THE URBAN ISLANDER CHAT
THE DAWN OF THE IDEA

Mark: Before the pandemic, Mandeep and myself always made an effort to catch up over drinks. Mandeep would always try to pick my brain on my opinions on things, what I’m up to and what I want to do next.
We like to consider ourselves patriots; always wanting to do something that reflects our nation and culture. I knew I wanted to do something that is a ‘rojak’ -a colloquial Malay term for an eclectic mix- of both the urban city vibe and the tropical island vibe that is Singapore. Mandeep loved it the idea and that sparked the “Urban Islander” theme.

Mandeep: Yes, everything we both have done has Singapore in mind. For this idea, I loved what Mark had done with some Hawaiian shirts he had done and wanted to see how we can translate that onto a shoe. That shoe actually started out to be the New Balance 850. The project even reached the sampling stage and the 850 came out very well. But when we saw the new 327 model, both Mark and I fell in love with it immediately. We actually delayed this project just for the 327 model and I think we made the right decision.

Mark: And knowing that New Balance is a technical sandal, the 900, we felt that New Balance was a great fit for the “Urban Islander” concept.

Mandeep: Neither of us have worked on a sandal before, we thought this concept was perfect to work on it - the beauty of our friendship is that we always push ourselves to do new things.
I knew I wanted to do something that is a ‘rojak’ of both the urban city vibe and the tropical island vibe that is Singapore
THE URBAN ISLANDER

Mark: The Urban Islander is an emotion that describes Singapore. It is not only just a mix of an urban metropolis and a tropical island but a celebration of that ‘rojak’ of culture, language, lifestyle of Singapore. It is what we think we are.
Mandeep: The journey of the Urban Islander is this - you can wear the 327 shoes at the office, change out into your Hawaiian shirt then just take a 30-minute train ride to a beach, slip on the sandals, lay the towel on the sand and enjoy life.

Mark: Singapore is like a young New York City – a melting pot of different people and its many cultures. The Urban Islander is our way of saying this is what Singapore’s melting pot looks like as a collection.
THE NEW BALANCE 327
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Mandeep: For me, the 327 had that sleek, runner, retro feeling that I got. It looked old school but modern at the same time.

Mark: Yes, that ‘contemporary retro’ look.

Mandeep
: Exactly. The shoe’s availability to do that mismatch panelling was interesting for me.

Mark
: The 327’s distinct split side was perfect to play with – to play with different patterns the same way I design my Hawaiian shirts. What I really love of the 327 is that from the top view, it has that very angular silhouette. How the shoe looks on feet when you are looking down at it is very important for me.
The New Balance 900 sandal

Mark: A little background, we got introduced to the 900 sandal by Arthur, who was the director of New Balance Singapore before he got promoted to head New Balance in Greater China. The 900 was his project, so we both were well versed with this model. The 900 was really perfect for that islander laidback vibe of the concept.

Mandeep: Yes, the technology in the 900 made it a no-brainer when it comes to adding it into the collection. The technical aspects like the Boa® Fit System and the New Balance Ground Contact foam are the highlights. It is not just another sandal to me.

Mark: Actually, haha, I think I got drawn to the 900 because of my wife, Sue-Anne. She saw it at a New Balance event previously and she loved it, so much so, I think I designed the sandal with her in mind.
THE REST OF THE COLLECTION

Mark: While the New Balance models are the definite hero items of the collection, the Hawaiian shirts, tote bag and towels help tell a broader story of the ‘Urban Islander’. The bag has pockets on both sides for each side of the shoe or sandal. I love the fact that the towels are microfiber, making it very lightweight and packable.

Mandeep: Like what Mark said, the New Balance 327 and the 900 are the highlights of the collection, and the rest in the collection help compliment and help tell the story. Still, they are great as individual pieces by themselves. I see myself wearing this Hawaiian shirt paring it with something else, you know.
THE DESIGN

Mark: I’ve always loved the contrast in different elements. I always believed elements from different spectrums come together and it forms an ‘in-between’ feeling that is hard to explain and an emotion hard to emote. For the 327, I’ve chosen to use hairy suede and a crinkle nylon material. I want to go the opposite of that “finished” look and a raw feeling. As for the different panelling on each side of the shoe, I never felt that sneakers have to be the same on both sides. You can look at a person wearing the shoe from the left side and think he or she is wearing a different shoe on the right.

I love the duality of things and I think that is my Gemini side of me – there’s always two side to everything.

The Grenade Pineapple print comes from the concept of camouflage, much like my logo. If you look at my logo, it’s uses the Arabic script, but it reads “SBTG” left to right. I don’t like a literal design where it’s easy to read. I use that same approach to a tropical fruit like the pineapple for this collection but it’s actually a grenade. A fun play of elements. Duality comes into play again.
THE COP

Mandeep: There are a few places to get your hands on the collection. We have a concept pop-up at Limited Edt’s new lifestyle concept store, CHAMBER at Wisma Atria from 15 October - definitely check that out. It will be also available online at limitededt.com and definitely at Mark’s sbtgsurplus.com at the same date.
It is actually a Singapore exclusive release but some of our friends in the region will carry small quantities.