Toronto-based model and designer Pierre Bassene is making waves globally with his striking designs. His brand PIERRE BASSENE WORLD encompasses streetwear elements with a firm grasp of functionality, and what works for the brand’s growing audience. Community is a strong focus for Pierre, as is his commitment to designing for people who think, and create for themselves.
We caught up with the designer to talk design inspiration, giving back to the community, and the benefits of being completely self taught.
I was really interested to hear that you’re completely self-taught: this seems like a rarity for emerging designers nowadays. Can you talk us through the process of how you came to designing, and what learning independently has brought to your brand?
I was always into clothes growing up—I grew up in France, where I’d spend time online and just take in different fashion and music references. When I first started designing, I just did it to stand out and to be different. I was already into individuality in my personal style, so I just started pushing that in the pieces I made.
I don’t really design just to drop, or just to put things on sale. I work slowly and thoughtfully, and my process consists of developing a sample, wearing it myself, seeing how it feels when I wear it, figuring out what I’d want to change… It’s always a process, and that way, I can get a full grasp of the piece and really understand it before releasing it to others.
My goal isn’t to just produce, produce, produce, and make pieces regardless of whether they’re really ready for release. I want to develop my pieces to the fullest,
giving my community the best I can give them.
From that, who (or what) are your main design inspirations and why?
I’m inspired by people around me, my life, and our lifestyle. I design for a community. That’s really what I have in mind when designing. I hope my community also gets inspired by the brand’s pieces, and that it makes them feel individual.
I love your signature fingerprint design—it seems to be a logo that speaks to identity and just looks really striking. What was the process and inspiration behind this?
The fingerprint is a symbol of connectedness and differences. Don’t get it twisted, it doesn’t mean I’m creating something for anyone and everyone to consume, because that would be just another mainstream brand that we’re used to seeing. I’m creating for people who make an effort to think for themselves.
A fingerprint is owned by everyone, but also unique to everyone. It’s intimate in that way. The fingerprint really belongs to the wearer, and I want it to be a tool for them to be able to make a statement. People should be able to wear a vision of themselves through the brand.
You’ve got quite a varied product range. Do you have a favourite piece? (Either to design, make or wear.)
My favourite design to wear is the PBW knit that hasn’t yet been released. I see it as such a staple piece and a classic. Looking to drop these in early 2022!
The PBW Original Raw Denim was one of my favourites to design. I used premium 12.75 OZ raw denim for those, and there are so many details. The fingerprint logo screen-printed on the front, fingerprint logo detailed buttons, lettered initials on the back pockets, contrast top-stitching, the leather patch on the back… There’s so much to that piece, and it all really came together.
I also loved designing the PBW Puffer Jacket that’s not out yet—I really pushed the details with that one too. The goal with it was to not use the fingerprint logo, but still represent it in some way. I still wanted to create the texture of the fingerprint, so I did that through organic shapes and lines. I felt texture in this one more than a hard logo. I’m thinking of releasing a Puffer Vest version of it.
I just finished PBW Cargo Pants yesterday too, with exposed pockets. I like to take a denim jean or cargo pant staple and add my own twist to it, like modular pockets. I love to change materials. I think that really represents Pierre Bassene World the most.
What would you say are the core elements of your brand?
Individuality, identity and community. These pieces are made for us by us.
There are obviously lots of young designers who are struggling to break the industry – do you have any advice for them, or things that you wish you’d known starting out?
I think, if you have to break into something, then you’re not really meant to be there. In my opinion, it’s important to design for yourself and your community, and create your own industry, rather than simply designing for others or for what the industry says. Do you, focus on yourself, and don’t get caught up in the industry. Break the rules. In terms of things I wish I’d known starting out, there’s honestly not much—I think you have to go through the motions, the steps, and the mistakes yourself, and that’s really how you learn.
What can we expect from you next?
We’re gonna keep creating our own world and our own community around it. Doing things our way, not following any roadmap or any plan. I’m finding new ways to create pieces that resonate, and ways to re-interpret pieces into something highly customised and highly individual.
Talent: Pierre Bassene represented by RX STUDIO
Director & Producer: Hannah Marie Simard
Photographer: Ryan William Craven
BTS Photographer: Matthew DeMelo
Stylist: Felicia Ann Ryan
Stylist’s Assistant: Marik Thexton
Makeup Artist: Jasmin Winnie-Stephen
Hair Stylist: Kaila Baker @kailabaker
Gaffer: Adrian Antonnechia
Set/Lighting Assistant: Fionn McDonnell & Jesse Lozier
Backdrops: Caitlin Doherty
Studio: Capsul Studios