Hiroshi Fujiwara and Jeff Staple rock GRs, tease upcoming drops

Hiroshi Fujiwara and Jeff Staple rock GRs, tease upcoming drops

At Sneaker Con SEA 2024, we sat down with Hiroshi Fujiwara, widely considered the “Godfather of Streetwear”, and Jeff Staple. They tell us why GRs are the way moving forward and even hint at potential collaborations coming up in 2024.

Hiroshi Fujiwara Jeff Staple interviewDarrellgraphy

This past weekend, Sneaker Con SEA 2024 brought two of sneaker culture’s most notable icons – Hiroshi Fujiwara and Jeff Staple – to Singapore’s shores. Both have contributed significantly to the making of collaboration culture. Fujiwara’s Air Jordan 1 ‘Fragment’ (released 2014) continues to be one of the most coveted sneakers with resale prices hitting over US$3,000 a pair while the release of Staple’s Nike SB Dunk ‘Staple NYC Pigeon’ in 2005 shut down the city with massive queues that turned into a riot. 

In this exclusive interview, we discussed the emergence of innovation-focused footwear brands, why Staple only wears GRs, why Hiroshi is a fan of Nike By You and collaborations that defined 2023 and noteworthy ones in 2024. 

To kick things off, what sneakers did you bring to Sneaker Con SEA?

Hiroshi: I didn’t bring any, I just wore these Converse. (Fragment x Moncler x Converse Jack Purcell)

Jeff: I brought the Norda 001 and a Nike basketball shoe called Cosmic Unity 3. From now on, I’m only wearing general releases and sneakers that you could buy on sale – marked down and reduced prices.

Scroll to continue with content

Why shift away from collaboration?

Jeff: I think collaborations used to be really unique. Like, if you wore a special collaboration, you’re like the only one in the room wearing one. But now, everybody in the room is wearing a collaboration. So maybe it’s more unique to wear something that’s on sale and discounted.

What do you think about newer brands like Solomon, Hoka and Norda coming into the scene? They’re making huge waves with their GRs. 

Hiroshi: I think Hoka is kind of new and interesting. I mean, they make good shoes and cater to what people want.

Jeff: And I think competition breeds innovation. So if there’s only one winner, it gets boring for everybody, even for the winner. I think when a new brand comes up, everybody feels the need to be better. We have to improve and it makes everybody improve. 

Do you prefer retros or newer innovative silhouettes? What’s in your current rotation?

Jeff: There are seven days in a week. For me, three sneakers are retro and four are newer models to make up for the week.

Hiroshi: For me, it’s like 70% retro, such as Dunks or Converse, and maybe 30% are new running shoes.

Jeff: I don’t work for Nike so I can wear any brand. I have shoes from Brooks, Crocs, Visvim, Norda and Salomon. There’s also a new one that I love right now, which is the Nike Footscape Woven. Nike is going all out with them, having cow and giraffe prints. It reminds me of the early 2000s when they first released it.


Hiroshi Fujiwara (left) wearing the Converse Jack Purcell and Jeff Staple (right) wearing the Nike Cosmic Unity 3.

What’s your take on the trend of leaning towards GR models and technical runners?

Jeff: I think the hype for basketball shoes is dead. I recently saw a video on a sneaker blog, where they handed this girl the Kevin Durant shoe, KD IV Galaxy. And she commented that this is like a dad shoe. A performance basketball shoe is now considered a dad shoe!  When we were growing up, that was New Balance as it was what our parents wore. And now New Balance is the coolest shoe for a young person, which I thought was weird. I guess that’s the case because I’m old and I’m wearing a performance basketball shoe.

Hiroshi: We’re going so fast. I remember like three years ago when young kids and everyone else said that Levi’s was dad jeans. But now Levi’s is cool again.

Jeff: It’s so fast. Also, if you look at the whole world, something that’s cool in one part of the world might not be in another part of the world. It’s not a circle, but rather a figure 8. We are going all over the place.

How can a brand like Nike, which has been at the top, stand out from this new competition?

Hiroshi: I mean, I just wear Nike because I work for Nike. But simply, I am picking up whatever I like and I still play with Nike By You, or as it used to be called, NikeID. I design something almost every month. Just for fun, just for myself.

You had posted a photo of a Nike By You Air Force 1 with an unusual combination of white laces and eyelets with an all-black base. What made it worth ordering? 

Hiroshi: You can do something special with Nike ID but you can still find something interesting in the general market. That’s what I am like from the beginning. I am good at finding sneakers that exist online or in shopping malls that most people can miss.

Jeff: But what do you use Nike By You when you can just call Nike and say, ‘I want to make this shoe?’ 

Hiroshi: Yes, but I have to choose between one month or two years.  

Do you think there’s any one particular sneaker collaborator that’s coming out on top right now? 

Hiroshi: I don’t follow much. I don’t care about design or brand. I like what I like and I always pick something that I like.

Jeff: I like what Salehe Bembury is doing a lot. I don’t always like the design, but I like the spirit of it—especially his collaborations with Crocs and New Balance. I liked the way he does storytelling and markets his designs. 

What tends to catch your eye, or rather what qualifies as a good design? 

Hiroshi: I don’t really know. I’ll visit a store if I see something that I deem good, I‘ll buy it. This is not only applicable to fashion or sneakers, but art as well. I’m not a fan of meeting the artists. I just like the product or the painting. I don’t need to meet the painters. 

Jeff: What happens when you meet the artist or the original person? Do you feel like it changes?

Hiroshi: Yeah, maybe, it could.

Jeff: They say don’t meet your heroes. 

To close the interview, was there a big moment from 2023 that cemented the year for you? 

Jeff: I came up with a book last year. My first book was Rizzoli. Oh, yeah, it’s a full-circle moment. Because in Hiroshi’s first book, he asked me to write the foreword for the book. And then that’s how I met the editor of the book, who then invited me to make my book. Well, he wrote and even submitted a text for my book too.

Hiroshi: It was a quiet year for me. Wait for this year. I have sneakers coming from Nike. I cannot say much.

In-article images: Instagram/ @darrellgraphy

Subscribe to our Newsletter

We’ll pull up to your inbox weekly with the hottest news, style guides, drops and leaks