What a difference a year makes! Rewinding the clock back to January 2009, Chris Stamp was knocking out customs and laying the foundations for a fresh new sneaker brand. That brand was Stampd'LA and within a ridiculously busy first year, Chris has managed to go global and knock the big wigs for six with his simple, low-fi, easy-to-rock kicks. What sets Stampd'LA apart from the wrecking crew is his laidback Cali approach mixed in with a cut-throat work ethic that would make even Diddy crumble. And at the risk of taking a breather, Chris is gearing up for an even crazier 2011 with the launch of his new sneaker line, Study. Having caught up with the man at the inception of Stampd'LA, we thought it appropriate to revisit the man who looks set to inspire a whole new generation of heads.
Hey Chris! Where in the world are you coming to us today?
I'm actually sitting in my hotel room in Taipei - just got back from Hong Kong last night.. It's been a crazy trip..
Sounds like the globalisation of Stampd' LA has been treating you well!
Things are going great for us internationally. Thank god for the internet so I can stay connected daily with our guys abroad. On any given day I'll be in contact with our guys in Amsterdam who hold down the European market for us, while simultaneously talking with our factory in Guangzhou, and checking in with our distributor Ben in Australia. If we had only kept our focus on the US market things would not have progressed as quickly for us. Stampd' is now carried in over ten countries.
And to think you've only been going guns since '09...
It's definitely been a grind. I don't really leave the office (besides when I'm travelling), but I'm very lucky to be doing something I'm passionate about. When I'm in my office it's like being at home - sometimes it's hard to leave, I just want to continue to create and make better what I've already created. Also, we're always working off a design calendar, which is like living six months ahead of time; constantly living in the future makes things move very quickly..
Tell us about it... only a year ago heads wanted flashy limited editions and now it's done a 360 on itself! Stampd' were one of the first to cater to the more lo-fi market. What are your thoughts on this subsequent thirst for plimsole like kicks?
When I started Stampd' I wasn't aiming for a specific consumer, it was more about creating a new direction in the footwear market. All that was out there were limited Nikes, and the independent sneaker market was more geared towards the action sports consumers. From what I've seen recently, sneaker connoisseurs are moving further away from mass-market brands and are leaning towards upcoming / under the radar brands that bring something different to the table, not only through their products but also through the lifestyle they portray.
And as far as conceptualizing the coming seasons to keep it fresh...
For the past few seasons, I have had a general direction of which each collection has been based, setting the tone for how it all comes together. From there we work closely with our sales team as to what styles did best in the past, things we should drop/tweak and things that worked well in which we should carry through to the future.
So, working with Taz Arnold and his TI$A label was part of that plan then?
Working with Taz has been dope. He is a very talented dude, which makes the creative process a breeze. There was never a dull moment while we were conceptualizing for this project, it was one idea after the next. He looks at design and product from a different perspective than I do - a collector's perspective. Being attuned to every detail, the project came out really cohesive, from the three styles to the interchangeable Cloth Shoe bags turned hoods. We worked with one basic silhouette and used three murals Taz had painted for the artwork. We took high-resolution pictures of the murals and used those images to for the prints. Look out for the collection next month.
Just in time for your new line Study (Study For Shoes) to drop...what's the 411 on that?
Study was the next step for me, and something that I am really excited about. Stampd' LA has more boutique appeal where as Study is at a slightly lower price point, which makes it attainable to everyone. The main thing about Study is that it's a product with purpose - not only are we selling shoes, but supporting and inspiring kids in inner cities that don't have proper support systems to get them inspired to be eventually working in a creative field. We're setting up a program called ‘Study For Shoes' in which a portion of our profits are recycled back into schools, making creative tools for kids who would otherwise not be able to afford them. We want to help them achieve their dreams whether it be designing footwear, fashion, fine art or whatever excites them creatively. I just want to inspire young people with my story and if I can give just one kid the confidence to succeed than it's all worth it.
That kind of goes against the quote ‘don't be too serious, they're only shoes' you declared the last time we spoke!
Ha! I haven't heard that in a minute. As you get older and things mature in your company things begin to get more serious, especially if it's in regards to money or your career, but one of the reasons I work in the fashion industry is because of its laid back appeal. Sometimes I take sales meetings through Skype on my couch, or walk into distributor meetings wearing a snap back and shorts. It's a far cry from a typical 9-5, which at this point I don't think I could ever go back to. It gives me the time and opportunity to work on being creative, staying at the forefront of design, constantly pushing myself and the potential of Stampd'.
Maybe it's time to hang up that hang ten attitude then?
California culture and style will always reign supreme throughout our collections because it's my home; it's in my blood and a part of my everyday. Even though Stampd' is maturing and taking on a more tailored aesthetic, the laidback Cali lifestyle will always remain in the background of all my designs.