For sneaker heads and streetwear nuts, you would already be aware of the influence Jeff Staple holds. For those unfamiliar with this lauded name, you would recognise his work with the likes of Nike, Medicom, Levi’s, Adidas, Facebook, Uniqlo, The North Face and most recently, Miller Design Lab through New York-based firm, Staple Design. Many consider the designer as a founding father of streetwear and his experience in the industry has translated into some of the most hyped collaborations to-date.
Despite the current lockdown, this has not inhibited Staple’s creativity and amid the pandemic he still continues to create – this next project has eyes set on Australian brand Bellroy. In a bid to celebrate nightlife and the creative diversity it fosters through customisation and self-expression, the duo have been brought together by Miller Design Lab to create a customisable version of the label’s iconic sling bag.
“Our greatest hope is that diverse creatives will take this design and make it sing in entirely new ways. So perhaps it can be less about what they take from it, and more about what of themselves they put into it,” Andy Fallshaw, Co-Founder & CEO of Bellroy told ICON. “New York and Melbourne are united by hugely creative spirits. If this project is embraced the way we hope it is, we’ll see vibrant and original expressions that take this beyond anything we could ourselves imagine.”
Amid the competition to get your hands on these one-of-a-kind, limited bags, we caught up with Staple for a look into creativity in the time of a pandemic and how the streetwear game is evolving, in turn.
ICON: You’re considered a founding father of streetwear. How have you seen streetwear evolve in the past 10 years?
Jeff Staple: “Thanks for having me! Street culture is always evolving. We were the antithesis to mass market which was always making millions of things, where we would make hundreds of things or even dozens of things to try and express ourselves better .Now we just want to make one individual customised thing. That’s how you can truly express yourself uniquely.
And how would you say the pandemic has changed our perceptions on streetwear and more importantly hype?
JS: “I think now more than ever, it is important streetwear brands be active, productive and working. And regarding hype? That is merely the term used to represent making highly desirable products that people really want.
“To me, that is at the core of creation.”
You can surely make things that people don’t want, but I don’t think that will last you very long.”
Talk to me about the most recent collaboration with the Miller Design Lab and Bellroy. How did that come about?
JS: “I’ve always been a fan of the brand. Their attention to detail on product design is bar none. I also did not realise they are the creators of Carryology which is one of my favourite Instagram accounts to follow. So finally being able to connect with them then through the Miller Design Lab is a nice surprise. This year, the Miller Design Lab (virtually) visited Canada, South Africa and of course Australia—the home of Bellroy. In the future, I’m looking forward to exploring new creative energy centres all over this planet.”
Why is it important to continue creating during these uncertain times?
JS: “Right now, it is very easy for creatives to stay at home and become mentally stagnant. It’s also easy to get caught on a downward slide. So collaborating, creating, and just keeping the brain busy is very important in these crazy times.”
Where do you think the consumer fascination of personalisation came from?
JS: “I think people want something made just for them. It’s a natural evolution to where street culture is coming from. From making millions of things, to hundreds of things, to dozens of things, to just one individual customised thing. That’s how you can truly express yourself uniquely.
You’ve worked with designers and brands from across the globe. What do you love about collaborating with Australian businesses?
JS: “Oh I have always had a special place in my heart for Aussies down under. To me it is literally utopia. (But for some reason, when I say this to Australians, they don’t believe me!) It is the perfect blend of nature, cosmopolitan urban life, food, coffee, health, culture, and design. Sure it’s a little far, but once you’re there it’s paradise. Little known fact: I have a podcast on Hypebeast called the “Business of Hype”. This season, four of my 10 guests were from Australia or had roots there! So wild and unplanned. Y’all are representing down there hard! Keep it going! Can’t wait to be able to fly down and visit again.”
For more information on this special collaboration, visit here.
Cover image: Instagram @jeffstaple