Over at The New York Times, Matthew Schneier dives into the history and culture surrounding one of the most popular streetwear brands out today and its somewhat mysterious founder, Pigalle's Stephane Ashpool. Overall, the piece is a fascintaing look at how a hyper-local brand exploded onto the menswear scene.
Ashpool is somewhat famously banned from entering the United States and hasn't been here in 12 years, which adds to the veil of Pigalle's secrecy, at least from a Stateside perspective. Much of Ashpool's story builds around the neighborhood in Paris' Ninth Arrondissement called, yes, "Pigalle," where he was born and raised. These days Ashpool and Pigalle hold enough influence over the area that he says his dream is to be the mayor, which he honestly believes is not entirely out of the realm of possibility.
As to be expected, the brand is more than merely a clothing line, but a culture that revolves around Ashpool's social circle, called Pain O ChoKolat. Most of the crew's members met through basketball, a clear influence on the brand's latest "Pigalle Basketball" collection and collaborations with Nike. The "PPP" seen on the Pigalle x Nike Air Raids stands for Pain O ChoKolat, Pigalle and Le Pompon, a club Ashpool's friend founded in 2010 that more or less rounds out the signature Pigalle lifestyle triumvirate of streetwear, basketball and partying.
Naturally, as the brand grew, it evolved into more of a French version of Supreme and the philosophy of keeping the brand solely local had to change somewhat. Offerings grew from simple box logo tees to jackets, pants, shorts and ready-to-wear collections with unique designs and perspective. In fact, Ashpool has been in Bali lately, documenting Pigalle's organic dye processes, which you can see on his Instagram. With the cosign of two Nike collaborations and countless cool guy celebs (read: A$AP Rocky), Pigalle clearly isn't the low-key operation it was when Ashpool first started. Regardless, his closing remarks reflect a homegrown product who values his roots above all else: "I did what I dreamed. You can have simple dreams. I never wanted to be Michael Jackson. Just wanted to live this village life, work with my friends, have my family near, be surrounded by kids. I will not move nowhere."