8FIVE2 has become both an institution and a pioneer in the Southeast Asian skate community. In 2009, the brand celebrated its 10th anniversary helped in part by a Vans collaboration based on an all-black leather Chukka Low. A year and a half later, Vans and 8FIVE2 once again join forces this time working on a clean and minimalistic Vans Syndicate model titled the Versa Mid. While inline versions have taken a more simple route, 8FIVE2 adds some special touches warranted by the collaboration including a soft leather toecap in white to contrast against the black waxed canvas body. Despite the aesthetics of a vulcanized sole, the shoe is a cupsole design and is available for purchase as of July 1 exclusively through 8FIVE2. We caught up with 8FIVE2 owner Brian Siswojo and asked him a few questions regarding the recent collaboration with Vans, and the brand’s influence on skateboarding in Asia.
After your first collaboration with Vans back in 2009, what did you want to do differently this time around?
This time we decided to take vulcanized, cupsole-looking shoes and totally deconstruct them. We chose to use black canvas with a white leather toecap since we believe it’s something that you don’t see a lot of in Vans’s footwear collections.
And why did you pick the Versa Mid “S”?
Well, we had originally decided on the Versa but I really wanted it to be deconstructed; no padding, just straight canvas shoes. So Jay Potocar (Syndicate director) suggested that we do the Versa Mid ‘S.’ I didn’t even know it was going to be a Syndicate collaboration until we received the shoes. No joke. We’re so honored and surprised, thank you to Jay Potocar and the crew at Vans USA for sure.
Can you describe the design or theme of the shoe?
We just wanted to do something that was simple but yet still different from the rest of Vans’s footwear. So we designed a shoe that easily matches your day to day outfit, allowing you to rock them when you you’re just cruising around town with your skateboard but also so you can look fifteen percent better wearing them out with your date at night.
The Versa Mid “S” embodies a vulcanized aesthetic with a cupsole construction, but at the end of the day…cupsole vs. vulcanized?
Let’s put it this way, vulcanized is perfect for the first 10 days but then it dies out and the soles flatten. Cupsole, on the other hand, can be rocked for months and still feel comfortable. But I love footwear so much that I really just like them all.
You’ve taken it upon yourself to advance the sport of skateboarding. What are your thoughts on the role you’ve taken?
I’ve been skateboarding since 1988 and it’s become a part of my life. When I started out back in 1988 there weren’t very many skateboarders around so I always wanted all of my friends or the people that I knew to start skateboarding so they could really get to know the best positive addiction known to men. It’s just organic how it all happened. I’m so blessed and lucky to have the opportunity to be the president of AHKSA (All Hong Kong Skateboards Association) and together with our crew (Warren, Lee Hawk, etc.), we push skateboarding to another level and try to work closely with the Hong Kong government so that future skateboarders can have it easier here.
With China becoming increasingly big into action sports, how will this spill over into the rest of the region?
Right now, we’ve just started to work closely with skateboarders in China but Warren and I are in the process of something big for skateboarding in Asia. Wait and see.