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Birds Of A Feather: Jeff Staple Talks Pigeons In Manila

Date: September 05 2016

By: Shay Colley

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Jeff Staple recently got together with Manila’s SNEAKPEEK to drop another chapter in the chronicles of the Pigeon. Together the team applied Staple’s signature avian colourway to Nike’s lightweight Air Max Zero for a super limited Philippines exclusive release. We caught up with the man himself in Manila just before the launch to talk all things avian.

What have you made of the local Manila kids? We spent all day yesterday talking to them and it’s refreshing to see so much enthusiasm.
Yeah, it is. I have travelled the world enough to see that enthusiasm pop up in different parts. I remember maybe five years ago when I visited China it was like that. Or I could go back 15 years ago and go to Tokyo where there was that enthusiasm. Now in Tokyo, now in China, that sort of enthusiasm wanes and at best they become resellers, and they’re not really into the art of it anymore. At worst – they think it’s corny and they’ve moved on to something else.

Things that are cool don’t stay that way forever. So how does the sneaker thing keep reinventing itself and stay cool? I would argue that it has so far.
I agree. I don’t think the sneaker companies have the answer though. I think they figure it out as they go along, I don’t think Nike and adidas have a five-year plan of how to remain relevant and cool. I think right now the obvious silver bullet formula of remaining cool is to do strategic collaborations, particularly with celebrities and musicians and influencers. I think even more specifically now it’s more straight-up celebrities. That seems to be the thing that everyone’s moving towards – if you look at Kim Jones, or Riccardo Tisci, or Rihanna, or Kylie Jenner, or Kanye, or Drake. I don’t know how long that’s going to last for, that way of thinking is actually super old-school.

When was the last Pigeon thing, up until today?
There’s variations, we did a Timberland collaboration last year that had a pigeon mark but wasn’t ‘Pigeon’ colourwayed. Before that it was a three pack with Clarks – we did a Wallabee, a Tawyer Helix and a regular Tawyer.

And what are your expectations of the launch? I know that they’ve gone to a raffle system.
I think the raffle system stuff is like a good responsible way to like sell shoes which maybe they learned from past experiences like the original Pigeon Dunk riot. Hence the raffles and the contests and stuff like that. A couple of months ago I was at the NikeLab in New York, I was with my mom and she wanted to get some kicks so I took her there. As we walked out of the store that happened to be the day before they were releasing the Supreme Air Max 98, so they were putting up a maze of barricades – as if it were a rollercoaster at an amusement park. My mom had no idea what was going on and she asked the manager ‘What are you guys doing? Why are you putting up all these barriers to close off Mercer Street?’ He was like ‘We’re releasing a sneaker tomorrow,’ and she said ‘So? I don’t understand what the correlation is.’ He said ‘You should ask your son. It’s because of him that we have to do these things now. We learnt from his mistake.’ [Laughs]

What’s next for the Pigeon in terms of footwear? I hear rumours that there was a couple of new things happening.
I can confirm some of the rumours. We’re doing a FILA collaboration which I’m really excited about because it’s really actually apparel as well as footwear. It’s an entire capsule collection and the timing is perfect, FILA’s on fire right now. They’re doing a lot of great collaborations coming up in the future so I feel the timing of this is really good. We’ve been working on it for nine months now.We have another collaboration coming with PUMA in September. It’s a four-piece collection and it’s really cool. I wanted to take it back a little to the hunt and the process of trying to get shoes. To break down the tiered model of distribution where stores all across the world get the same thing. It didn’t used to be that way right? It used to be regionally. So with this PUMA collection we did three Suedes, they look pretty different, but they’re essentially the abstracted colours of the Pigeon. So there’s black/pink, grey/pink and a white/pink. Each pair will be available in a different region.
One pair will only be available in North and South America, and the second one will on be available in Europe and the Middle East, and the third pair will only be available in the Aisa Pacific region. In order for you to get all three it does require you to hunt and dig a little bit. I wanted to bring that element back. Then we’re doing a fourth shoe which is the Blaze of Glory that looks hot as fuck. That will be at PUMA’s Cream accounts globally, so that one is for the world.

Thanks to SNEAKPEEK for hosting such a great event.

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