VANS - SKATE HALF CAB BY ELIJAH BERLE COLLECTION

The Hongo brothers were selected for the first colorway of the new model Metric by DC. They talk about the just-released shared part and the story behind their historic accomplishment.
──HONGO BROTHERS / SHINTARO & MASAKI (ENGLISH)

2022.10.20

[ JAPANESE / ENGLISH ]

Photos_Mike Heikkila
Special thanks_DC Japan

VHSMAG (V): How did your colorway come about?

Shintaro Hongo (S): Jimmy Astleford, the team manager at DC, contacted me and said he wanted to do the first colorway of a new model called Metric with me and my brother Masaki. I was like, "Of course!" I Obviously I didn't have a reason to say no (laughs).

Masaki Hongo (M): I went to the US by myself and I was skatng at the Encinitas park in San Diego. Jimmy and John Gardner gave me a sample of black Metric shoes to test it out. That's how we came to make the brothers' shoes... I was in the US and Shintaro was in Japan, so we weren't together. So we were offered each other separately.

S: Yeah, that's right. We couldn't discuss the details since we weren't together. I remember we both had colors that we wanted to use, and we sent each other ideas.

M: And I was on tour with SK8MAFIA and they were letting me stay in the homie's backyard. I borrowed our filmer's computer and played with colors.

V: How did you end up deciding on the color and design?

S&M: Wel... (laughs).

S: I wanted to use bold colors because it probably would be the first and last shoe as brothers. And for no reason at all, I came up with blue and yellow. At first, Masaki was like, "Oh... I don't know about this... (laughs)"

M: I wanted to do our local park Umikaze Park color, which is blue as the main color with a white gradation.

S: There was also the idea of red and white, which are colors of the Japanese flag. But this time, I was the one who pushed hard to convince him to use blue and yellow (laughs).

M: I completely gave up.

V: But rumor has it that the colors are derived from the fact that trains on the Yokosuka Line are blue and yellow.

S: That was told to us later by someone.

M: We had no idea (laughs).

S: And one of our friends said, "That's the same color as the sticker of your father's paint shop." The Happy Paint sticker that my father had was blue with yellow letters.

M: When I was thinking about it, the color of the early stickers of dOUBLE fAITH, a skate shop in Yokosuka, is also the same.

S: Maybe I subconsciously had blue and yellow in mind.

V: I see. So for the color, Masaki compromised and gave respect to the older brother (laughs). The family crest on the heel is also distinctive.

S: When I talked to Brandon Turner about that shoe, he gave me the idea, "Why don't you put in a family symbol?" So I asked my dad to send me the family crest and DC used it.

V: By the way, the "HONGO BROS" logo on the tongue was designed by Shintaro, right?

S: Yeah. At the time, I was making letters of all the alphabet in my own handwriting. When I sent a copy of HONGO BROS written in those letters, the response was surprisingly positive, and they decided to use it.

V: From the younger brother's point of view, didn't you ever think, "Why does Shintaro get to decide everything?"

M: yeah, I was thinking that. But since both of us are working on one shoe, it would be difficult to incorporate both opinions equally. I couldn't come up with the "HONGO BROS" design or anything. But Shintaro was thinking about it. So he got to decide everything and got the credit (laughs). I really like the shoe.

S: But before I saw the actual product, Jimmy sent me a picture. When I first saw it, I was like, "Oh shit! I might have fucked up (laughs)!" The colors felt so flashy. But when I actually saw them and tried them on, they felt surprisingly comfortable. They are light and soft, and not too bulky. They feel really good.

M: As far as the color goes, it has gray in it. When you put them on and look at them from above, they don't look flashy. When I first saw the image, I did think "Oh no..."

S: Yeah, I was like, "Sorry Masaki (laughs)!"

 

V: That's funny. So you guys had a promo video for the shoe.

M: That was like a commercial. It would have been best if we could have released our video part at the same time the shoe was released, but I still wanted to film. That's why we had to postpone the release of the part, but you were pretty much done filming by then, right?

S: Yeah, I had been filming for quite a long time.

V: So the whole thing was filmed in SF?

S: Yeah. It was filmed by Zach Chamberlin in SF. It was the first time Zach, DC, and I had worked together.

M: Zach showed me to a lot of spots. He took me around to all kinds of places. Zach was like, "There are more spots! Let's go out at night!" But it seemed that John Gardner wanted to go home (laughs).

V: You guys are brothers and there were many synchronized clips. Wasn't that difficult?

S: No, they wanted those kinds of clips so it was like we both talked about it on the spot and did it.

M: We've always played around like that so it's not that difficult. It's completely natural.

V: Besides synchronized clips, you both did kind of like mirror lines. Blunt on a ledge and then 180 heelflip at stairs.

S: Maasaki was trying that one at first. I also wanted a clip at that spot, but I couldn't come up with a good idea. So I tried to match his line.

 





V: By the way, did you guys ever get in a fight during the project?

M: During filming, it never happened at all, but there were times when we clashed in private and got into fights.

S: It's because of stupid things, though. When we used to live together, it was only a 5 minute push from my house to Umikaze park, and we would get into a fight on the way.

M: Well, on the way to Umikaze, I was pushing with headphones on and Shintaro saw me almost get hit by a car. He told me to stop because it was really dangerous. For some reason I got so pissed off that I splashed the water I was drinking on him.

S: We were fighting and it got pretty messy. Then a stranger came running to stop us (laughs).

M: And he sees our faces and goes, "What, you guys are brothers?"

