Jem of Crossover: Being Reasonable and Demanding the Impossible

Crossover Malaysia is going into their 13th year of business in 2018, and that number may be unlucky for some, but founder, Jem, is taking things as they come. For over a decade, he has been fighting to bring concepts and brands he likes to the Malaysian streetwear scene.

Starting with Crossover boutiques in his hometown of Johor Bahru, he expanded to Kuala Lumpur with Japanese-influenced store design and retail concepts, offering high-quality garments from the likes of Wacko Maria, NBHD, Fuct SSDD, Carhartt WIP just to name a few.

This desire to bring change to the local scene is captured in his favourite quote from Guy Debord – “Be reasonable, demand the impossible”. As Jem continues his fight, we talk to him about some of his go-to brands, garments and style cues:

I see you mostly wear New Balance sneakers.

It’s more spontaneous for me. I like to wear shoes that can be easily matched in multiple styles, and New Balance allows me to do that. It can complement a preppy look, like a Gitman Vintage shirt and a smart tie, or my favourite Jacket and even just a plain tee. It allows effortless styling.

I grew up with the 576, so it influenced me on my style of choice and my preference. A few years back, they re-released the 990v1 model, I fell in love a second time and haven’t turned back since. Recently I received a pleasant surprise from Eugene Yeo of New Balance Singapore, he gave me a 990v4 to try out and it has become my favourite shoe for now.

Are there any other sneakers that you really love?

Puma Suede was kind of an accidental crush. In the early 90s, I was really into the Beastie Boys, and on the cover of “Check Your HeadAd-Rock was wearing a pair of Puma Clydes, which I mistakenly thought were Puma Suedes. Since then, the Suede has been great to me. I always drop by vintage/used clothing stores in hopes of finding a pair of “Made in Yugoslavia” Suedes to add to my collection.

How about these Slip-Ons you were telling me about?

During the end of Fall/Winter 2016, Vans re-released their OG Classic Slip-On Checkerboard as part of their premium Vault collection. To me it’s authentic and has unique detailing compared to other slip-ons. Same with Converse, with the re-release of classic Chuck 70’s, though Vans chose to re-issue them in a smaller scale and limited quantity. It’s just a classic and has its own unique charisma.

I notice you have a lot of jackets too.

I love jackets. To me, each jacket has its own character. I am constantly in meetings, thus I feel the need to look a bit more formal without actually dressing formally. So outerwear such as a jacket is a perfect piece to add that professional appearance, but remaining casual.

You mentioned before that Taxi Driver is one of your favourite films that inspired you aesthetically.

I think all teenagers of my age grew up with at least one of Martin Scorsese’s films. For me, Robert De Niro as Travis Bickle in Taxi Driver is a character with a strong will to make changes, I think we all can relate to that in one way or another.

Who are your style icons and can you give us one of your key style tips?

If you asked me who is my fashion icon, one of it is the Malaysian film director and social activist, Hishamuddin Rais, and the other is Richard Hell of Richard Hell and the Voidoids. Regarding style tips, my favourite quote from Vivian Westwood is “Buy less. Choose well. Make it last”. Simple yet deep advice, if you understand the true meaning.

Follow Jem on his Instagram @jem_crossover for some black and white sub-cultured thoughts and follow @crossoverconceptstore for updates on their latest product drops.

PHOTOGRAPHY: Jules @ Streething