Interview with Earn Chen and Douglas Hart, The Salvages’ new sneaker “Manifesto” which has a special asymmetrical design, and amazing triple collaboration ”D.I.Y. shirts”

The Salvages, an emerging brand from Singapore releasing some great products at “TOKiON the STORE”. Since the launch of “TOKiON the STORE” in this year, we have already posted two interviews with the brand’s mastermind, Earn Chen, but new items have arrived one after another. In particular, the brand’s first sneaker is a provocative product called “Manifesto”, which is a symbolic expression of the brand’s independent and D.I.Y. stance. TOKION interview with Earn Chen about this great items’ back story.

Also from Douglas Hart, an original member of the UK band The Jesus and Mary Chain, which became an important motif in the collection this time, and who was involved in the collaboration item of Wemblex and The Salvages. Since leaving the band at the height of his popularity, he has been active on the front lines of the scene as a video director working on music video for many bands. Now It’s a very rare to have interview with him, so let’s get started.

Interview with Earn Chen (The Salvages Owner).

――You talked about sneakers at the time of the first interview, but please tell us again. What kind of interaction did you have with the sneaker craftsmen? Did the finished sneakers look exactly like you imagined?

Earn Chen (hereinafter Earn): I heard about this particular master shoe craftsman for a long time. I have been wearing his shoes for at least 15 years. I was finally introduced to him with the help of my good friend. It took a while before he agreed to make the shoes. Grateful that I was given this opportunity, I forgo everything else and put my heart and soul to work on this shoe full time for 10 months.

This shoe was designed by UK shoe designer Helen Kirkum and myself. We spoke about the idea of making this shoe for 2 years. Helen is very talented and was such a pleasure working with her. Designing a sneaker is really fun but to make them into production is a long process. The Manifesto sneaker consists of so many components and each side is different. So it was a big challenge for me to make it to production. Thanks to the patience and guidance of the craftsman, it turned out exactly the way we wanted.

――I think the appeal of your brand is its cultural design and, above all, It’s extraordinary attention to detail. What points are you particular about with these sneakers?

Earn: The sneaker is inspired by 80’s postmodern architecture movement called Deconstructionism. It is against rules such as “forms follow function”. The visual appearance is fragmented, unpredictable and controlled chaos. I believe this is the first production shoe in the world that is asymmetrical. Personally I feel the opposite attracts. Just like a good couple, they will have different personalities to make a good pair. Each side will compliment the other. I think the harmony and relationship will be better this way. The Manifesto shoe is made in the same spirit.

――Calfskin, suede, full grain leather, knits and meshes, tell us your intention to mix different materisals into this sneaker.

Earn: We wanted to reinterpret the materials by breaking down the usage of materials as we know by dissembling & reassembling to create new form.

――Sneakers industries are very hot in recent years, and major brands have released various collaborations. What made you decide to release sneakers in the first place?

Earn: It was my passion for sneakers and the D.I.Y. attitude towards it.

――What type of fashion would you like us to coordinate this sneaker with?

Earn: Fashion is a form of self-expression, so I think that anybody that has developed his/her own style will carry off the Manifesto very well, together with their attitude and their way of life.

――Who came up with the idea for making Bobby’s polka dot shirt?

Earn: Barnzley and I spoke a lot about the ultimate polka dot shirt, We agreed the most iconic polka dot shirt is the one Bobby Gillespie wore on Sonic Flower Groove album. So we decided to make it.

――If you have any items that you haven’t made before, like making sneakers from scratch, please let us know.

Earn: I want to make things that are purposeful. Firstly I have to think of the purpose, then the product and designs later.

Earn Chen
Having founded many institutions, from Ambush store, Surrender store to Potato Head Singapore, Earn was at the frontline of introducing and raising the awareness of street fashion / youth culture to South East Asia in the 90s.Currently He runs his own label The Salvages with partner and designer Nicolette Yip.The Salvages has since gained a cult following with their sold-out pieces and designs rooted in Earn and Nicolette’s love for alternative culture.

Interview with Douglas Hart.

――First of all, the news that Japanese fans have been surprised by recently is their p me know about your recent situation. How did you spend your lockdown period?

Douglas Hart (hereinafter Douglas): I spent the first month watching movies …films by Elio Petri “The Working Class Goes to Heaven“”Todo Modo” etc, and Stefan Uher “The sun In a net“ and “The miraculous virgin”. Also watched the the full two series”s of “Budgie”, a TV show from the 70s. After that first month i was busy making films.

