Jeff Staple Talks PacSun Expansion, Future of Reed Space and More

by on November 24, 2014

The recent undertaking of New York’s own Jeff Staple is something that he has been plotting on for quite a while now. If you are unaware, Jeff Staple is the owner of the famed Lower East Side street wear store Reed Space, which has become a fashion mainstay over a decade now.

The store has been host to a number of different events and has seen their fair share of countless collaborations throughout the years. But their latest venture may be their biggest yet, with their plans to branch out into a larger part of New York, the United States, and hopefully the world. Thursday night was just the initial step in that process, as Jeff’s vision finally came into fruition in front of close friends and family.

However, this process has not been a lonely one for Staple and his Reed Space partners. The brand has worked closely with the classic skate wear shop PacSun to provide an original and innovative style to the in-store shopping experience. In case you haven’t been keeping up with them, throughout the past few years PacSun has transitioned themselves away from their strictly skate wear based stores, and into street wear with the inclusion of brands like Black Scale, Crooks & Castles, ICNY, and of course Staple, within their store fronts. This decision to work with Reed Space brings about an unheralded event within street wear fashion. The fact that a small, one-off store like Reed Space is working in collaborating with a worldwide presence like PacSun is especially significant, now that street wear is larger than it’s ever been. What started as a place for Jeff and his friends to just hang out and discuss ideas looks to become a worldwide phenomena, and this is just the beginning.

The night started out simple enough, as close friends, family, and invitees made their way into the PacSun store located in Queens Center Mall. Upon entering everyone was attracted to the large center piece that had been constructed in the middle of the store. This piece was created with inspiration of Reed Space’s simplistic yet appealing aesthetic, and of course included a pattern of chairs, the stores signature logo. The center piece is now a permanent fixture within the store, and adds a new dimension to this re-invented PacSun brand. After chopping it up with guests, Jeff said a few words and thanked everyone for coming. The highlight of the night came when Queens’ own Action Bronson came front-and-center for an impromptu performance where he rapped songs like “Easy Rider”, “Amadu Diablo”, and even presented us with a new song straight from his own iPhone. This was an event that embodied everything great about street wear, with a night full of good vibes, music, and fashion.

To learn more about the collaboration, read our interview with Jeff Staple below.

ILS Magazine: Why did you turn to PacSun for this collaboration?

Jeff Staple: “I knew I wanted to expand across the country, I’ve been wanting to do that for a few years now. Really, I’ve always had one eye on a potential partner who could really take my vision with the spirit of ReedSpace and maintain it in a pure form. I’ve been seeing what PacSun has been doing for a while now, they’re really doing a great job in mall retail of really telling stories, you can see what they’ve done with Nike SB, Been Trill, A$AP, the Yeezus collection. I started the conversation with them, and the enthusiasm that they showed proved that this was the right choice to be made, that this was a good marriage, basically.”

Should brands be scared of what is so-called mainstream?

“I think the question to ask is: if you’re in business, should you be scared of mainstream, and if you’re in business, why? Businesses cost money to run, so you need to make money to make the business run. I don’t care how artistic you are, or what kind of a vision you’re trying to get out there, if you don’t have a way of funding your business, you’ll have no way of telling your story. So, if you want to be an artist, be an artist, but to me it’s like graffiti, why would you not want that shit all city? If you’re going to do graffiti on the side of a train, why would you do one train that goes here to here? No, you want all city. So when I look at that logo up there, I think that I’m going all city, all world.”

In order to appeal to the masses, do you have to sacrifice the creativity or integrity of your work?

“No, absolutely not. I don’t have to sacrifice creativity or integrity, but what you do have to do is understand the audience that you’re speaking to is slightly different, so you’ve got to bring them in in a different way. It’s kind of like when you DJ an event, when you DJ it’s your own style that you’re bringing out, but when you’re DJ-ing a club in LA versus a club in New York, you’ve got to start with different songs. It’s all about the presentation, you’ve got to do what will draw people in. A lot of the mall consumer, they might understand what street culture and youth culture is, but they don’t look at Hypebeast everyday, they don’t subscribe to Complex, they got other shit going on in their lives, but we try to present it so that it peaks their interest, get them educated and turn them into fans.”

Which is more important, a storefront, or an online presence?

“I think they’re equally important. In this day and age, online is definitely the future, it’s here, it’s obvious that you have to do it, but I think an in-store presence is so important. That interaction can’t happen online yet. ReedSpace has always been about being a community center. To be honest, when I opened ReedSpace twelve years ago, I didn’t even care if people bought shit, I just wanted a place where people could come hang out, share ideas, and my belief was that if I was able to create this space where people could share ideas, they would, in turn, buy something. The number one goal was to create this platform, and then hopefully they’ll shop. We’ve been open for twelve years now, knock on wood, and it’s still going, so I think that philosophy works, and I want to bring that philosophy into the mall.”

Do you plan on changing the culture of streetwear consumerism?

“I wish I was that lofty, but I’m not. I’m just trying to take what I find passionate, and bring it to other people, that’s all I’m trying to do, day by day, I’m not trying to change the world. I do think that what we’re doing with PacSun is groundbreaking, but, again, I’m not really trying to change the face of consumerism. I just went to get lunch a couple of hours ago and there were a bunch of kids hanging out at the food court, I want them to be hanging out here, looking at magazines, looking at new clothes, why not?”

How do you plan on expanding with the collaboration with PacSun?

“Right now we have three stores, so this week, San Francisco, LA, and Queens are all opening, which, by the way, is crazy that there’s ReedSpaces opening up and I’m not there, it’s kind of weird, but that’s what I have to accept as we’re growing. So, next year, the plan is to go to a dozen. The long-term vision is that, eventually, it’s like fifty, all across America, just imagine that network. To be honest, I don’t even know what could potentially happen, but to have that foundation laid where it’s almost like a network, from New York to LA, north and south, of all these ReedSpaces, I think some amazing shit’s gonna come out of it, so amazing that I don’t even know what it’s gonna be, but I have a feeling that having that platform is going to be amazing.”