France-born, Toronto-based, Pierre Bassene is the creative force behind PIERRE BASSENE WORLD. Though he founded the brand in 2018 and has gained a cult following since, it was never part of the plan.

“I just ended up with it,” he says. “I didn’t have a plan to make a brand and make it look like this. Whether people buy it or not, whether social media exists or not, I’d still be doing the same thing. I make clothes for myself and I’m inspired by the people around me, my environment and where I grew up.”

We caught up with Pierre to discuss the fingerprint that runs through his designs, punk, and learning languages from ASAP Rocky.

3D Promotional photo for Pierre Bassene World streetwear line.
Image via Roxy Navai

How would you describe your brand for those who haven’t heard of it?
It’s hard to describe it with just words. It’s a visual experience more than anything. The whole idea behind the brand isn’t about me or what the clothes are but what you feel when you wear them. That’s why we use the fingerprint, which is a symbol of our connectedness and differences. It’s a lot about our individualities and differences, but that we’re all united. The fingerprint is something everyone owns but it’s also different for everyone.

I think we need that at the moment.
I think so too. Especially in today’s climate, buying into clothes just because it’s hype or because your favourite star wears it isn’t it. It removes the humanness and emotion behind it. It’s like buying into something for the wrong reason.

Is the fingerprint yours?
No, it’s yours. It belongs to whoever wears it.

“Especially in today’s climate, buying into clothes just because it’s hype or because your favourite star wears it isn’t it. It removes the humanness and emotion behind it.”

Is there anything that inspired you to use a fingerprint over anything else?
The fingerprint is unique to everyone but it’s something that leaves your imprint on the world. It’s about vision and saying I approve this thing, this is my stamp. My goal isn’t to sell 100,000 units. It’s more about people understanding this is my vision and you have to express yourself through these clothes. Your differences are your strengths.

Do you have a release schedule?
I have a couple of pieces in the works right now we’re developing to make sure the manufacturing side of it is ready. One thing we’ve been working to perfect in the last year was the manufacturing, because that’s one of the hardest parts when you start a brand. I make the clothes myself. I’ll refine the first sample to a T but I want the manufacturer to reflect it exactly. What we’re putting out at the moment are the classics. The essentials. The denim jeans, for example, are a staple piece. We used raw denim because raw’s the starting point of everything. Next step will be knits and then fleece. Now, we’re starting to get into the more technical stuff and the vision behind the brand. It’s important to lay the foundation first but we’re at the point where we’ve figured out the manufacturing and it’s the right time for us to move forward.

Pierre Bassene sewing material for his clothing line PIERRE BASSENE WORLD.
Image via Misha Mulalu

You’re completely self-taught. How did that start?
When I was back in France, being on the Internet in 2015, I saw influencers on Instagram and people doing partnerships with brands so I was exposed to all that clothing. I’d also go to Fashion Week in Paris so I was surrounded by the fashion scene. Then you realize you’re a part of it but, if you want to buy into those brands at 17, it’s really hard. The best you can do is thrift. My way of going about it was wanting to stand out and be unique. I always wore those clothes. I was always different. The second step was customizing my own stuff, like putting paint on denim. That’s when I started putting the fingerprint on stuff. It was a statement to say this is me. I made a stencil and put it on a random pair of pants I bought for €10.

There’s something punk about it.
Yes. And growing up too, I feel punk is similar to hip-hop and hip-hop culture is really ingrained in me. I used to dance a lot, skateboard, and graffiti.

Where in France are you from?
The east of France, a small town not too far from Germany. I moved to Toronto about four years ago.

Toronto streetwear designer Pierre Bassene
Image via Misha Mulalu

What do you think of the streetwear scene here?
I like it. It’s super North American and hip-hop oriented, so I see myself in it. Now, I feel the streetwear scene in Europe and North America is becoming more similar. Back then, you were more inspired by the music you listened to and people around you. Now, it’s slowly merging and everyone’s into the same style.

You’ve talked about music. Are there any particular artists you go to?
Growing up, it was ASAP Rocky. That’s how I learned to speak English. Going on Urban Dictionary to figure out what something means. Now, I listen to a lot of music. I like electronic music because I’m around the music scene a lot and a lot of friends around me are producers and artists. That educated me on different genres. It really depends on the mood I’m in.

What’s next for you?
Making sure we stay true to ourselves and our vision. To keep creating our world and having the community be a part of it.