Any The College Dropout listening, Off-White™ x Nike AF1 wearing, archive streetwear collector, and fashion culture connoisseur will know all too well about Pastelle, Ye’s former clothing brand of the late 2000s, and will know how high the stakes of its comeback are.
Just last year, the rapper’s daughter North West was seen accompanying her mother Kim Kardashian in the streets of Paris, during Fashion Week. North West was wearing Balenciaga platform Crocs and Louis Vuitton 1.1 Millionaire sunnies – as any 10 year old would – but the standout piece was undoubtedly her blue and orange-detailed Pastelle varsity jacket. Whether West had just gone digging in her father’s archives or if this was a hint towards a Pastelle relaunch was the question that remained unanswered, until now.
In case you need a quick refresher on what exactly Pastelle is, it was founded by the artist formerly known as Kanye West back in 2008; his second attempt into a clothing brand after 2004’s Mascotte by K West. While Pastelle is widely remembered as West’s brand, let’s not forget the huge and influential manpower that worked behind the scenes to make this brand what it has become.
West’s core team, which worked on design and overall brand direction, included Virgil Abloh, Don C, Willo Perron, and Matt George. He consulted with now-Creative Director of Dior Men’s Kim Jones, tapped KAWS for a custom logo, and BAPE to help with distribution. To put it simply, Pastelle was connected with some of the biggest names in fashion, back when they were little known to the public eye.
Pastelle was the predecessor to streetwear’s takeover of high fashion that we’ve been witnessing since the mid-to-late 2010s. It paved the way for hip hop artists, such as Ye, to be taken seriously as an artistic visionary and fashion designer, not just a music artist. In many ways, Pharrell’s appointment at Louis Vuitton, following Virgil Abloh’s tenure, can both be traced back to the OG Pastelle days. And now, the brand is making its comeback.
Every relaunch needs a new face, and in Pastelle’s case we’ve got three – Christian Azzinaro, Bloody Osiris, and Ian Connor have each been tasked with upkeeping, polishing, and relaunching Pastelle. If these names ring a bell it’s because each of them have been in the fashion scene for a while, having worked with your favourite rapper and/or designer.
Best known for his co-founded label Polite Worldwide, Christian Azzinaro is an LA-based jeweller and designer whose pieces have been worn by anyone who’s anyone – we’re talking Rihanna, Drake, Justin Bieber, Kid Cudi, Harry Styles and countless others. This has only become a recent venture for Azzinaro, with the brand launching three years ago, though the designer has been about for much longer than that. He initially assisted Ye in the launch of Pastelle back in 2007, as well as working with Virgil Abloh on his DJ collective-turned-fashion brand, Been Trill.
Azzinaro’s background of experiences across brands and working with major talents such as Ye makes him the perfect candidate for this position, though he won’t be taking on Pastelle on his own. Bloody Osiris joins the roster of new-generation creative direction with his avant-garde fits that have been going viral since the mid 2010s. He has styled everyone from Travis Scott to Billie Eilish, while also having worked closely with Ye on his YEEZY line. He also modelled for Off-White™’s SS18 show, and partnered with VLONE for a collaborative footwear collection.
The last name to join this roster is Ian Connor, the most infamous name in this creative mashup. Ian Connor first rose to prominence during his modelling days, which saw him pose for brands such Pyrex, Stüssy, and BAPE before becoming Wiz Khalifa’s stylist. It didn’t take long for Connor to infiltrate the celebrity scene, spotted dining with Ye among others.
Connor then went on to work with Ye and Virgil, notably on some YEEZY ventures. From allegedly styling Kylie Jenner to being around Playboi Carti, Connor was the IYKYK of the hypebeast scene in the mid 2010s, often referred to as the it boy of streetwear. That was until accusations were made against Connor in 2016, although he has never been charged for his alleged misconduct.
With Ye’s own recent controversies that have seen him be banned from social media and (partially) shunned from the eye of culture, it seems like a particularly misguided choice to add Connor as fuel to the fire that already is a Ye-affiliated venture. And considering the rapper’s past with the three forces, it wouldn’t come as a surprise if Ye was pulling strings behind the scenes, still having his say in the creative direction.
Despite the associations attached to some of those spearheading the brand, the rebirth of Pastelle will undoubtedly still be the biggest disrupter to streetwear in fashion of the decade. The brand is said to “find balance in revisiting old designs while bringing modern ideas to the table,” by fusing “modern aesthetics and cultural depth that defines the range of collection pieces.”
Pastelle 2.0 is set to debut at the upcoming ComplexCon on November 18.
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