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William Ong - Asphalt & Co. Founder Interview


Hapsari Listya
January 4, 2023

Basketball is the reason William @william_christopherrr dove into sneaker culture. He's a massive fan of some Japanese designers, such as Hiroki Nakamura, Nigo, and Yohji Yamamoto, as they're able to interpret, then reinterpret their design influences and make it entirely their own.

What was the moment you first got drawn to sneakers, and which pair of sneakers triggered your passion?

I have so many moments when I jumped into the world of "sneakers," but the common denominator always revolved around basketball. It was the gateway to experience all kinds of cultures, from music, art, fashion, design, and sneakers. It was the genesis of my love for footwear and footwear design.

While plenty of shoes caught my attention growing up, the one shoe that made me want to buy my first pair of "cool" sneakers probably had to have been the 'Black Grape' Jordan V from 2013. This pair is so beautiful and excited me about having that bold hit of violet and turquoise on the midsole that juxtaposed the subtle lux feeling of premium black nubuck on the uppers.

All images via @william_christopherrr

What’s one moment or trend in the history of sneaker culture that resonates with you?

Easily the 2015-2017 "BOOST" Era. It opened the floodgates to what people consider a "hype culture." The almost overnight success of that technology and the rabid fanbase it created was something I bet Adidas would've never expected.

Before that era, I had never been so exposed first handedly to such a craze. Yes, there was the Dunk era and the NIKE basketball era, a personal favorite of mine. But, to be right in the middle, seeing people obsess over Yeezys and Ultraboosts still boggle my mind to this day. It was insane.

What are some of the current pairs of sneakers in your rotation?

I've cut the collection down, so I've been wearing the same 3-4 sneakers plus a pair of Leather Derby.

Currently, it's been New Balance 990v3 'Grey Suede', AWAKE x ASICS Gel-Kayano 5-360 'Ferns', Air Max 90 'Infrareds', and a classic pair of Converse 70's 'Black/White.'

Please describe how it feels when you get and wear a new pair of kicks?

I thought the feeling would eventually wear out, but it has not. The best way to personally describe it is like going back to my 7-year-old self, writing to Santa about all the wrestling t-shirts and figurines I wanted, and waking up on Christmas Day to unbox presents and seeing them all there. It's such a nostalgic feeling, but instead of wrestling tees and figurines when I was 7, it's now me unboxing sneakers at 24. It hasn't changed at all.

As to wearing it, though, I'm the kind of guy to rip the stuffing out of the shoe and put them on straight away. It serves me no purpose loving a shoe inside a box, and I want to wear the damn thing!

What is one sneaker collaboration that doesn’t exist, but you wish/think should exist?

Easily a VISVIM x New Balance collaboration, specifically on a 1300 or 1500.

To combine two iconic and classic models from the New Balance catalog with the absolute artistry of Hiroki Nakamura's VISVIM? You can't beat it.

What are some of your favorite creators/designers or brands and why?

Hiroki Nakamura's VISVIM, NIGO's Humanmade, and Yohji Yamamoto's mainline.

I'm an absolute fan of these Japanese designers, not only because of the "cool clothes" they make but because of how they're able to interpret, then reinterpret their design influences and make it entirely their own.

VISVIM is almost like walking back in time to a world of the golden age of rockabilly 50's men's fashion but infused with modern Japanese influences. Hiroki Nakamura is a master at the craft, and his pure talent for taking his powers and making them inherently Japanese to me makes him one of my favorite designers of all time.

What is your ultimate holy grail sneaker that you have not managed to acquire so far?

There are quite a few that I would love to have, but the one that sticks out, and I've been thinking about it for a while now, is a pair of 1995 New Balance 1300 JP.

Un referred to as the "JP '' colorway at the time, it was a reintroduction of a long-gone model, but under the guidance of New Balance Japan. And with Japan's obsession with Americana, this pair resonates with me.

What are some of your daily essentials or treasured items besides kicks?

These are just a few of my daily essentials.

My necklaces and rings I picked up from one of my favorite vintage jewelers, minus the GUCCI ring, which was a gift.

Without my phone and laptop, I'd be in complete panic. I'm always on the go, and my line of work requires me to always have them on me. They allow me to jot down or draw out ideas quickly, which are essential in my daily life.

Next would be a camera of some sort. I love a disposable film camera as it's simple, easy to use, and a humble form of photography.

Lastly, a pair of black leather shoes. Whether my 1461 Black Monos from Doc Martens or my Sebago Loafers, a couple of black leather shoes will always be in my daily rotation since they go with all my outfits.

Where can people find you on social media?

Instagram: @william_christopherrr and @asphaltandco

TikTok: @william_christopherrr

An ailurophile who loves bake cookies and listen to indie music!