Onitsuka Tiger: A Fusion of Fashion

Japanese fashion brand Onitsuka Tiger presents a contemporary collection where fashion, sports and heritage meet innovation.

Andrea Pompilio

Back in June this year, Onitsuka Tiger introduced American singer, songwriter and actress Willow Smith as its latest brand ambassador. At the same time, the Japanese brand also introduced its fall/winter collection. To that end, Smith created a different take on Onitsuka Tiger’s brand universe while harmonizing its heritage and innovation with her unique identity. She expressed this fusion of pop art, fashion and sportswear dressed in a combination of patchwork and distinct materials.

The collection itself remains true to Onitsuka Tiger’s brand identity as it meets with modern and technical elements. Case in point would be a military jacket that combines quilting, nylon and other fabrics. There is also a down jacket which stands out with its technical elements that connects nylon with different textures and pop neon colors. To maintain a sporty vibe and a measure of elegance, various other materials were used, including a velour-like glossy nylon.

Touches of color in Onitsuka Tiger’s fall/winter 2020 collection

Andrea Pompilio—the Creative Director of Onitsuka Tiger who also got involved in the direction of the campaign—expressed that this seasonal collection was inspired “with awareness of what’s going on in our world today, the environment we live in, and the planet we have to care of. In this campaign we expressed Willow’s natural beauty and strength as well as her love for the earth which oozed from the bottom of her soul.” Smith then added: “I’m immediately connected with Onitsuka Tiger’s vision for their new campaign. I loved that we were able to align both of our energies and create something that promotes a positive existence in the world. I’m excited for the future of the brand.”

The collection also features items made in collaboration with NYC-based artist Brian Kenny. These include pants featuring number motifs evoking pop culture in patchwork and shoes mixing colorful materials. When these special pieces are coordinated with, say, the colour-blocked nylon puffer jacket from the collection, the resulting look adds a playful impression to what is an urban sporty style. Color wise, vivid hues such as neon and light green, darker ones like navy blue and black as well as key military tones become the main components this season’s palette. Blue and red claw stripes, which was utilized for the training wear in the 1970s, are also present in various sizes throughout the collection. This classic pattern showcases the spirit of Onitsuka Tiger that hasn’t changed for more than 70 years and blends really well with the brand’s contemporary styles, making it fresh yet timeless.

The limited edition sneaker created in collaboration with Valentino

Further expanding its fall/winter offerings, Onitsuka Tiger launched a limited-edition sneaker in collaboration with Valentino

The footwear highlights the combination of archival elements from the past and contemporary design. Particularly noteworthy pieces include the Dentigre Boot, which incorporates a classical boot design and a coat-type shoe upper of mixed different materials with its impactful sole, and also the Big Logo Trainer 2.0 MT, a hybrid of an upper inspired by vintage running-type shoes and the archival mid-cut sneakers and a modern sole.

Last but not least, further expanding its fall/winter offerings, Onitsuka Tiger launched a limited-edition sneaker in collaboration with Valentino. Presented together with the menswear collection at Paris Fashion Week, several color variations were presented such as the basic white together with bright neon hues including shocking orange, safety yellow and hot pink.

Onitsuka Tiger’s fall/winter 2020 collection
Onitsuka Tiger’s fall/winter 2020 collection

Pierpaolo Piccioli, the Creative Director of Valentino, reinterpreted Onitsuka Tiger’s iconic model MEXICO 66 SD. Valentino’s V logo, boldly designed on top of the Onitsuka Tiger Stripes on the outside of the upper, is each printed by hand. For the shoe tongue, a special label with the logos of both brands is used. The co-branded logos can also be found on the insole.

If anything, this special collaborative piece showcases fusion of fashion styles at its best. More importantly, however, it further reflects what Onitsuka Tiger brings to the world of fashion for fall/winter 2020. There is a strong nod to the brand’s long history and rich heritage, while at the same time being a celebration of its innovative spirit and—to once again quote Andrea Pompilio—a contemporary look at the world we live in.

Willow Smith