Film enthusiast settles for walking a different road

PUBLISHED : Friday, 28 May, 2010, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 28 May, 2010, 12:00am

Former banker Collin Thompson came to Hong Kong seven years ago to see if the city was as beautiful as portrayed in Wong Kar-wai's movies - and with hopes of directing his own. A film graduate who went on to Harvard business school, Thompson has yet to realise his celluloid dreams but he has moved to a more practical medium - as a shoe designer.

He founded the sneaker brand Cipher two years ago, and launched his latest collection at the Brother & Sister concept store on Wednesday. Its trademark minimalist designs are often inspired by his favourite music, films and books.

'I usually come up with the name of the shoe before the design,' said the 32-year-old Canadian. For instance, a long ride on the MTR turned his mind to Bob Dylan's Subterranean Homesick Blues, inspiring a pair called the Subterranean.

But establishing a lifetyle brand is no cakewalk and certainly no less costly and time-consuming than filmmaking, he said. 'Now I look back, I'm thinking maybe I should have started making a movie,' he said half-jokingly.

Even so, Thompson managed to bring a cinematic touch into his business, recruiting French fashion photographer Laurent Segretier to take photos of 10 local DJs and musicians for an ad campaign. Recruits such as DJ Miss Yellow and The Good Fellas, who were pictured against the cityscape, also compiled a play list for Cipher's online campaign called Big City, Bright Lights. Surprisingly, none of the shoes in Thompson's collection were inspired by his favourite filmmaker. 'I look up to Wong Kar-wai's artistic vision but I draw inspiration from many things - the environment we live in informs what we do.'