Hard Facts: Jon Tang of FRONTEER David Landry October 4, 2017 Familiarize Yourself, Fashion, Interviews, Lifestyle This is D3 The Concrete, bringing you fashion from the street. I am very excited to be posting this article today! A few weeks ago, I bought a pair of hiking boots from a company that I saw on FACEBOOK. The name of the company was FRONTEER & their products were so unique, I could not help but to purchase a pair of their Ahwahnee boots. They look like this: After purchasing the boots, I had an idea to reach out to the company and thank them for their customer service and for putting in that extra attention to the detail and quality control on their shoes. Not only did they respond to the email, but when I asked to interview their CEO/creative director, Jon Tang, FRONTEER did not hesitate and connected me with him posthaste. So, without any further delay, here is my first exclusive interview for Day & A Dream with Houston’s own, Jon Tang. (Writer’s Note: All shoe photos were provided by Jon Tang.) Italics: D3 // BOLD: Jon Tang Who are you? My name is Jon Tang and I’m the Founder and Creative Director of FRONTEER. In my research, I was happy to find out that you were a fellow native Houstonian. In what part of town did you grow up? Did you have any create ambitions as a youth? I grew up in the Cypress area of Houston which is Northwest Houston. I’ve always had an affinity for the arts as I was always a pencil drawer. I would win a lot of art competitions when I was little. Because of this, I knew I would always do something creative and would utilize my artistic ability to aid my career. I also noticed that you worked at two of my favorite shoe companies: PUMA & K-Swiss. While at PUMA, what were some of the shoes and products that you had the opportunity to work on as a graphic designer there? I actually started out as a graphic designer in marketing. I was designing flyers, logos, billboards, banner ads, and all kinds of random marketing needs. I switched over to footwear design and ended up staying in the product team cause I loved it so much. I first worked on the archive team where I would reissue old styles from the catalogs. They would be direct retros as well as modernized retros. Because of my personal passion for innovation, design, and storytelling I started to work on all the special projects and new innovations for lifestyle. I was really able to hone my skillset during this time by being able to do really conceptual storytelling. One of my favorite projects still is the Hypebeast x PUMA collaboration of the “Dim Sum Pack” with the pack of Blaze of Glory’s. While you were the Lead Footwear Designer at K-SWISS, what were some of the projects you had the opportunity to oversee while you were there? I got to really build a full sighted vision during the relaunch of K-Swiss. I got to really start from scratch and retell the brand in a new fresh kind of way. I worked on both men’s and women’s and built stories for the full year holistically that connected to an overall theme. I was able to also figure out which shoes to bring back from the archives and also got to work with Billy Reid on special versions of the original Surf N Turf. My favorite was being able to bring back the original 1966 Classic and have it even made in USA. I still feel such a level of honor to be able to have brought this iconic style back to life. In 2015, FRONTEER came into being. What were some of the strengths that you were able to incorporate into your brand ? Strong storytelling in not only product but also in marketing has always been a key strength for me in my career. Because I’ve been on both the marketing team and product development team, I’ve always approached FRONTEER with this double edged approach making sure everything is connected. What were some weaknesses that you saw in the sneaker industry, from which you were able to navigate. I saw a void in the outdoor footwear market. Basketball and running footwear has evolved over time to be very poetic and metaphorical in it’s product inspiration. I’ve enjoyed working on this type of storytelling for the categories I worked on in lifestyle sneakers. I wanted to do this with the outdoor footwear as I felt like the outdoor market has always been more function based. I noticed that all of the shoes listed on the website (FRONTEER.us) that all of the shoes are made in limited quantities. Tell us about why this decision was made. I don’t want to flood the market. I make just a small amount for my own costs really. I don’t have an investors and I can really only afford to make so many at certain times. How do you go about choosing the stockists that carry your products in their stores? Is the same attention to exclusivity paid to this, as is paid to the number of pairs of shoes that are carried on the FRONTEER website? I’ve been very honored to be adopted into the stockist that I have now. I respect and love each shop I’m in. I regularly shop at each shop already. I want FRONTEER to sit next to brands and styles that equally have the depth I put into brand. Exclusivity is key to a lot of these shops as I don’t want to have too many of the same styles near each other. I respect each shop’s own territory and presentation they want to give to their consumers. FRONTEER’s own website is also a place for the brand to show it’s true colors. However, I always incentivize anyone to shop on my stockists first as I always give them first priority on quantity. I’d rather have no pairs on the FRONTEER website and have more pairs with my stockists even though that would have me make less money. I had a tough decision to make between the Ahwahnee Hiker & the FRONTEER x Manastash Aqua Solo. Please tell us about how the collaboration with the Seattle born, Japanese transplant brand came to be. I’ve always loved Manastash as a brand. I used a lot of their lookbook images as inspiration when I was developing and building FRONTEER from the start. During one of the capsule tradeshows, the Manastash booth was placed right across from the FRONTEER booth. Over the next three days of the tradeshow, we bonded and built a mutual love and respect for each other. We thought immediately we should do a collaboration. Anything else down the pipeline that we can look forward to, such as outerwear, clothing, etc. that we can look forward to in the near future? FRONTEER is a brand about discovery. I hope there’s always something new to discover when anyone comes to FRONTEER. The next drops will be all inspired by the Park Ranger. I so excited about this as this will be a fusion story of both military and the outdoors. I’ve also got a few other collaborations coming that I wish I could share with you! Finally, for those aspiring designers of sneakers, clothing, and other products, what advice do you have for them? Build and make what you love. Know why you love it and show it. No one else can do or make what you love more than you. You have the answer to something no one else has. Just have to find it in yourself. Go to www.fronteer.us and support this brand! Great shoes, great quality, great people! Share this:TweetShare on Tumblr Leave a Reply Cancel Reply Your email address will not be published.CommentName* Email* Website Notify me of follow-up comments by email. Notify me of new posts by email.