Diverse backgrounds and different disciplines didn’t stop Jung Suh and Benyam Assefa from forming a firm friendship–or from creating Number 288, a premium sneaker company for men based in New York City. After meeting at the Parsons School of Design, Suh and Assefa spent years honing their crafts at global fashion houses before embarking on their own venture–Suh worked in international sales, brand development and retail management, while Assefa perfected his accessory skills at Reebok, Ralph Lauren and Calvin Klein.
Influenced by street culture, contemporary design and relentless craftsmanship, the brand’s debut collection takes its cues from downtown Manhattan, seamlessly integrating classic styles with rugged swag like asymmetrical lacing, vulcanized soles or a couple of rivets on a clean canvas upper. Not to mention, the roman numerals for 288 stitched on the back of every pair, as opposed to on the tongue or side. Targeting stylish 20- to 50-year-olds, affluent tastemakers who are internationally-minded and urban, the shoes retail from $350 to $500.
Q: Which celebrities or famous people would you love to see in one of your designs? A: The retired Japanese football player, Hidetoshi Nakata.
Q: Where do you like to shop? A: Perhaps some consignment stores in Tokyo.
Q: Which shoes in your closet are getting the most wear? A: Mott (Runners) and Grand (Low-Basket) from from Number 288.
Q: Which trends do you hope to never see again? A: Trends in general.
Q: Which designer do you admire the most? A: Azzedine Alaia and Junya Watanabe
Q: What is your favorite part of your job? A: Making shoes for ourselves.
Q: If you weren’t designing shoes, what would you be doing? A: Traveling, or working for National Geographic.