How Andrea Pompilio Is Updating Onitsuka Tiger for SS19 & Beyond

The Italian designer discusses working with the brand’s heritage for Spring/Summer 2019.

9,966 Hypes 4 Comments

2018 marks five years since Italian-born designer Andrea Pompilio began working with Onitsuka Tiger. Over the course of that time, the designer — who comes with a CV boasting work for Prada, Calvin Klein and Saint Laurent — has gone from collaborating with the Japanese label to becoming a driving force behind the brand’s new direction. With his new position as creative director for Onitsuka Tiger, Pompilio is helping to update the brand for 2018.

“In the last couple of seasons, I was taking care more of the whole environment, not only the collaboration,” explains Pompilio of his new job title. “It doesn’t make any sense to put my name on the label when everybody knows I’m in the back of this thing.” This new position gives Pompilio a more wide-ranging influence over Onitsuka Tiger, with a particular focus on apparel and accessories as well as some sneakers.

Andrea Pompilio Onitsuka tiger mexico 66 kill bill sneakers apparel accessories tokyo fashion week spring/summer 2019 ss19 fashion footwear trainers

Working with a brand like Onitsuka Tiger presents challenges for a new creative director looking to shake things up. The brand is set to celebrate its 70th anniversary next year, and brings with it a long-standing heritage, especially in the minds of its Japanese customers. “A man, probably 80 years old, was having Onitsuka Tigers when he was young,” says Pompilio, “It’s a big history. When you work with somebody so recognizable and such a statement for Japan, its very interesting, its really interesting for me.” Staying true to this heritage, while also modernizing the label’s image, is the cornerstone of what Pompilio is trying to do. “It’s all about respecting the history,” Pompilio answers when asked about working with the ASICS-owned brand, “because you cannot do exactly what you want to do. You cannot destroy what other people in the past created for you.”

“It’s all about respecting the history. You cannot destroy what other people in the past created for you.”

References to Onitsuka Tiger’s heritage appear throughout recent collections, with footwear in particular acting as both a nod to the past and a link to the future. Pompilio’s footwear designs fall into different categories, creating a clear line from the brand’s heritage to its future. “We have the seasonal story, where we design shoes completely from the beginning,” he explains, “and we have the middle story where we take some historical shoes but we change the details, to make a link between the heritage and the new.”

As well as footwear — which Onitsuka Tiger is arguably best known for — Pompilio references the label’s history through his apparel and accessories. The brand’s Spring/Summer 2019 collection was unveiled in a converted movie theatre at the end of Tokyo Fashion Week, and featured subtle nods to the lineage of the label. Key touchstones included Onitsuka Tiger’s legacy in athletics and sportswear, as well as its pop culture pedigree, including a yellow tracksuit as a not-so-subtle nod to the iconic Kill Bill outfit and accompanying Mexico 66 sneakers.

“The last collection was inspired by different kinds of sports, from ballet to rugby to soccer, mixing together,” Pompilio explains. These sports influences were added to Pompilio’s own background as a designer, and his focus on pret-a-porter. “This is our DNA, we cannot do evening chiffon dresses for women and tuxedos for men, because we’re coming from sportswear,” he explains of his design philosophy for the label, “We bring it up in a pret-a-porter way, but always from the sport we need to start.”

Although Pompilio’s apparel is heavily influenced by Onitsuka Tiger’s history, the brand’s sneaker-focused legacy gives him more leeway. “The main business is sneakers and the history is attached especially to the sneakers,” he explains, “the approach to apparel is different, you are a little bit more free than on sneakers. You can move a little bit more.”

Pompilio’s work for Onitsuka Tiger mixes the label’s sportswear heritage with his fashion background, but the designer is also keen to bring his own identity and ethos to the brand. The show notes for Spring/Summer 2019 spoke of the collection’s intention to celebrate love and relationships that transcend regional identities. “I’m born in Italy and I have my apartment in Milan, but I feel myself more part of the world and I think this is very interesting,” Pompilio answers when asked about the collection’s self-described international outlook, “I see this as a luxury thing. To me, to be international today is one of the most important things and I would like to give this message through my clothes. I want to see people all over the world dressing like this. I don’t care, for me that’s very important.”

Read Full Article

What to Read Next

Timberland Celebrate 45 Years of the Iconic Yellow Boot with Collaborative Campaign

Timberland Celebrate 45 Years of the Iconic Yellow Boot with Collaborative Campaign

Presented by Timberland
The original yellow boot.

adidas Originals by Alexander Wang Keeps Sporty Cool With FW18 Collection

adidas Originals by Alexander Wang Keeps Sporty Cool With FW18 Collection

Taking inspiration from re-purposing and re-contextualizing.

Jerry Lorenzo Officially Unveils Full Fear of God x Nike Collection

Jerry Lorenzo Officially Unveils Full Fear of God x Nike Collection

Complete with a basketball-inspired apparel range.

'Toy Story 4' Unveils First Teaser Trailer

'Toy Story 4' Unveils First Teaser Trailer

A glimpse at the returning franchise.

Streetsnaps: Comethazine in London

Streetsnaps: Comethazine in London

The North Face’s 1992 Nuptse jacket makes an appearance.

Soulland Celebrates Sustainability With New "Logic" Capsule

Soulland Celebrates Sustainability With New "Logic" Capsule

Consisting of updated basics produced from organic cotton.

More ▾
Subscribe to our Newsletter

Gain access to exclusive interviews with industry creatives, think pieces, trend forecasts, guides and more.

By subscribing, you agree to our Terms of Use and Privacy Policy.

Help us serve you better

We appreciate your support in allowing HYPEBEAST ads, where we can share contents from the latest fashion, to those culturally relevant. In adding HYPEBEAST to your ad blocker's whitelist, ads on our sites will show while you continue to browse.

Help Support Us

We need ads to keep the lights on and to continue providing free news to our readers. We’d appreciate your support by whitelisting HYPEBEAST on your ad blocker. That way you can keep reading all the great stories for free.

If you have already whitelisted us, simply refresh this page. To find out how to whitelist us, click the button below.


Add Us to Whitelist

We appreciate your support in allowing HYPEBEAST ads. Most ad blockers have similar whitelisting steps and settings. If you need assistance, please contact us.

Adblock Plus

  1. Click on the red ABP icon in the upper right corner of your browser.
  2. Click “Enabled on this site” to disable ad blocking for the current site. In Firefox click “disable on HYPEBEAST”.
  3. Refresh the HYPEBEAST page that you were viewing.


  1. Click the AdBlock hand icon.
  2. Click “Don’t run on pages on this domain”.
  3. A new “Don’t run AdBlock on…” dialog may be displayed in the middle of the screen.
  4. Move the “Site” slider to the right. After that, click “Exclude”.
  5. Refresh the HYPEBEAST page that you were viewing.


  1. Click the uBlock icon.
  2. Click the large blue “power” button in the menu that appears to whitelist the current website.
  3. Reload the HYPEBEAST page that you were viewing.

Firefox Browser

Firefox Tracking Protection may activate our whitelist notice, which can be disabled temporarily for a browsing session by clicking the shield icon in the URL bar and following the instructions.


  1. Click the Disconnect icon.
  2. Click “Whitelist site”.
  3. Refresh the HYPEBEAST page that you were viewing.