On an early Sunday morning recently, I waited at the hinted location – at the World Trade Center reconstruction site, for further instruction. The scene is straight from a spy novel – a brisk wintery day, a clandestine location, and enigmatic person of interest. A shorten text appeared on my phone, no name, no number, just a message “I’m at Flight Club”…
The person of interest I’m about to meet goes by one name only – Hue Vo. There is nothing striking about his appearance. In fact, you could easily passed by him on a crowded New York sidewalk. Then again, read enough spy thrillers and you know that a person of interest always appear unassuming till their secret is out. So why the secrecy? Why all the pretense? Perhaps it made better reading from yours truly, but it is also to strike a point – just how much we all know about the kicks we wear daily?
Raised around the greater Los Angeles area with a brief outing in France, Hue practically grew up with the street wear culture on the West Coast. He dealt with the likes of Fred Segal, the one time Blue Ribbon Project from Nike to the most recent PUMP 20 of Reebok, which promptly featured him on its video. Yet, there was no formal education or training on fashion merchandising or designs in his background. Or as he puts it,
“EIther you learn on the run or you’re out”. It was this rapid pace working environment, a double sided exposure to both retailing and designing, that honed Hue’s skill set in becoming the “go to person” when it comes to sneaker design. Throw him a theme and a model. He could come up with a finalized design within a few days, with several other preliminary designs to boot. However, it is not just about patching up colors and materials. Each comes with a story, a trail of inspirations, and technical specifications. In fact, push him a bit and he could easily tell you which production facility to use and the rough cost.
So when all was said and done, I asked him about all the secrecy surrounded him. Looked a bit a puzzled at first before with a reply “I guess it was professional courtesy to do so”. And with that kicked off our conversation with this person of interest, or better phrased as a designer of interest – Hue.