Jun Jo first came onto my radar in the early Momentum videos when he hung a lip out to dry on his backhand. From there it was watching, from afar, him becoming the first surfer on the books at Alphanumeric (I forgot to ask if he ever got a pair of the OG SB Dunks…) and then Zoo York. You could say Jun Jo was one of the (if not, the) first professional surfers who bridged that gap between streetwear fashion and beach lifestyle, which back in the day was super weird if you came from a proper surf background.

From there Jun Jo started In4mation, along with Stussy was one of the first brands I was aware of that really mixed street and surf together – no doubt an influence from his earlier days with Zoo York, etc, and then onto where he is today with Vast and the several other projects he’s a part of.

We eventually met during the trade show chaos of the mid 00’s, and kept in contact via mutual interests and friends. This conversation below is a result of chin wags over the last ten years or so, and I’m stoked to finally get it online. Hope you enjoy it 🙂

In4mation

EA – You created In4mants (In4mation), one of – arguably – the first cross over brands between surf and street fashion –

Jun Jo – It’s kinda funny how it happened naturally as all us 4 partners were friends first. Before the days of the world wide web, you would hang with those that would inspire you. For us, our common bond was the love for the culture we call streetwear today. We loved the music, loved the art and loved how it all translated into clothing back then. For me, I discovered all of this through travel when I was surfing as a professional most of it in Asia where I believe all of this streetwear really originated from. 

The four partners of In4mation were all living what they do. Skate, music, art and myself surf. That’s how we created this beautiful mesh, first true to our roots threaded into our collective love of the streetwear culture. All of it happened naturally where our brand portrayed itself this way and attracted those who were not yet educated about this lifestyle. Surf was in our DNA from the very inception.

EA – What were some of the bigger challenges of creating a brand out of Hawaii that wasn’t entirely rooted in surf?

Jun – For us, we just did us and didn’t really think too much about how it was gonna attract customers and such. We were more hyped on the fact that we got to create something that we loved. Which made it ever authentic and in turn, our fans could feel that which attracted them to our brand.


EA – The most rewarding moment from it all? 

Selfishly I would think that I had a little part of being one that through living this lifestyle helped surfers become part of all of this. Maybe I gave a  little influence back in the day through being Zoo York’s and Alphanumeric’s first surf rider and the first surfer to have a signature shoe with Etnies. Who knows if it did or not .. Hahaha.

The Momentum Generation

EA – How was it being in Momentum films back in the day? 

Jun Jo – The Momentum crew are truly family, the crew were friends first. We pushed each other in the water but were the best of friends out of the water even till this day. (We all talk every day through a group chat)

No one really thought that they were creating a change in surfing, creating a historic moment in the sport we love. Everyone was just living it which is how everything should be.

EA – Who has your all-time favourite section across all of Taylor’s movies?

Jun –

Momentum – Rob Machado’s part was dope – the new airbrush, the song, the surfing. I believe it was a time where he was officially introduced to the world as one of the best.

Momentum 2 – Shane Dorian’s part. It was a time where you either were good in big surf or small surf. Shane’s part broke the mould. That wave he got at Pipe shot from Benji Weatherly’s pipe house was a game changer.

Good Times – The introduction to the underground heroes to the masses. That was what was special about this move. Akila Aipa, Travis Molina, Justin Poston, Joe Curren and Greg Browning…. These guys were world class.

Focus – Benji Weatherly. It was a time where myself and him alongside a bunch of us would travel for the contests. His focus was more on creating a part than the contest which veered him to an amazing part. I knew how much it meant to him and to see how great it turned out made me a proud friend.

Loose Change – Kelly Slater. He just looked so solid in his surfing. Long fast drawn-out lines mixed with progressive moves. A moment where his surfing was perfect.

Hit and Run – Introduction of Andy Irons. One of the greatest ever.

Vast.

EA – How did you end up at Vast? 

Jun Jo – Everything that I learned from In4mation was all out of necessity and survival. Learning how to conceptualize, design, shoot, market and sell the product lead me naturally to other creative opportunities aside from working on the In4mation brand/shops. I met the owner of Vast, Sam Yang, years who was in the same boat as me as he himself owned and ran a series of creative businesses from there we started to officially work on Vast.

