Jeff Staple as far as we are concerned is one of the most interesting entrepreneur and figures in street wear and street wear culture. He has always maintained a steadfast commitment to follow his vision despite the fickleness of the industry. While other brands were eager to cash in on whatever trends were popular, Staple Design stood by their commitment to creating simple, intelligent design pieces. I think its really important for people to understand the history behind both the brand he has created and his design studio. I find his ideas and the execution of said ideas are a case study in both building and maintaining a interesting brand.
A lot of people know who you are from the Pigeon series, but what is your background and How did you get started? (both Reed Space and Staple Design)
The whole Pigeon phenomenon is great because it opened Staple up to a lot of people. But my 3 main backgrounds are the Staple apparel collection which started in 1997. The Staple Design Studio which services many different multi-faceted clients around the globe. And our retail operation and gallery, Reed Space. So the Pigeon thing kind of comes from all that since it likely would never have happened if it weren’t for all of the 3 prior things already existing.
What was your first real job?
Developing film at a 1 hour photo lab in a strip mall in NJ. I think lost 3 years of my life from the fumes and chemicals alone.
What’s your title? What’s on your Business card?
Nobody who works at Staple has any titles on their business cards. That’s done on purpose. Anyone is good enough to make an executive decision when needed. And anyone is good enough to take out the trash when needed.
How do you and your staff stay motivated and creative without falling into ruts or succumbing to trends?
It’s a cliche….but um, we try to be ourselves? We observe and see what others do, but we don’t follow it. We can’t. We like the way we are and we believe in it because others do as well. Motivation comes from the people we inspire. It’s true. The more wealth you spread, the more you want to spread it. That wealth can come in many forms.
What is your idea of success? (Before Staple Design and After)
I think it was the same before AND after. Waking up and doing what you love is a major part of “success”. Making a comfortable living doing that is gravy on top. Supporting an entire group of people on that notion is just really a dream come true. (And quite stressful at the same time!)
It seems like you like to stay busy; does that ever affect your creativity?
I stay busy because I need to keep this ship afloat. Some people think I’m a workaholic, but I’m really not. I can be quite lazy. But I know the business at hand here and it needs hard work to maintain it. While I love what I do, make no mistake it is still my 9-5. It’s not like some dreamy thing where creativity just pours right out of thin air. So staying busy helps to keep the lights on. Trying to keep creativity takes a ton of dedication. For me anyway….
How do you describe your own personal style?
Very simple. Possibly bordering on boring. When you work in fashion, you just get so tired of seeing “fashion” that when it comes to dress yourself, you just want to keep it simple as possible.
What practical advice would you give to young up and coming entrepreneurs who would like to run their own independent businesses?
If you’re a creative person, find a business partner from Day One that you trust and work together. If you’re in apparel or anything that requires manufacturing, fuck your name, your logo and your business card. First things first: Where are you getting you shit made??? If you start your “business” and don’t where or who is making your “product”, then you’re already way behind the 8 ball. Like I was! haha…
What brands do you think are interesting right now?
Graphically, I love what Six Pack from Paris does. They have some really dope designs and presentations. Fashion-wise, I love Engineered Garments. It works well with my simple style. Nobody needs to know my jacket retails for $600 except me.
I feel like Reed Space & Reed Space Annex are almost trying to enlighten consumers and introduce them to new items or ideas; not just a retail space. What is your vision for Reed Space?
Yup, that’s pretty much it. We’re trying to educate people more-so than shove goods down their throat. The theme of the whole space is a school. Hence, naming it after my high school art teacher, Michael Reed.
What are some of the challenges in being a small independent company?
1. No Money. 2. No Money. 3. No Money.
Instead of getting sued, you just get Cease and Desist letters. ha!
Just as an outsider, it seems like when it comes to Staple as a clothing line you really are more concerned with detail and not what everyone else is doing. We feel like the Staple clothing brand is progressive ahead of the curve. You recently described your new fall line as “Biology and Anatomy” themed, could you elaborate on that idea?
Each season, we concentrate on a different “subject” in school. School and Education are the overriding themes of the whole brand though. So for Fall 07, we did the theme of “School’s Out”. Spring 2008 we did “Teachers/Professors”. Fall 2008 as you noticed, its “The Science Of Life”. For Spring 2009, we have “The Photo Club” coming…so as you can see, each season is dedicated to a different aspect of education. And thanks for the props on our collection. Streetwear is headed for some rocky waters at the moment. So we’re just trying keep moving forward…staying afloat.
It seems like your work is your life and vice versa, how do you find a balance between both your personal life and your professional one?
Yeah it pretty much is. When you love what you do though, you don’t really need to find that balance. It finds you.
Special Thanks to Ana from Staple Design for helping us coordinate the interview.
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