Exclusive JeffStaple x NFL Collaboration Collection Interview

With over 25 years of experience, jeffstaple continues to establish himself as the OG major figure in the streetwear world. In almost three decades, the designer has created his own cult following, known for the famous STAPLE mark and the ‘Pigeon’ logo. With plenty of collaborations under his belt, including the much talked about STAPLE x Nike SB “Pigeon” Dunk and his most recent collaboration with Crocs, Jeff continues to prove that he is a force to be reckoned with in the sneaker space. While this is happening, the founder of the quintessential streetwear brand is just scratching the surface of what he can bring to the culture.

Embarking on a brand new venture, Jeff has partnered with the NFL to offer sports and streetwear fans a selection of streetwear-inspired products. The new collection marks the first time a brand has partnered with all 32 league teams to produce a range of fan apparel, including streetwear essentials t-shirts, hoodies, pullovers, outerwear and hats. style. With the help of Fanatics, the Staple x NFL collaboration intersects sports fandom with streetwear culture and fashion, all in one. Hypebeast caught up with the designer himself to discuss how he plans to transform athletic merchandise into “essential” sportswear and streetwear pieces.

Jeff talked about the unique partnership with the NFL and how this is all starting to become a nationwide, and hopefully, global phenomenon. The designer explained that he owes it all to a “chain of events” that started when he worked alongside the Overwatch League, which in turn opened the doors for his brand to expand its partnerships with sports leagues. In the midst of discussing the beginning of the project, Jeff shared his most memorable NFL moment and how this new endeavor felt like a full-circle moment. Growing up in Detroit, he looked up to the Detroit Lions and especially Barry Sanders, who possessed a humble mindset that allowed him to have longevity and consistency in his career. With that mindset in mind, Jeff designed an entire three-part collection for his NFL partnership with the ambition that it will stand the test of time.

There are three sections to the collaboration: “Core”, “New Age Throwback” and “Fundamentals”. What inspired each of these design avenues and how do they differ from each other?

The reason why we decided to do three collections is that I realize that not only our brand STAPLE, but jeffstaple speaks to many different people. We are not so attached anymore. We’ve been around for a quarter of a century and we’re not the new kids on the block talking to the 1% of the coolest kids.

I recognize that, for example, when I talk to Hypbeast, I know there are guys who are cooler, more cutting edge. I recognize my stature and when I do this collection, I recognize that I’m talking to people who have been in streetwear for 30 years and to people who discovered streetwear this week. I wanted something democratic and one that everyone could understand, so it’s probably stronger and more youthful.

All 32 groups are exhibited in the first two collections listed. The latest collection combines all the NFL teams together.

Do you have a favorite piece in the collection?

There are two styles that I love that have definitely been inspired by what’s happening in vintage and thrifting. Some of these pieces look like they came straight out of a store – there’s even one piece that has a hood under a shirt. It just goes back to when I fell in love with the NFL in the 80’s and 90’s in my childhood. There is one flannel-like piece in the collection where it’s actually a long-sleeve crewneck with the numbers and graphics on the neck lining. That’s really cool for me because we weren’t actually allowed to do jerseys on the field, so we had to go around it with a hacker mentality and navigate as close to the norm as possible, which is streetwear culture.

Every team in the NFL has its own core values ​​– how do each of the team’s attributes play a role in inspiring the designs for the collection?

In fact, we have the branding guidelines for every NFL team to work on. And I didn’t even realize this, but every NFL team has their own motto, it shows who they are to the people who represent themselves with the sports team. That representation – that’s what community is all about and it’s similar to streetwear. When people wear a Supreme or Awake or STAPLE shirt, they really feel like they’re part of that movement.

The cool thing about this collaboration is that I get to use the STAPLE mascot “Pigeon” – which I’ve been very influenced by sports teams. As for my designs and referencing past streetwear eras, I didn’t have to because I was referring to athleisure trends.

Design-wise, which team shirt design are you gravitating towards?

Detroit is my favorite team. There is something so unique about the Detroit Lions colorway of blue, gray, silver, white and black. The second team is the Pittsburgh Steelers. If you look at the Steelers logo, they have their primary colors of black and yellow and white, but then they have this flag and diamonds in different colors that make it more complex in design.

How much of the “graffiti artist mentality” you so often talked about has been used for this partnership with the NFL?

Yes absolutely. That’s probably why we made three different collections. I want people to feel like the collection is like a volume dial where they could choose if they wanted to feel a lot more STAPLE and dove, or if they wanted to be a lot more NFL for both the team and the fan. The collection is aimed at the STAPLE streetwear die-hard Hypebeast who may not be a huge NFL fan, but it also speaks to the die-hard NFL fan with minimal exposure to streetwear. I think there is something for everyone in the sense that there are pieces that will speak to everyone equally well. And when you start thinking about it that way, that’s why the collection gets pretty big.

Streetwear and athleisure have always gone hand in hand, what’s it like for these two aesthetics to collide?

I’d say if you did a DNA analysis of street culture, sports would be a huge piece of that pie. I think street culture and sports are inherently linked forever. People are still waiting in line for Air Jordan 1s because of the man who dunked from the free throw line. I think sport is rooted in pure skill and performance with no BS. We keep coming back to sports because we know athletes like Serena [Williams] it is perfect. This is a statistical fact and not just hype.

I think the sports industry is forever linked to streetwear. With this collaboration, I honestly put the weight on my shoulders. I feel like if it’s a bombshell or a killer collaboration, I’m actually affecting every other streetwear brand’s opportunity to do it. If I do something too risky or hard-edged, they might think, “It’s still too specialized. It’s still very hardcore, we’ll have to hold off on all streetwear collaborations for the next five years.” I know that’s how the big companies think and I really put that pressure on myself because of my position in the industry. It’s my job to help keep the door open for the next generation to come.

With 25 years in the industry, you’ve seen it go from niche interest to global interest. How do you think street style has evolved over the decades?

I think there are many different entry points into the industry. There’s someone who’s a multi-millionaire and his first foray into streetwear. On the other hand, there might be a kid who works at McDonald’s making $12 an hour and their first foray into streetwear is a dad hat they bought at the mall. Both of these people are in the culture and both of them are in the bubble.

It’s important to me when I design, that it’s more democratic than elite or exclusive if you will – especially because the NFL is democratic and sports is democratic and because of my position in the field. I think that if Virgil [Abloh], may he rest in peace, he did a collaboration with an entire league, he can do a more exclusive luxury version because that’s what people know him for. But I think, for me, the vision that I put myself in as an ambassador, I want everyone to enjoy it. With this collection, I feel like if you’re an NFL fan, you shouldn’t have to pay crazy prices or wait in a crazy long line for it. This is why Fanatic is great as a partner – they make it as accessible and easy as possible.

You predicted a few years ago that collaborations would continue to grow, especially those with high fashion. Some have said there are too many on the market. What are your thoughts on the streetwear collaborations flooding the market?

I think they will continue to multiply and continue to grow to the amount you see. But the ones that stand the test of time and the ones that truly last forever will be few and far between. The reason for this is that the term partnership is now a marketing touchpoint. Big collaborations will continue to make headlines, but the question is, will they last? These days you can’t expect such partnerships to last decades.

To wrap things up, do you have a favorite NFL player when it comes to style?

Oh sure, OBJ. He’s like the Pharrell or Kanye of sports.

Fans can purchase the official STAPLE x NFL Collection at Fanatics, NFLShop and select NFL team online stores and stadium stores.

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