the combination of high fashion and sportswear. I think it’s really interesting when someone wears a nylon parka with really fancy dress shoes, or a pair of elegant pants with sneakers.

17. If you could be a superhero, who would you be? Definitely Batman.

18. What do you think of men wearing skirts and dresses? In Scotland, it’s traditional for men to wear them, and pleated skirts are also a part of punk fashion. However, I personally prefer a more “masculine” look, so I don’t really “get it” when men wear dresses or skirts.

19. Tell us something about yourself people might not know. I like to laze around in slippers at home watching TV or reading a book.

20. Do you have any words of advice for young people? Keep wearing fashion the way you want to. Don’t just follow fashion trends. Try to find your own uniqueness in the way you wear your clothes. I think you can tell what a person is like on the inside by how they wear their clothes.