Q+A: Pigalle’s Stephane Ashpool

by April 22, 2014


by Abe Schwadron / photos via Nike

Nike is partnering with Pigalle, also known as the Pain O Chokolat crew, to release the Nike x PPP (Pain O Chokolat, PIGALLE Paris, Pompon) collection. It’s a premium basketball lifestyle collection dropping globally at Nike Sportswear retailers on April 26, featuring a special-edition Air  Force 1—in Hi and Low—plus a tank, short, hat and basketball.

We’ve been down with Pigalle for years, hyping their wildly fun hoops tournaments in the streets of downtown Paris. The Nike x PPP collection is both a celebration of Parisian street culture and a nod to hoops history, at the intersection of sport and style. Of particular note are the Air Force 1s, which Nike tells us are crafted using “techniques common to the construction of menswear brogues, excess padding is removed, leather laces are added, and an oversized gold metal eyelet accents the workman boot look.” The waxed coating of the leather uppers give the sneaker a rugged, concrete-ball feel, while the transparent outsoles are marked by  X’s and O’s, like those on a coach’s clipboard. You’ll recognize the “Nike Air” lettering and PPP logo in the photos above.

To learn more about the inspiration behind the Nike x PPP collaboration and what separates Pigalle’s unique style from previous Swoosh projects, we had Stephane Ashpool, founding member of Pigalle and the Pain O Chokolat crew, answer a few questions for us.

SLAM: What was the overall inspiration for the Nike x PPP Collection?

Stephane Ashpool: The overall inspiration comes from street basketball. Design-wise, I have always liked a vintage aesthetic through the use of patina, over washing, tie-dye and remixing of fabrics. These are all elements that I’m using in my own design. I also like the graphic combination of black and white.

SLAM: How does basketball specifically impact culture and style in (and for) Pigalle?

SA: In term of style, I’ve often referenced the basketball aesthetic either through fabrics or a way of wearing something on the court. Culture-wise, my brand ADN is basketball. I’ve been a ball player since I was 6 years old, and I love the outdoor game and the full lifestyle around it.

SLAM: In your mind, is there anything different about the impact of basketball on culture in Paris vs. in the United States?

SA: No, nothing too different. Of course we all develop our own flavor, but it’s definitely the same dynamic. But what I want bring is a certain allure to the basketball uniform, something more classy.

SLAM: Why did you pick the Air Force 1 as the shoe in the collection? What’s the significance?

SA: It’s one of the most iconic shoes. You can play ball in the Air Force 1 or party in them. It’s a lifestyle shoe that was very present all throughout my youth.

SLAM: How would you pitch the Nike x PPP Collection to an American basketball player?

SA: I wanted to bring a “fashion” element to the collection, seen either through the use of patina, the unique ways of tie-dying or the black and white graphics. I see people wearing the collection both on and off the court—in both situations they will look good.

SLAM: What specific cues did you take from street basketball that are implemented in the collection, like the patina?

SA: I referenced various elements that can be found on the court and the way they change over time. For example, leather from the ball, concrete from the ground, wood from the backboard, metal from the rim. Then I started to apply things like texture and colors.

SLAM: What’s it like to work with Nike to showcase the unique style of Pigalle? 

SA: Amazing! Nike is not just a brand to me, it’s also a group of creative individuals and friends I’ve known for many years. I’m very happy to share this project with everyone. Nike trusts in my vision, and it only makes me proud and motivated to work harder time and time again.