This was every bit a whirlwind tour. We knew this would be a tremendous undertaking but what it finally turned into has been nothing short of amazing. It has taken a global effort into putting together each of the events in Houjie, Hong Kong and Tokyo and we couldn’t have been happier with how it all turned out.
I got into town New Year’s Eve and the entire city was anticipating Taboo’s arrival. We invited him to China to get involved first hand with the concept, design and production of his new shoe. It’s rare that an international superstar would make an appearance in a factory town so you can imagine the excitement brewing there. It also says quite a bit about Taboo as he really wanted to get hands on with the project and not simply be a face for it. He and his manager Ben finally arrived on the morning of the 4th and our hotel, the Hou Jie Haiyatt, was well prepared for his reception. We had all the staff from our China office as well as all the hotel’s staff ready for his arrival. When he got out of the car, the place exploded.
Taboo told me it was the grandest reception he’d ever received. Bigger than anything he’d ever had even with The Black Eyed Peas. We booked him at the Presidential Suite which was a sick duplex.
Johan Ku who has recently garnered huge glory for winning the GenArt Avant Garde designer of the year award was in tow to help with the design process.
Here he is with Mr. Long, one of the most powerful factory owners in Dong Guan. He told us he went out and spent $40,000 RMB (nearly $6000 USD) to get an outfit based on a picture of Taboo so that he could wear it with the shoes.
Doesn’t it look dope!? Just kidding. In the end, he was too shy to wear it with Taboo around. He did, however, invite us back to attend the grand opening of a hotel he’s opening. It wasn’t long before the fans made it up to the loft.
We figured he’d be hungry and we knew he liked his Teppanyaki, so we took him to it.
Straight after we went to the office. Tab wanted to work! We had to show him Uncle James’ shrine to Johnnie Walker. KEEP WORKING.
We took him to the showroom.
The material room.
Reviewed the development boards.
Even showed him Owen’s gym which is in the office.
From there we took him to one of the most eye opening moments of his trip: the factory. As a sneaker pimp and owner of over 600 pairs of shoes, this was a real trip for him.
He got to see his own shoes on the line.
Checking out the patterns.
Harry explaining to him all the 100 hands that touch a shoe before it reaches completion.
Now that he got an idea of what goes into make a shoe, he was ready to start concepting design and materials.
After some brainstorming we came up with some dope initial concepts and sketches. After that we had a press conference to go to. Keep in mind this is still the same day he landed. There were people from about 40 different media outlets, local and national.
It was quite a proud moment, not only for Taboo and JUMP but also for the city of Hou Jie. The truth is that our manufacturing city, Hou Jie, is one of the few cities in China where you are able to achieve a luxury caliber of quality in terms of material and design. Needless to say, it is an honor for JUMP to be the first Chinese maker of luxury sneakers.
All the press were highly interested in this point and Harry did a good job expounding upon it.
Taboo gave a few rather moving words about how much this collaboration means to him and how important it was for him to not only be the face of the brand but truly involved in all aspects from design to marketing to sales. For me, it’s a pure blessing to have a general like him fighting the battle with me. I kept reiterating that we couldn’t have found a better individual to partner with.
He told the story of how we met at Bloomingdale’s and how the whole thing happened very organically.
He must’ve signed 1000 autographs that day.
There’s Owen, Johan, Taboo, Larry and Herman.
Here’s Uncle James, Mr. Teng, Tab, Harry and Uncle Andy.
After a little time to rest, we were off to dinner at Susan’s Kitchen, renown in the city for the best Taiwanese cuisine. We invited all the press and our staff to join in the festivities.
The funniest thing was that all these girls were asking for autographs and they’d gone out and bought Black Eyed Peas CDs. Albums like The Best of the Black Eyed Peas, that don’t even exist anywhere outside of China.
And food from the gods. Lobster sashimi.
Of course you gotta kampai EVERYONE.
And everyone has to kampai you.
It was quite a night as you could imagine. The next day we went back to the office and finished up some designs. It’s going to be sicker than the last one. That afternoon, we got in a car and headed to HK. That night would be the HK event.
To be continued.