By now, you should be pretty familiar with the next Nike collaboration to hit shelves in the very near future: The footwear powerhouse teamed up with quite possibly the coolest streetwear brand in Paris at the moment. Led by designer Stephane Ashpool, Pigalle is a shop and label that resides in a neighborhood of the same title, and has slowly but surely taken the lead in the streetwear landscape of the City of Lights. We chopped it up with Ashpool to talk about the individual components of the collaboration, what his goals are when he designs, and why he's known as the Mayor of Pigalle.
Why did you choose the AF1?
In the past I played professional basketball during all my youth and the AF1 was always the perfect outdoor shoe. Also I like the fact that the AF1 was released the year I was born, in 1982. The shoe is such an iconic symbol of basketball and street culture that to wear it even today makes a statement. I wanted to work on a project that was very personal and the AF1 was the ideal shoe to work on.
These sneakers have a lived-in look, while having elements of luxury with details like leather laces. What is the process that went into achieving that look, and what was the reasoning?
Patina and time passing was a point of inspiration for the design so you can see avarnished treatment on the leather of the upper gives the AF1 an aged look. We wanted to clash menswear aesthetics with sport so the construction of the AF1 uses techniques common to menswear brogues. Excess padding is removed, leather laces are added, and an oversized gold metal eyelet accent lends a workman boot type finish. The leather uppers are finished with a waxed coating that will break down with everyday wear, as the Nike x PPP AF1 gets older over time.
How does the clothing relate to the footwear, and which did you design first?
The apparel came from the same inspiration as the AF1 so the pieces relate to one another. Just as you have two teams in a game, we wanted to create uniforms that reflect the wear and tear of the basketball court and the spirit of opposing teams. This is interpreted in tie dye treatments on the fabric. The materials and the styles were chosen since they reflect how we dress. For instance, the bottom of the shorts are cut for a handmade look.
Nike x PPP AF1 project became more than just a footwear project but it evolved to reflect a total look that is representative of our basketball style.
You started off as a hat maker, and this collection includes a hat. What type of hat did you make and why?
The hat is a classic Nike cap, it's part of the ball player’s uniform so it’s an authentic part of the look.
Your shop is based in Pigalle, which is not the most glamorous part of the city. Why did you choose that area, and then to name your brand after it?
I’m born in the area, my mum came here from Sarajevo when she was young, it’s my village and people called me here their "mayor." It’s a glamorous place if you search a bit, and this area made me. Now it’s much more charming, I’m happy about it.
How did Pain O Chokolat start? And who are the key people involved.
Wow, a long long time ago. We’re a group of 10 friends who met in school and/or while playing sport. We all grew up together and now each of us has developed his owndiscipline. DJ, actor, performer, entrepreneur, events producer… It's hard to call out key people since I guess things happened because of team work. We are essentially one big family.
After seeing your show in Paris, it's clear that you have a strong voice in fashion, and are a leader in the world of menswear. You incorporated friends, kids from the neighborhood, a motley crew of people for your show/theater presentation called "Mikado." Is there always a narrative with your collections and designs? I find that with you it's a lot more than just clothing, and a lot more than just a show.
Thanks, I appreciate that you feel this way about what we do. The things we do are organic and very instinctive. I was a street kid who played basketball all day. My mum was a dancer, my dad is a sculptor so I’ve been raised around a lot of creativity. The mixed situation I was surrounded by was just unbelievable and it reflects in what I do today. So now what I’m doing is a big melting pot, from sport to art to social—which eventually ends up being called fashion. But when I think of a collection, I first think to tell a story... I create clothes to tell a story, put them on stage, and see my people live in them.
What made you move from hats, then to T-shirts, and now to a full collection?
Always wanted to do this but building solid things always take time, I’m not in a rush... I just want to create without compromise.
When you have a show, what do you want people to leave with?
Something charming, real with an European flavor and an ethnic feeling. Also melancholia, it’s a very common feeling from Balkan people, we cry or we laugh—there is no middle.
How is it working with Nike? Did you have a lot of freedom, and are you proud of the result?
Nike is family now, some people in the company are friends that I have known or worked with for almost 10 years now. They gave me as much freedom as I asked for and we worked together to realize what was possible. About the result, it’s hard to say because I’m never really happy, it’s a motor of motivation for me. I always think I can do better but seriously for the first time I think we’ve created a very coherent capsule collection. So yes, I‘m proud!