――Did you know about The Salvages and Earn before you make products?

Douglas: First heard of him from Barnzley and started project.

――The Salvages collection “CHOICE OF THE LAST GENERATION” is inspired by the early days of The Jesus and Mary Chain. I would like you to recall that time, but first of all, please tell us how you joined The Jesus and Mary Chain.

Douglas: I met Jim and William in our hometown, East Kilbride when I was still at school. We were the only people who were into 60s garage music, punk rock and 60s girl groups. There really was fuck all to do in East Kilbride except to take psychedelic mushrooms and listen to music …and later to play music. I found the Jesus Pepsi T-shirts in a Christian fundamentalist storefront church in London. I started wearing it on stage, and later we made them to sell on tour.

――About ‘D.I.Y.’ black shirts, it is a collaboration between you and Wemblex. How did this collaboration begin and what exactly did you do? Please tell us your favorite points of items.

Douglas: Barnzley and me are the same age, and our lives were totally transformed at 12 years old by punk rock. Punk rock brought music and creativity into our lives in a way that no art school could have. We both started to remake/remodel clothes then … before we were even teenagers. I’ve always loved what Barnzley clothing creations … so to collaborate with him on these shirts made total sense … it was a perfect fit, because making these shirts is totally in the spirit of the remaking of clothes we began in 1977. We wanted each shirt to be unique in terms of shade of grey, in terms of stitching and buttons. In the Mary Chain, we could never find good black shirts, so we had to find a white shirt we liked and dye it black.

――Who was in control of the band’s visual concept at the time? Who was the most fashionable among the members?

Douglas: In terms of the visual concept in those early days, we all were involved in taking photos, making collages for the sleeves etc. Same with the t shirts. We all loved clothes in the band. We were all very aware that a band had to look like a band. That we all had to dress in a similar vein.

――What do you think is the attraction of The Jesus and Mary Chain that still attracts young people?

Douglas: We made great records, wrote great songs, dressed well and were all good looking …whats not to love!?

――You started Steve Mackey from PULP and Call This Number in 2016. It seems that the miu miu collection has also been filmed in the last few years. Please tell us about this project.

Douglas: Call this number was an underground video and music project started by me, Steve Mackey and the one and only Jeannette Lee ( acme attractions. P.I.L, and rough trade records ). We shot everything on analog video cameras, and processed the images thru analog video effects mixers. It was very much inspired by San Francisco’s Target Video and the cable music shows in New York in the late 70s / early 80s.

――Reading your filmography, the works of big names such as My Bloody Valentine,The Stone Roses, and Babyshambles are wonderful, but personally I was impressed to know that I was directing the works of Ocean Color Scene ( Especially “The Day We Caught The Train” !!!). It’s a masterpiece of my youth! Please tell us if you have a particularly impressive video in your career.

Douglas: Its hard to pick a favorite, stand out video …but a video i made recently is one i think i’m most pleased with – “I’ll be the death of you” by I Break Horses.

――While you were involved in many music videos as a video director, your music activities were slow paced. Last year, a cassette tape containing the solo EPs “X Film plus Ultra” and “Let’s Form A Cell” was released, and I was happy to discover the feeling of being familiar with The Jesus and Mary Chain. What is the position of music activity for you now?

Douglas: I’m so busy making films, It’s hard for me to take the time to make music. But i do plan to make an album at some point .

――What is your impression of Tokyo? When did you come to Tokyo these days?

Douglas: I love Tokyo, but I haven’t been there since 1991 when i played there with the Jesus and Mary Chain. I’m sure it has changed a lot!? I would love to go back soon.

Daglas Hart
Born in 1961, from Glasgow. An early bassist of The Jesus and Mary Chain, now known as a video creator who works on mainly music videos.”Call This Number” co-operated with Steve McKay and Jeannette Lee, his work not only about music but also fashion industry.

Text Gikyo Nakamura
Interpretor Miho Haraguchi
Edit Sumire Taya


Gikyo Nakamura

Witer.After working as a sales clerk at the import record shop JET SET and a manager in the production department, now a member of Lada Productions. While working on various artists' production and label business, there are a few miscellaneous articles about pop music. The hobby is watching F1.