The Paris Saint Germain brand has taken a life of its own over the last few years. On one side you have a full-blown football club, with dedicated athletes focused on winning and on the other side you have the brand of PSG. I want to focus on the brand. Looking at soccer in reverse, I always look at what a club is doing off-pitch before I look at what is happening on the pitch. It’s like that comment, “I make shoe contact before I make eye contact.” As the sport of soccer looks to expand into the American market, the brand of a club is more important than ever. Having worked with PSG on various projects, I wanted to share how and why they leaned on the Kicks to the Pitch brand to deliver such a powerful message.
I was sitting in the Le Ballon Paris office about 4 years ago and the conversation of fashion came up. An American in France talking about fashion was interesting to start but the way the conversation ended was even more fascinating. I recall speaking about a brand I use to work with and my love for streetwear. Sharing my ins and outs of working in the streetwear world, I was told that someone at the PSG office had an interest in working with a few brands I had relationships with and they asked if it was ok to connect me with the club. Without hesitation, I quickly agreed and began the relationship with Paris Saint Germain.
My first visit to the office was a bit surreal. Having had no intentions to meet with them nor ever thinking we would on top of not knowing anyone to get in touch with at the club, this office visit came as a pleasant surprise. The train ride from the center part of Paris to the PSG office is about 50 minutes or so and as I rode the subway towards the office, I began to think how exciting this opportunity could be. With no more than two hours between the fashion conversation inside the Le Ballon office and my trip to the PSG HQ, I was sitting in the lobby of what would soon be one of the biggest projects Kicks to the Pitch has ever done.
I can remember meeting Fabien as he greeted me with a big smile and a handshake. He came down to meet me in the lobby and immediately seemed excited to chat about the world I came from. We took the elevator up to an office that was filled with everything PSG imaginable. He had a scooter, artwork, shoes, stuffed dolls, headphones, you name it he had it, all branded with the iconic PSG Crest. This was a man with a vision. I had no clue what the vision was at that moment but he had a keen eye for product, unlike anyone I had met before. Think about all the items Supreme has made but with PSG colors and branding x 10. The man I was sitting with was middle-aged, had long hair and spoke great English with a thick French accent. He was the Chief Brand Diversification Officer for PSG. His job was to make PSG cool through product.
As Fabien and I sat down to speak it was clear he had ideas to pitch. We started talking about how big streetwear was in America and the power that it had over various cultures. Fabien and I spoke about our various project backgrounds and ways we see culture intersect with soccer and at the end of our meeting he asked if I would be interested in creating a PSG activation in LA for the 2017 Summer Tour. What an exciting opportunity and looking back on that moment, I know that it was to what KTTP is today.
The process of creating a pop-up activation for PSG was something very different then our team had worked on in the past. A global powerhouse like the French club gave us both a platform to build our brand upon as well as pressure to succeed. As I thought of the various programming and products that would be important to this project, I thought about the staples of Los Angeles and the uniqueness of the city. The plan was to combine small and big brands into one space as collaborators with PSG as well as create a pop-up shop that was the retail home for PSG over a course of 8 days. We would call it LA Galerie.
Teaming up with Primitive skate, Beats by Dre, Jacks Surf shop, Antonio Brasko, The Seventh Letter and more, the Kicks to the Pitch team created what I think was a moment in soccer time where the tides changed a bit. I remember one night during a special event we hosted at the space we had PSG players, NBA Athletes, well-known artist and photographers all in the name of soccer. It was exactly what Kicks to the Pitch stood for and was happening in front of my eyes. One of the most interesting and possibly coolest things I got to experience was the opportunity to take the PSG brand and turn it into what we thought it should be for the lifestyle world audience. The trust and the rarity of this is unheard of and I will be forever thankful to Fabien for entrusting my brand with his club.
I would like to think that over the years the Kicks to the Pitch brand has become a voice that people look towards to gain insight on new trends and movement in the lifestyle space of the sport, and I am proud to say that this was a key moment where soccer and culture connected on a real level. Hosting a soccer pop up space on Fairfax in the heart of what is the streetwear mecca was something I could have only dreamed up when Kicks to the Pitch was created. The LA Galerie was the first of many things that PSG has turned to Kicks to the Pitch for and I am happy to say that on the 50 years of PSG, I will be able to share a little insight on how I and my team are now a part of the PSG brand story. 3 years before the Jordan collaboration we brought the brand of PSG to the streets in the United States and I am very proud to have that under my belt. The collection, the events, the partnerships all set the tone for what’s to come. Stay tuned!!