In 1997, Jeff Staple walked into a boutique in New York City wearing a shirt he printed in his silkscreen class at Parsons School of Design. He had no intention of even wanting to start a brand. He walked out of that store with an order of 12 shirts. Staple was officially open for business. What started as a small T-Shirt line handmade by Jeff Staple, grew organically and began to gain visibility in NYC.
In the process of building this burgeoning brand, Nike asked Jeff Staple in 2005 to create a special commemorative sneaker that would represent New York. The Staple Pigeon Dunk SB was conceived and lead to much fanfare upon its release and exposed Staple—as well as sneaker culture—to the masses.
@StaplePigeon is now a world-renowned brand which reflects the gritty and never-ending energy New Yorkers (and all urban dwellers) possess. It not only exists as a representation of New York, but The Pigeon is also the influence behind Staple’s extensive apparel range and collaborative items available across the world. Inspired by street culture and design, Staple’s reach encompasses many different landscapes such as fashion, music, sport, and art. Recently, we rapped with fellow member Jeff Staple about life, cars and what it means to design things that make the world take notice.
In New York, people think of pigeons as….brothers in Arms! Sure some people think of them as “rats with wings”. But you gotta respect this bird that survives in the harshest conditions like we do. This bird can fly anywhere in the world! But he chooses to live here. (Even with these rent prices!) That hustle and spirit is why I identify myself — and my brand with the humble Pigeon.
When approaching a new design project, the first thing I do is…. Ask questions. What are everyone’s goals here? Inherently, design should solve problems. So before I even think of the creative, I think of the problem that needs solving. Is it increasing sales? Increasing exposure? Improving quality? All these things matter. And the answers to these questions will inform the final outcome. Which leads to happy customers, which means happy clients.
Sneaker design…is the new Automobile! People do a lot of walking in cities now. What you put on your feet for those 10,000 steps each day is a reflection of yourself. Sneaker design has become a part of the daily conversation. Sneakers and cars both…can be sexy as f*ck. Let’s face it. You can buy a pair of $10 shoes from Walmart. And you can buy a Camry. But if you want to go beyond the “utility” of the product and add any sort of representation about your character, you’ll want to add some kind of flare. And from there, the sky’s the limit.
This year, Staple turned 20. For two decade…I been working my ass off. I think the most important element to my success is that I didn’t just work on the product—I worked on the culture too. The culture today is exploding. And while I am very proud of all the great products we’ve made, I’m more proud of where the entire culture has evolved to and that I can still be an architect of that.
For our 21 st year…Age ain’t nuthin’ but a number. I began this brand with the idea of longevity. Not in years, but in GENERATIONS. We’re planting seeds so that decades and centuries from now, people can trace their steps back to this era and say “Staple man…If it weren’t for them, we wouldn’t be standing here today.”