Q&A: Jeff Staple Talks New Puma Collaboration, “NTRVL”
PUMA showcased an extensive range of upcoming collaborations at their activation at ComplexCon earlier this month. One of our favorites comes from designer Jeff Staple, via his latest partnership with PUMA, dubbed NTRVL.
Alongside PUMA's Lifestyle head Yassine Saidi, we chatted with Jeff about the upcoming collaboration, as well as past and future projects.
The signature Pigeon is missing in this latest Staple and Puma shoe collaboration. Why did you decide to keep that off?
Multiple reasons... one is because I knew from a scheduling standpoint, we would’ve just came off a big Pigeon launch. Two: there’s more aspects to my life than a Pigeon. A lot of sneakerheads know me for Pigeon stuff, but I also run a creative agency, a full apparel collection, a retail store, and we also do a lot of consulting for multinational brands. So, there's a lot of different aspects in my life and I felt like by just doing another Pigeon thing, it wouldn’t tell that whole story. NTRVL represents the different phases that I go through in my day. I don’t just design T-shirts and do sneakers all day, there’s a lot of sh*t going on in my day that I wanted a collection to represent all of that.
The color combinations are something you’re known for in your collaborations, can you talk about the importance of it?
I came with the black 3M reflective collection, when you look at my look, that’s the best look that transitions from gym to boardroom to dinner... works for every occasion. They were like, "You’re so known for the Pigeon, can we get some element for what you’re known for into the collection so that when people see it, even if they don’t see the Staple branding they know who it is."
Yassine: Sometimes, without telling our collaborators, we'll do the sample and say, "Look how it can look like." It sometimes turns out to be something we all love.
As far as the silhouettes are these ones you chose or were asked to work with?
Some I chose and others were brought to the table. From a footwear standpoint, they obviously know what’s coming out. Puma started on this at the end of 2015.
Yassine: Yes, and we didn’t even have a sample, it was just the drawings.
I had faith what they were doing was going to be dope. They come with the footwear side, and from the apparel side, it’s just ill. Me coming in with an apparel background, I had a lot more input on the functionality and details of the apparel.
One of your previous drops released in different regions. You’ve talked about how the sneaker game has been watered down, how important is it to bring that element back from the past for releases you do?
It goes case by case. You also have to look at the times and trends of what’s going on in the world. Like with our Japan release, it was super, super limited and super expensive, so we reacted to that with the recent drop that was more affordable and more acceptable by more people... but you had to hunt for it. So, it wasn’t a matter of being expensive for a kid, but more it’s not available in my country, so we got to travel for it.
This collection will be a wider release because I felt like this idea behind NTRVL affects every kid, whether you’re going from middle school to high school or last job to retirement, you’re thinking about a shift in your lifestyle. This can apply to everybody and not just sneakerheads. In fact, maybe one of the reasons why I didn’t put a Pigeon on it was because I didn’t want this to be just for sneakerheads, I want it to be for a guy who walks into Foot Locker, who is just looking for some dope stuff.
Yassine: The interesting part of the project is you’re kind of creating a new category, so mixing these two collections with the apparel, the design is very different. It’s a clear merge of high performance and lifestyle. You’ll look at it, think it’s very simple, but it’s very detailed and technical.
You mention NTRVL being a new subcategory in it’s own, will that be a subcategory of just Staple or one between Staple and Puma?
It’s going to be one between Puma and Staple. Right now it’s just Staple, but I would love it if another artist would want to come f*ck with NTRVL, I would totally let them. Like if one day the Weeknd was like, "I feel the same way, can I do something with NTRVL?" Then hell yeah I’d love that. This is just the beginning, there’s a lot more accessories, footwear, and apparel.
NTRVL is about shifting from one part of your day to another, with a lot of streetwear working on comfortability in their clothing, do you think there should be a trade off? Throw some looks away to feel good?
When we started working on this project, the term "athleisure" wasn’t around so our timing was great. When I think of athleisure, drop-crotch sweatpants come to mind, some team cozy type stuff. This is more performance technical driven and you’ll see the details in the pocketing and the zippers and even the bag. Everything is meant for transitions and living the different lifestyle, where athleisure is more about making it so comfortable that it works everywhere and it’s so dark, so you can’t see the problems in it. We have a sports jacket with running vents in the back, you can do some squat sets in it and then go straight to a 4-star restaurant.
Yassine: Athleisure is compromise and NTRVL, some of the stuff you can run a marathon in then go to dinner and still look very fresh.
As far as Puma, why was Jeff Staple a person you wanted to team up with?
Yassine:Jeff is like family to us, right? We’ve done so many projects and I was thinking what can be next with lifestyle, and what can be left with sports style? The natural thing was the merge of both and I know how he’s involved with it and his designs are greats so we fit perfect together. We work with different people and different brands and they all bring something to the table. With Jeff, well he came up with NTRVL, which nobody else could come up with so it’s pretty unique.