ANOTHER TENTACLE OF THE ATMOS EMPIRE IS THE SNEAKER BRAND KNOWN AS UBIQ, (NOT TO BE CONFUSED WITH THE US BASED STORE OF THE SAME NAME). AFTER SIX YEARS OF PROGRESS, UBIQ IS SLOWLY MAKING A MARK OUTSIDE JAPAN AS RETAILERS AND KIDS PICK UP ON THE NEAT STYLING AND VIBRANT COLOURS. WE CAUGHT UP WITH HOMMYO (OWNER OF ATMOS) AND KOSAKA, HEAD DESIGNER OF UBIQ TO ASKED THEM BOTH A FEW QUESTIONS…
How’s the scene in Tokyo these days?
kosaka: Diverse as always. Tokyo has an array of different subgroups all into different things. I think that the Tokyo style is a unique mixture of many different influences. Product wise, I feel that everyone is always looking for the newest thing to come out.
How long has ubiq been around for?
K: Ubiq’s first season came out in October of 2001. We spent roughly one year prior to this, in product development.
Where do you take most of your inspiration?
hommyo: When developing ideas, I talk with Kosaka, he is very creative and has many ideas for the Ubiq brand. An example of how everything around us inspires us, are the names of the different Ubiq models. Each name we derived from novels that we have read.
Ubiq has only just made its way outside Japan. Where do you see the brand going in the future?
K: We feel that many sneakerheads are bored with the current offerings in the market. With Ubiq, we are trying something different. We are trying to introduce our concept of a sneaker to a larger audience, particularly the US, Europe and Asian markets.
Ubiq product so far seems to be very exclusive, but your branding states “It’s everywhere”. what is the meaning behind this?
K: I hope that the brand will appeal to people all over the world, and anyone that appreciates quality and uniqueness.
h: We wanted to convey our wish to understand the identities of people all over the world, and to use those identities to inspire our own creations. We feel that by doing this, people who wear our brand will be united and we can create our own world peace.
The japanese seem to be faithful in supporting local labels, has that been the same case with ubiq footwear?
K: Right now, my main focus is on creating quality footwear, developing new concepts and styles. Ubiq is still developing in the Japanese market. We are still monitoring how the market is receiving our brand.
what’s been the response internationally?
h: The Japanese market is strong for us. However, every time you create a new style or model it is very expensive. The research and development, sampling, design, materials and sourcing etc. We want to increase sales, especially internationally, so that we have the resources to continue developing new styles. japanese product, whether it be sneakers, clothing or toys seems to be all the rage, especially in hong kong. Are you aware of this trend?
h: We do understand that Japanese culture has had an influence all over the world. However we do not know how long this trend will continue. In Japan, we have developing underground sub-cultures such as Akihabara (the electronic district) and Harajuku (the fashion district). We are not aware of other countries and whether they too will be influenced by aspects of Japanese culture in the future.
What japanese brands and products do you think are currently in highest demand internationally?
K: In high fashion, Commes des Garcon, in streetwear it is Neighbourhood, A Bathing Ape and Atmos.
What is the most popular shoe or brand at the moment with kids in tokyo?
K: Vans or Converse, I think that it is the simple, basic shoes that have the widest appeal.
h: Overall, I do not think that there is one brand that can claim being the most popular. In Tokyo people like to select a sneaker based on their own values and tastes, not just because of a brand. People appreciate the different specialties that are unique to different brands or models.
Collaborations are rife at the moment. what are your views on this trend?
K: Exactly, there is a lot of collaboration and it has become an accepted practice. I think it is one of the best ways to collect the diverse ideas of many different people.
h: Collaboration is good, but too much is not good. I believe in collaboration when it is part of the creative process. I guess the quality of the outcome depends on the designers. It’s very much a thing of case by case.
Any collaborations you are currently working on?
H: Yes. Several brands have asked Ubiq to do collaborations. However we first have to improve on our quality.
What are the most important elements in a shoe?
K: The silhouette and balance of the shoe. It is important to create high quality footwear that is both fashionable and original. Also quality and brand image. People do not wear the same style of shoes so it is important to create various styles to suit a variety of tastes.
What can we expect for coming seasons of ubiq?
K: I want to continue improving the quality of Ubiq products. I want the Ubiq product to be at a level that proves itself in the marketplace as being unique. I want customers to really love wearing and enjoying the quality of Ubiq shoes.
Interview by ben @ www.aptmnt.com