Sole Superior’s Jonathan Fong on sneaker culture and conscious community building

Singapore’s premier all-ages sneaker and streetwear convention, Sole Superior, returns for its tenth anniversary in partnership with Drip Singapore. After a two-year hiatus, attendees can expect an eclectic mix of global brands, local labels, artists, customizers, re-sellers and community groups; all while shopping for trendy limited edition apparel. Popspoken had the privilege of interviewing Sole Superior co-founder Jonathan Fong on his love for sneakers, the origin of his collaborations and the concept of community in a digital age.

Sole Superior x Saint Barkley sneaker design

From unboxing a fresh pair of sneakers, feeling the packaging, unwrapping the paper and sniffing that boxfresh scent, sneaker collecting has been a passion and hobby for Jonathan since his adolescent years. He explains the difference between want and need when it comes to sneaker collecting and the joy that comes with it. 

Sometimes, marketing and advertising will have us believe that we need something dropping this week only to tell us that there’s another need every other week. I believe it’s all up to the individual. Just buy whatever makes you happy, and with some experience and maturity, you should be able to discern wisely.

Leading up to Sole Superior 2022, Jonathan gathered merchandise collaborators from his friendships through the years. This year’s merchandise lineup has assembled the likes of Singaporean illustrator JL whom Jonathan met a few years ago while part of the Tell Your Children (TYC) creative studio team. JL’s original artwork has been adapted and commissioned as the event poster for Sole Superior 2022.

Sole Superior 2022 merchandise designed by JL & produced by YAUDS

Streetwear brand YAUDS founded by Yudha Cessar will also be participating with an allocated booth and an exclusive batch of t-shirts for keepsake for event attendees. A Saint Barkley sneaker collaboration which has been delayed for two years due to the pandemic will also be featured. The partnership was kickstarted due to a cross-border friendship between Jonathan and Ozom from rock band Rocket Rockers, who is a partner of Indonesian cult brand Saint Barkley, and a previous attendee of past editions of Sole Superior.

Sole Superior x Saint Barkley collection

“If you’re a sneakerhead you know that it is a dream come true to be able to have the opportunity to design your own sneaker and be able to tell a story behind the inspiration. To be able to see every detail materialise right down to the packaging is just pure joy and pride,” claims Jonathan.

When asked about the ideologies of community and its changing definition with the advent of social media and digitalisation, Jonathan believes in technology as a tool to facilitate or express passion, joy and even hate. As a father, he prefers for his children’s usage of digital platforms to be kept to a minimum but acknowledges the beauty of the technology in forging genuine connections with like-minded people over similar interest and tastes (eg. how Discord functions similarly to mIRC or MSN messenger back in the 90s).

“Community to me is people on the ground that share a common passion or love. Through this passion and love, interacting with others allows people to celebrate the thing that brings them together.”

In an era where netizens are spoiled with a myriad of activities, digital events and choices, Jonathan remains unfazed over the fluidity of fashion trends, which evolves or returns in cycles. He recognises that passions and interests wane. Sneakerheads may move on to a new fad, tribe or thing that excites them; while others stick around to see evolution and progress. Yet, interest levels towards sneaker and streetwear culture will remain as communities continue to develop, grow and evolve. 

Ticket holders of Sole Superior 2022 can expect to engage in activities such as bid placing on digital NFTs from Sole Superior’s first online gallery, interacting with independent vendors in the community marketplace, previewing a Sole Superior and Saint Barkley Shoes sneaker collection, winning lucky draw prizes and live entertainment by low tech electronic music collective Binary Chiptune.

N3M3515

Traversing underground genres such as Chipdoom, Chiptune, Industrial Dark Synth and Digital Punk Rock, Binary Chiptune will feature music acts SWITCHBLADES, Sludgefeast, Microchip Terror and N3M3515

Sole Superior 2022 runs from 1pm to 7pm on 26 November 2022 (Saturday) at Drip Singapore (100 Orchard Rd, Singapore 238840). Tickets are priced at $10 for Early Bird, $20 for sale on the event day and $30 for the event and after party that starts from 9pm to late. Tickets for Sole Superior 2022 are available here.

Read about more interesting events in our Events section.

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