I first heard the name jeffstaple and learned about his works back in the sneaker-hysteria days which has palpably cooled off in recent years. On the now defunct blog To Darrin Hudson, he was generously giving away his shoe collection because he was contemplating a move to Japan – which in the end didn’t go through. Being the shoe lover that I was, I anxiously put forth my bid for a pair of his collection. Unfortunately for me, I was unable to get my hands on a pair of his prized collection but fortunately for the city of NYC, he stayed and was able to bless the city with his designs, and projects.
Since then, he’s come a long way – opening one of NYC’s most unique shopping experiences in the Lower East Side, a magazine mirroring the ideology of the store, a successful clothing line which has made its way to several continents, and of course his forward thinking company which is at the heart of it all, Staple Design.
Below is an interview with Jeff that really gives us a glimpse of his beginnings and how you can never really escape who you are or what you’re meant to do.
Vidafine: I know I myself have read this question countless times in numerous interviews, but for our readers who may not be familiar with Staple Design, could you tell us about your company. Why you started it and what steps do you/your team take to find relevant projects?
jeffstaple: Staple Design is a creative agency. We work with some amazing clients and do some pretty cool and fun projects. We also do a menswear collection simply called STPL and a t-shirt graphic range called Staple. We also have a retail store and gallery called Reed Space. Out of Reed Space, we produce a print magazine entitled Reed Pages.
Why did it start? I dunno. It was asked of me so I would say I didn’t want to start a company, but people asked, so I obliged.
Fortunately for us, great projects find us. We don’t do sales. We don’t have account managers like other agencies. We don’t do pitches either. I basically guide the company along a river and we end up encountering the right people at the right time…most of the time.
Vidafine: What has been your most memorable moment of Staple Design since the very first days when you made your first batch of t-shirts?
jeffstaple: Oh man…literally every week there is a new memorable moment. There’s always something happening that makes me shake my head in disbelief at how good this is. I never take advantage of the fact that I am very lucky to wake up and love what I do.
Vidafine: You guys have made a conscious effort to produce quality designs and make it accessible to just about everyone who appreciates it (such as with your Airwalk and Urban Outfitters projects) How important is it for Staple Design to not come off as ‘snobbish’ and ‘pretentious’?
jeffstaple: I wouldn’t say it’s like a company initiative or anything. It’s just a way I prefer to operate. I feel like negativity breeds negativity. So if you’re going to be a dick, then people will be dicks to you and that just fosters all this bullshit. I don’t really like bullshit. I don’t really like drama. So I feel if we keep things positive, then living life will be much smoother and happier. So I should say it IS important, but it’s not like I have to keep reminding myself of it everyday. I couldn’t live any other way.
Vidafine: What is your goal for the company?
jeffstaple: Provoke thought. Make people think. About anything. Love. Hate. Their future. Their passions. Their misunderstandings. Their regrets. That’s all. And the tool that I use as my weapon is design. I feel design is a very powerful thing that has the ability to do this. And more.
Vidafine: There was a point in time when you wanted to sell off your shoe collection and move to Japan. What was it that made you re-think that and continue to run Staple Design / Reed Space primarily out of NYC?
jeffstaple: After spending some more time in Japan, I realized two things. One, that Japan, while being one of the dopest cities in the world, has many shortcomings that I don’t think I could have overcome. And two, I realized how amazing NYC is. I realized, while on the brink of leaving, that I can never really leave New York.
Vidafine: Where do you see streetwear 5 years down the line?
jeffstaple: Evolving. As it always has. As it always will. You might not even be able to recognize it anymore but it will always be there. Let me give you an example that happened tonight. I was looking at a pair of Visvim jeans I bought and wore tonight. These jeans cost somewhere around US$400. The back patch is a python snake leather patch. And where it’s supposed to be sewn is an outline stitch…but the actual patch is not where it’s supposed to be. It’s about a full inch off placement. It looks like it could be a mistake but it’s done in a way where you know it was a deliberate decision. I thought to myself, “That right there…is street culture.” That slightly skewed thinking is what street culture is all about. And it’s living in a $400 pair of jeans.
Vidafine: What makes a good design?
jeffstaple: Being able to communicate a message clearly. And interestingly. Ideally both. But often times just one will suffice.
Vidafine: Lastly, before we let you off the hook, do you have an inspirational quote, song, or book you want to share with us?
jeffstaple: “If I tell you I’m good, you’ll say I am boasting. But if I tell you I’m bad, you’ll know that I’m lying.” —B.L.
Throughout the last couple of years, jeffstaple has really made a mark for himself in the streetwear and design scene not just in New York but pretty much around world. A second Reed Space store was opened in Tokyo and much of his creative work takes him from country to country. He’s brought Staple Design, Reed Space, and his other projects to new heights through fresh designs stemming for the most part from the unique perspectives in the creativity process. We’d like to give a big thanks to jeffstaple for the interview (and Ana for making this happen). We’re looking forward to more great projects from the Staple Design camp.