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You may have thought that the recent rise of clothing label PIGALLE came out of nowhere, but the Paris-based collective has been bubbling overseas for years. Wanting to build a company off of the simple idea of doing things his own way, owner Stephane Ashpool opened up the doors to the PIGALLE store in 2008 and got to work on building out a destination for a cutting-edge clothing brand. Sure, a co-sign of man-of-the-moment A$AP Rocky has helped visibility in the US, but Ashpool and the PIGALLE crew are focused on taking the label to the next level, with or without a rapper’s blessing. We caught up with Ashpool to get his thoughts on the state of fashion, how the A$AP connection came about, and if we should expect to see PIGALLE stateside anytime soon.
Interview by Joe La Puma (@jlapuma).
The name "PIGALLE" comes from where you grew up and where your mom settled down. Were you always into fashion even when you were young?
Yes! Pigalle is the name of the area in Paris where I grew up with some of the "Pain O choKolat" crew members, and it's also where my mom settled when she left Sarajevo (ex-Yugoslavia) to start a dance career here in Europe.
If I look back at it, I think fashion has always been part of my life and visual world. Since I'm a kid I was surrounded by eccentric personalities, dressed by French stylists like Paco Rabanne, Thierry Mugler or Claude Montana. Then, in the streets I was living this ‘90s culture with my friends and basketball teammates. It was a great time that gave me the passion for non-uniformity.
As far as your distribution it’s really tough to get PIGALLE outside of taking a trip to France, do you have any plans of expanding and putting product in U.S. stores? One thing you pride yourself on is being exclusive and not expensive, usually it’s the more exclusive, the more expensive. What made you choose to make products at such a reasonable price point?
Well, none of that was prepared, it was really spontaneous. In the beginning we just wanted to give the chance to young people and creative friends to buy good, cool products easily. Now the business is going well, we are still interested in selling with easy prices, but we are working on a "natural" pre-selection. We don't sell PIGALLE to everyone that shows up. Definitely we prefer small and good, rather than big and bad. It's our mentality and we are planning on keeping it.
Sure, we're thinking how/when/where. The fact that I'm banned from going to the U.S. doesn't help [Editor's note: Ashpool wouldn't say why he was banned from the states]. But at this moment, the headwear collection is in some stores (Opening Ceremony, Union). Soon we'll do a short exclusive sale on the web for our U.S. friends, stay tuned.
If so, what stores in the U.S. would you like to carry PIGALLE?
No idea yet. Hopefully our own store one day, but before that I've got a lot of stuff to solve.
It seems that your box logo T-shirts and hoodies are like the new Supreme logo tees, what do you attribute the rise in popularity of them to?
First, shout out to Supreme, James Jebbia, and his team for the great job they've been doing for so many years, but I think there’s no need for comparisons. The popularity of PIGALLE is due to the fact that we are more than only fashion. PIGALLE is a movement, it has soul and people feel that. It's just as simple as this I think.
Obviously A$AP Rocky is a big supporter of your brand, how did that connection come about?
A$AP and I connected a bit before "Peso" through a common friend, Andrea from Berlin. Rakim (A$AP Rocky) and the A$AP crew have always been interested in alternative things, so naturally a good feeling was flowing between us. Harlem has always been a place where new styles and trends were born, and Rakim is the new ambassador. We both share the same vision for mixture, so it’s normal we finally linked.
Harlem has always been a place where new styles and trends were born, and [A$AP Rocky] is the new ambassador. We both share the same vision for mixture, so it’s normal we finally linked.
Would you ever want to collaborate with a forward-thinking rapper like A$AP Rocky on a T-shirt?
No, not at all.
What other celebrities do you think have a good fashion sense?
Well I don't really know or care enough about celebrities to give you some names. For me, Paris has all the fashion sense I need.
What do you notice as the biggest difference between street fashion in Paris and New York?
In the last 10 years the difference between the two has reduced with the Internet, the whole world became small. I think the French cultural background determines the difference though, but nowadays it's really subtle.
PIGALLE also does high-fashion pieces, how tough is it to balance streetwear and high-fashion?
Streetwear, sportswear, high-fashion, pret-à-porter, luxury, all those are just titles. I come from a big mix of all these concepts, so naturally this is what we bring to the table. It's not tough to do, the hard part is to make people understand the idea.
What can we expect next from PIGALLE?
A week ago we just opened another store in Paris called PIGALLE, Lsd Edition next to the new fashion museum (Cité de la Mode). The cloth selection, concept of the store and interior design is a totally new thing, I'm very happy with the result! Also, expect to see some basketball content with our day-one sports partner, Nike as well as upcoming street tournaments, redesigns and many other secret stories coming in the future.
Besides clothing, Charaf, my partner in crime, and I are taking over the Parisian nightlife with Le Pompon, and opening a new club is a priority now. You can expect PPP (PIGALLE/Pompon/Pain O choKolat) to keep Paris and Europe in the spotlight.