SBTG, helmed by Mr Sabotage (Mark Ong), kicked off 2021 on a high note. Last week, he introduced a refreshed take on his 2018 Monsoon Patrol collaboration with Limited Edt and Asics, dubbed the “Monsoon Patrol 2”.
At the launch,we caught up with Mr Sabotage to discuss his latest Gel Lyte III collaboration sneaker and also took the chance to pick his brains on what’s to come this year. Here are some key takeaways.
1) Vintage is here to stay
“In this climate, people are interested in the details and nuances and they will celebrate a beat-up pair of Jordans just as much as denim lovers appreciate a pair of faded jeans. I’ve been waiting for this era for so long,” Mr Sabotage said.
He’s not wrong. Just scroll through any sneaker page, or the oracle of our time—Instagram, and you’ll see multiple posts of Air Diors customized to look distressed and outfits paired with dead-beat 1985 OG Air Jordan 1s, all in an effort to create a vintage aesthetic.
2) Everyone’s a designer
These days, according to Mr Sabotage, sneakerheads want to be involved in the process of creation—probably the reason why he has noticed more brands are offering tools or services that can help sneakerheads customize anything from their apparel to their sneakers. So whether it’s adding flare to Carhartt pants or accessorizing with laces on sneakers, consumers will continue to want more options.
3) Baggy pants make room for retro kicks
The popularity of ’90s-inspired outfits means the reemergence of looser cuts and baggier pants, heralding the return of chunkier, higher cut sneaker silhouettes.
“That little tweak of the flare, makes the jeans sit nicely on top of sneakers like the Air Jordan 1, which causes people to start buying all the Jordans they never got to wear, but love,” Mr Sabotage explained.
4) Yeezy come, Yeezy go
Every brand goes through cycles of popularity, and Mr Sabotage believes that the Yeezy is riding the tail end of the hype train. He cites its more frequent releases, and in larger quantities, constant restocks and plunging resale prices as some reasons for his belief.
“But there will be a time that Yeezys will become vintage and you will pull out a pair when no is expecting it and it will be seen as fresh again—things always come back.”
5) There’s a new sneaker game
The world’s biggest sneaker brands are jumping on the gaming bandwagon. Some examples: Adidas has an ongoing partnership with Ninja and Nike dropped a League of Legends inspired Air Jordan 1 in October last year. Mr Sabotage expects the relationship between sneaker culture and gaming will continue to deepen, he said, “People grow up as part of a culture and it will make its way into streetwear, and it will intertwine. It’s going to go big.”
6) Interactivity built into sneakers
Tech has blessed us with some noteworthy innovation like self-lacing sneakers and helped us authenticate them, so what could possibly be next? “I think next time you could scan your shoe, watch a video, play a game or connect with someone who is also wearing the same sneaker,” Mr Sabotage offered.
7) Midsoles are the focus
Brands will certainly continue to improve the construction of their sneakers in 2021 and beyond, but to truly make a mark, MR Sabotage says it’s the midsole that counts.
“From Jordan 11 in 1995 to Jordan 35 in 2020, the Zoom Air is so different. It’s clear companies are making small tweaks along the way. Even though it is the same technology, there’s always room for improvement,” Mr Sabotage explained.
He notes that midsole technology is where a shoe can truly make a difference to its wearer. A few of his current favorites, apart from the Nike Zoom Air, are the New Balance Encap midsole and the Asics Gel technology.
8) SBTG x Jeff Staple is going to be an annual affair
This may well be a Straatosphere exclusive! Fans of SBTG and Jeff Staple will be glad to know that both are looking to make their collaborative releases, like their Air Force 1, a yearly affair.
9) Embracing scarcity
The growing appreciation for Dunk and Air Jordans has made it harder for Mr Sabotage and his team to source sneakers for customization. Instead of fighting it, team SBTG is embracing it.
“Now when we drop our projects, we base it on how collectible it will be in twenty years,” Mr Sabotage explained.
10) Reward and release
Mr Sabotage is working on newer raffle programs and drop methods that reward his loyal customers and make the game fairer for everyone. To that end he has developed a raffle program that rewards individuals who purchase specific products, like masks, with a chance to purchase a highly anticipated release. Sometimes, they may even win a pair for free! The idea is to inject some fun back into buying sneakers and streetwear even though everything has moved online.
This interview has been edited and condensed.