Jeff Staple: 10 Objects That Define His Streetwear Career

This day, Feb. 2, 2005, was just a historic day for me but also I think a game-changing day for sneaker culture in general. Prior to this, sneakers, sneakerheads, and sneaker collectors were like a subculture. It was a niche. It was like a couple hundred people in downtown New York City who were obsessed with shoes, waiting in line, camping out, reselling — not on any eBay, GOAT, StockX platform, but like reselling to your homie. You would wait in line, cop one, and then you’d make $10 upselling it to your friend. That was reselling. So it was really, like, a subculture at that time. And then it was after this New York Post headline that everyone realized what was going on in this subculture. If you’ve heard the expression “hopping on the bandwagon,” I think this was the creation of the bandwagon that everyone then hopped on. This was a pretty special moment.

I’ve done so many “Pigeon” projects. That was my goal. That was one of my intentions. When I grew up, I was really a big fan of graffiti artists. There’s a term called “going all city,” which means you can get your tag in every borough of the five boroughs or you do it on the side of a subway train so everyone in all of the five boroughs can see your tag as it goes through all the subway systems. I dabbled in graffiti, but I didn’t have the balls to actually go and hang off of the side of a train and do graf. I didn’t want to get arrested either. But this idea of ​​creating a brand, or a mark like a tag, and then being able to put that “tag” on all these different surfaces like a watch or a camera, that to me was like the graffiti spirit of going all city. So that was a very intentional thing to create a mark and also create a colorway. Owning a colorway is damn near impossible. There’s like Tiffany blue, Coke red. There’s not that many brands that when you see that color combination, you see that brand. But that pigeon gray with the pigeon pink of the feet and the white pop, that started with the “Pigeon” Dunk. And then we applied it to so many different things.

That was full graffiti artist mentality, me just trying to bomb the system. I think in the past quarter of a century, I’ve done a pretty damn good job of bombing many, many systems. Even among the greatest footwear designers of all time and the greatest collaborators, I can’t really think of anyone who has been able to apply their mark to so many different surfaces, brands, and products. I sometimes hear people be like, “Yo, you’re so boring. You keep doing the same thing over again.” It’s like, “Yes, that’s my intention.” It’s like Futura’s tag or the Obey Andre the Giant sticker. The point is to put up as many different stickers as possible. The point is everywhere you go in the world, you see the same sticker, the same tag, the same pigeon, the same colorway.

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