I never liked the idea of looking like everyone else. I suppose in some regards, I've always been an outsider to some degree, having been born in the US but living in Taiwan for the first 5 years of my life. In essence, I never really had the option to look like everyone else and while it may have been difficult at times, it became something I grew to embrace as I developed a more personal sense of aesthetic.
I guess there is a bit of a streak of outsiderism that runs in my family. Both my parents were born in China but both emigrated to Taiwan at a young age. It was the Communists who sought for the execution of my mother's father, a warlord turned Nationalist general, and the Japanese that forced my grandfather, a member of the Nationalist Air Force, on my dad's side, to flee the country, effectively making both my parents refugees. Growing up I never thought much of this as I'd always considered ourselves Chinese, never once thinking that my parents had to grow up as foreigners in Taiwan, which as I'd later learn, came with its own hardships and discrimination.
It wasn't until I moved to Tokyo, where I gave this concept of outsiderism a bit more thought, as I'd entered a new phase of it myself. Essentially their whole lives my parents were outsiders, eventually coming to the US for grad school, a triumphant feat at the time for anyone in Taiwan. Both studying engineering (my father, environmental engineering and my mother, naval architecture), they came to the US, met and got married in the 70s. They acclimated to life in America quite well, even becoming members of the Playboy Club, then a swanky hotel in upstate New York, where scantily clad bunnies served guests cocktails by the pool. They were probably the only Chinese people there.
After I was born, my father got assigned to an expat job to Taipei and he along with our family relocated to what would be home for the next five years. They enrolled me in an American kindergarten, which was probably the epitome of odd. I was Chinese but born in the US, living in Taiwan and now had to attend a school that was predominantly white. Fitting in was not easy and not just for me, but interestingly enough, for my parents as well. They had already become too Americanized, couldn't relate to the Taiwanese lifestyle anymore and before long, we were back in New Jersey. Even weirder. I could scarcely speak English and was made to be in an English as second language class. Fitting in, again, was not an option.
And as I reflected on the timing of their immigration and our subsequent move back and forth, I realized just how much it would leave an indelible influence on my personal taste and aesthetic. My parents certainly had a very particular taste themselves, which I'd experience through old photos and the furniture that populated our house, which had a distinctly 70s panache. All their books and Architectural Digest magazines were from the 70s, yet I grew up in the 80s. Having so much exposure to the 70s, I never liked the style of the 80s. For me, even at that age, it seemed far too inorganic, if that makes any sense.
In middle school, I began going through my father's old clothes and found them to work well with my blossoming appreciation for The Beatles, Jimi Hendrix and The Doors as I discovered his old records. He was a fairly fashionable guy and was an exceptional portrait artist, encouraging me to draw for hours on end as a child. Adopting paisley patterned shirts with massive butterfly collars and bell bottom jeans with triple stitch seaming, I started to assume a sort of flair for that era. People just thought I was smoking pot, which, incidentally, was not the case. It, combined with an interest in the Seattle grunge scene, became formative elements of what would be the start of my understanding of style.
Eventually my mom got into going on cruises for vacation. They were an economical way to see several places in one trip and also, as a naval architect for the US Navy, fulfilled an appreciation for shipbuilding. Oddly enough, my mother gave in to bouts of seasickness really easily. While I wasn't necessarily a fan of cruises (I felt like you couldn't really see much of the cities in the 1-2 days docked in their ports), it allowed me to find goods from around the world that suited my sense of style. Most importantly I felt like I was getting things that no one else in New Jersey would ever get their hands on. That might not be saying all that much but it allowed me to strike a unique form of expression through how I dressed that could be a contrast to what had become a Pac Sun, skater dominated trend pervading the halls of my middle school.
I didn't really care much for being a part of a trend. Nor did I ever really get into Jordans. At most I got into Umbros because I played soccer and Agassis because I played Tennis. But in retrospect, it was those early years of being a misfit of sorts that gave me the desire to go against the grain and not feel a need to look like or be like everyone else. Ultimately, it's played a large part in how I came to create FACTO. It had to be iconoclastic for me, a total departure from what social media and tastemakers say a guy should look like to be a good fuccboi. It's created a sort of frustration with the industry in general, which I find to be overly homogeneously influenced by the internet, even today, as I write this on the internet. The reverence for a time before my own time found in those old records and clothes from the 70s, instilled a desire to create timelessness, rather than just a time in trend. The shoes have to be able to look as good on you ten years from now or maybe even twenty years from now, when your kids start digging through your closet searching for some hidden, ethereal sense of style.