In recent years, Onitsuka Tiger has managed to shift its image from an athletics brand with a focus on footwear and accessories to a fashion-forward label that’s worthy of high-end runways. This is all thanks to the vision and adaptability of its Creative Director, Andrea Pompilio, who came on board in 2017, taking the brand to new frontiers in the global style industry. Prior to that, however, Pompilio was no stranger to the label. As an Italian designer who had set up his eponymous brand based in Milan, Italy, he had collaborated with Onitsuka Tiger in capsule collections on multiple occasions since 2013, and over the past five years, had gradually changed the public awareness of the brand.
In a perfect marriage of East meets West, Pompilio took the Japanese brand to Milan Fashion Week for the first time in March 2021 to showcase its Fall/Winter ‘21 offerings and that set the tone for the collections to come. From pinstripe suits to floral print puffers and structured bombers, it was during that season that the label further cemented its cool and contemporary approach to fashion. In a little over a year, Onitsuka Tiger returned to the Milan runway to present its Spring/Summer ‘23 collection at Via Valtellina 5 and I was there to witness first-hand the beauty of the show.
All in the details
On a chilly Wednesday night, held in a dimly-lit bare warehouse with steel benches lining one side of the room, Onitsuka Tiger presented a no-frills approach to the runway. Undistracted by anything else in the show space, all attention turned to models as they walked out one by one down the long stretch of the walkway.
Upon first look at the collection, I noticed a theme of monotony in colours. The first few looks were stark white, interspersed with bright green, black and yellow ensembles. However, zooming in on the outfits, I realised that the details are what defines each look. Building upon the label’s active heritage, the collection comprises luxurious, sporty-meets-polished pieces that include oversized T-shirts, deluxe tracksuits, multi-layered shirts, drawstring trousers that create gathered ruffles, flowing capes, micro shorts, and utility vests made from nylon, all highlighting the particularity of Japanese craftsmanship. My favourite ensemble was a simple black tracksuit, cinched chicly at the waist—understated yet stylish enough for work and play. Several looks saw special headphones by Bang & Olufsen hanging casually around the model’s necks. Meanwhile, accessories and shoes in crisp white, sleek black and canary yellow, following the colours of each outfit, added to the refined aesthetic of the collection.
The event saw several international celebrities such as Yugyeom of South Korean boy band GOT7, singer and actor Tomohisa Yamashita of Japan and Baifern Pimchanok Luevisadpaibul of Thailand, along with many other global influencers, proving that the label has just what it takes to attract superstar attention. The show culminated with a surprise performance by American rapper, Kyle, who was dressed in a bright yellow tracksuit by the brand.
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