V: You can tell you guys are brothers as soon as you see your faces (laughs).

M: When we're in the US for filming, we're in the same room all the time, so I was often told what to do and what not to do. He's like, "Why are you like this?" We went to the US for a month to film the promo video for this project, and the day before we left, he told me to leave the house after the trip (laughs). I was told that, and we had to fly to California together...

S: Well, I was pretty stressed out and hadn't spoken to him in about a week. I was just ignoring him. I didn't want him to leave right away, so I thought he would have time to think things over while he was away from home for a month.

V: And you guys went to California together like that?

S: I felt better. I wasn't stressed out after that.

M: But I was like, "Oh no! What am I going to do now?" Then I came back to Japan and really left home. At first, I stayed at a friend's house and went back to my parent's house while looking for an apartment. I had just turned 18, and that was when the age of adulthood was lowered.

S: Until then, we had always lived together. I thought that it was time for him to take responsibility and handle things on his own. You know, be away from mom and dad, and also his older brother. After all, Masaki can do it if he tries.

M: It's good now. We get together when we skate and we have each other's private life. Everything worked out.

 

Only brothers can make a part like this.

V: Let's talk about the shared part. What was the filming like?

M: In the US, we filmed together, but in Japan, we filmed separately.

V: Did you both know what kind of clips the other was getting?

S: I shared the clips I filmed in Japan with Masaki. I didn't have the clips from the US so he didn't know about those.

V: Were there any rivalry since it's a shared part?

S: No, I wasn't really thinking about it. I had a lot of clips that I had already filmed and I felt like all I have to do was combine them.

M: I didn't know what the parts would look like because it was up to Chris Ray. I didn't know if the clips were going to be used separately or going to be mixed.

S: We just sent everything we had and had him do his magic.

V: How did you feel when you saw your shared part?

S: Well, our clips were mixed so I thought people might think it's all the same person. Like, "Which one's which?" But I thought that would make people watch it over and over again.

M: I would have preferred that our clips were used separately. I don't really like it when people don't know which is which. You know, I want people to recognize who I am (laughs). But only brothers can make a part like this. In that sense, I think it's really good.

V: The silhouette is similar but the skate style is totally different. Skaters will know which is which. As for the last trick, it's also up to Chris Ray who edits the video. Were you conscious of which one would get the last trick?

S: Hmmm... I saw that one coming (laughs). How was it for you, Masaki?

M: I was like, "Noooo! Really!?"

S: I kind of knew that would be the last trick (laughs). Since that clip hadn't been released and it was used in Thrasher's contents, I thought it would be the last trick. But it's not like that last trick is the best one in the part. There were so many good ones. Masaki killed it too.

V: When you think about each other's clips, which one stands out?

M: That last trick is gnarly. He takes his hat off and goes, "Woooow."

S: Brandon showed me that spot. He told me that the spot has been there for a long time, but no one has touched it. So I looked at the spot and I was like, "Oh I don't know about this... (laughs)" But I thought if I really went for it, I might be able to do it. So I tried later but I kept ollieing over the rail and running away. I got really stressed out and threw the board on the ground. I don't usually do that. Then my shoulder popped out... (laughs).

V: What!?

S: I was on the ground dealing with the pain and everyone was like, "Don't worry. Shit happens." But they didn't know my shoulder was dislocated (laughs). So I went back and tried again a week later. I couldn't do it again for a long time, but once I really went for it, it just flowed and I was able to make it. No slam. So I took off my hat...

V: Pretty emotional (laughs). So, from the older brother to the younger brother, which of Masaki's clips did you like?

S: Bs 5-0 to Ss Crooks fakie manny 180 out. I wanted to do that ledge trick so bad. And then he went over the top with a manual, so I was like, "Oh, he did it."

M: That ledge has rounded edge, so it was easy to do that trick. I tried for almost an hour, and many times I thought, "I really can't do this," and drank 2 liters of water... Then I finally got it. I almost gave up. By the way, that is the most recent clip from this part.

V: What do you think now, looking back on the part?

M: Well, I wish I had more hammers. None of the stair clips were used. I can skate stairs and handrails too. Next time I'd like to have those in my part.

S: This part was about 3.5 minutes long, and we had about 6 minutes of unused footage. Maybe they're keeping it for other projects.

V: You got your colorway, promo video and a shared part. You realize this is quite an accomplishment, right?

S: When you say so, I guess I realize it...

M: But I haven't made a single video part, and yet I was offered the shoe... I think it's common sense that to receive a shoe offer, you need to have a good amount of parts already... I'm super happy, but I also think to myself, "I still have a long way to go. Maybe the offer came too soon." So I hope I can consider this as a start. I want to give my best and keep making good video parts.

S: But you have the SK8MAFIA part coming up so I'm sure people will know.

M: By the way, I went to give the shoes to my grandpa and grandma. They told me that they'll place it on a home shrine (laughs).

S: Yeah, like the color of my dad's paint shop sticker and the family crest. I think I was able to give a little something back to my family.

V: Okay. Let's wrap this up by saying a few words to each other, shall we?

M: Really (laughs)? Well... I would like to work more on my own, go to various places, gain more experiences, and then work together with you again.

S: I'm getting really good influence from you. Please keep up the good work (handshake).

 

Shintaro Hongo @shintaro_hongo
Masaki Hongo @masakihongo_

Born in Kanagawa. The most powerful brothers known as two of the Four Kings of Yokosuka. They're starting to get worldwide recognition with their creativity and technicality.

 

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