EA – How did Vast start? What brought it about, who brought the idea forward?

Jun – Vast started many years ago by Sam Yang. For him, it was a creative outlet of the life we now live. The brand had several years of really figuring out (as well all have those moments in life) who it really was. I myself joined in nearly 5 years ago, first shooting some of their campaigns to now creative director. Its been a beautiful journey of really looking into who we were as people and then translating it into the brand.

EA -How many names and brand marks did Vast go thru before deciding on this one?

Jun – Vast has several logos which are still flowing throughout the brand. 

EA – When was the moment that you guys thought, ‘we’ve got something special here’… ?

Jun – I think it was early this year (2019) when we really felt like the brand started speaking on who we are. For us its the love of surfing first but besides surfing, there are other loves. Cars, food, fashion and the natural elements. 

EA – Top three highlights from it all so far?

Jun – For myself, one would be hearing the streets start talking about the brand. People sending me pics of them seeing it on a random person on the streets. Tokyo, Hawaii, Taiwan, SFO and all the way over in NYC. Its dope.

The other two would be having influential distributors wanting to be part of this movement and of course having friends that want to be part of it. 

EA – How has the brand evolved over time to where you are right now?

Jun – We’ve been through a long process of figuring out who are we, how we want to portray ourselves. The reality is the brand is who we are, once we figured that out it’s now feeling like how it’s supposed to be.

EA – Where do you see VAST evolving to, ending up at?

Jun – I would love to see us build a network of like-minded people around the world. Vast can and should be a platform more so than a clothing brand.

EA – What’s the end game objective?

Jun – As a brand business wise we plan to cap our sales off at a certain point with the thought that we can build it to a point where we’re comfortable, live within our means and always be something we’re proud of.

Vast Product

EA – What’s the design process behind creating a towel from the initial step to the final product?
Jun – For us, a product like a towel is finding the right vendor, as good towels with low volume has been notoriously pricey to make. Once you lock that in its time to design. For myself travel has been the most inspiring for design. Seeing things along the way that may trigger creative ideas some related to what you see at the time some completely not. It’s like going to a museum looking at art then while looking at art a totally unrelated idea pops up in your head, I believe through experience creativity comes alive. The towel is a necessary piece for a surfer but one that lives the Vast life would want something that is fashionable and cool. So that’s the idea upon designing the towels.

EA – How long is turn around for a general release collection?
Jun – Turn around can be as short as a few days (we have our own direct to garment printer in-house) to 3 months all the way out to a year depending on the type of products we make

EA – What’s been VAST’s most successful capsule release to date?
Jun – With our brand, we do build our own cars. Ones that we personally love and is unique to our brand. A few years ago we built a BMW e30 touring which we coloured to match our colour block line. Both the car and collection made blended perfectly. From what I heard it won a bunch of awards which is cool.

EA – Can you give us any insight into upcoming collaborations for the year?
Jun – This upcoming year were working on a few secret projects. Hahaha. A few more cars, few more collections to accompany the builds. 

EA – Are you guys looking for new markets to increase distribution, or will you stick to surf/beach lifestyle?
Jun – For Vast we’re turning more outside of the surf market as the surf beach is in our DNA but isn’t how we live our daily lives. I would say we’re looking towards the city surfer. 

EA – What’s the biggest thing you learnt from your In4mants days that can be applied to Vast?
Jun – Everything! 

Jun Jo Interview

Extras

EA – What do you listen to while you work?
Jun Jo – Bikini Kill, Mac Miller 

EA – What are you currently reading?
Jun – Subtle Art of Not Giving A F*ck, by Mark Manson

EA – The best advice you’ve received?
Jun – Keep it moving

EA – What apps, software, tools make your life easier?
Jun – Asana project app.

EA – Where do you love to travel?
Jun – Asia has been the most inspiring of late

EA – What won’t you travel w.o?
Jun – Surfboards and computer.

In4mation – https://www.in4mation.co/
Vast Life – https://vastlife.com/
Jun on IG – https://www.instagram.com/junxjo/

Other interviews with Jun –
The Hundreds
Complex Mag
Surf Mag Japan

Other interviews on Empire –
Sam Coombes
Jack Perry 
Trent Mitchell
and others…