5th & Fashion

During hip-hop’s infant years, Cazals and doorknockers were key accessories, and shell toes finished off the signature look. Parish Nation embraces the style and flare of the `80s and early `90s, revising New York and early hip-hop fashion. They’re new, different and surely will spark life through originality into fashion industry where everyone and their mothers own a T-shirt line. With years of experience at Enyce, Chaka Wilson and his partners take their knowledge and thirst for a culture they love and apply it to an industry they’ve mastered.

“With Parish we wanted the direction to come from us instead of go back to the
way things were when we first started Enyce, which was just a small group of us
enjoying what we’re doing which was designing.”

Me: Parish Nation is an interesting name, any particular meaning?

Parish: Well it literally means community. A group of individuals coming off of Enyce that represented NYC, which was kind of the little old translation for Enyce, and starting off from scratch with this new brand with just a small group of us sort of collectively conceptualizing everything from the direction of the brand, to design, to marketing, to most of what we do its done as a collective. Parish was sort of a representation of where we are right now as a company.

Me: How did the concept for Parish Nation come about?

Parish: I think when my partners all decided to leave Enyce we wanted to do something that represented our vision, as opposed to a corporate structure, you know a corporate dictate to what we do, what design, the type of stores we sell – overall with Enyce, it was a huge corporate oversight, which gave us direction. With Parish we wanted the direction to come from us instead of go back to the way things were when we first started Enyce, which was just a small group of us enjoying what we’re doing which was designing.

Me: What distinguishes Parish Nation from and Enyce?

Parish: I think the design. What we came up with is just a really modern art driven early hip-hop influenced collection. So I think that’s present throughout the collection. That was one of the things that was important for us to establish ourselves in a different direction. When you see the collection you’ll immediately notice the bold colors and a lot of the cool references; everything from Warhol to Gene Herring to Grandmaster Flash. You have all of those cool references in there and most of the collection is actually hand drawn! That’s one of the things you will see even though there’s similarities with us and not only Enyce, but other companies in terms of all-over prints and things of that nature which happens to be the current trend, but I think we sort of took that trend. And what with the different direction with most of it being hand drawn, I think one of the key components to our design team is that we have artists as opposed to designers. They approach each part of the collection as a canvas so you notice that each part of the collection is sort of one of a kind.

“When you see the collection you’ll immediately notice the bold colors and a lot
of the cool references; everything from Warhol to Gene Herring to Grandmaster
Flash.”

Me: Has the success of Enyce paved the way for Parish?

Parish: Absolutely, I mean Enyce established us in this business. What we did with Enyce gives us much creditability with this line even though it’s a great collection there’s a business end to any company. I think that’s one of things that gave us a leg up over any other up-start company that’s just coming into the game with no experience. I think the 10 years with Enyce is a pretty good track record so therefore buyers, manufacturers and venders – we sort of have the respect of a lot of people which in turn open a lot of doors for us.

Me: How has your experience been at the MAGIC Trade Show?

Parish: It’s been pretty good. We debuted the line a few months back. A lot of the buyers hadn’t even seen it or heard about it so the cool thing for us is that we have a tremendous buzz going into MAGIC. It’s not, again, like we’re a start up company that people are for the first time on the floor. The fact that we already have goods on the floor that are selling extremely well are giving the buyers a lot of confidence. The fact that they’re actually seeing some of the product out there on the street and on different individuals they really get to experience what we were explaining earlier on. The last MAGIC we were here right after leaving Enyce so we were really just observers, but we were trying to give a lot of the buyers an indication of what it was that we were coming up with. They support us which is a really good thing, because you know if we do well they do well in their stores so overall it’s been a very good experience and a positive experience this is the way MAGIC was for us in the beginning. It’s really cool to get back to that.

Me: How does it feel to go from founding established brands to creating a brand new line?

Parish: It’s great. There was a struggle but it was the only course of action. You know Enyce was great. We still love the brand. That’s kind of like our baby. We still have a lot of great friends over there, but it was time for us to sort of branch out and try something new. I think the market place needed something new, so it was cool that it would be us to do it as individuals recognized in the fashion community as innovative and well respected within the design community, and in turn get support from the other brands. I think that’s one of the things that’s made it less scary for us. We’ve got nothing but positive feedback from the fashion community so that’s given us some confidence.

Me: Lately, the fashion industry has been taking on an `80s trend. Why did you chose to use the `80s and early-`90s era as a theme for the line?

Parish: That’s the era that influenced us, especially those of us who are a little bit older. We definitely came of age, if you will, in the `80s as young teenagers so we definitely experienced the trends that are out there. When we started the collection we naturally wanted to use New York as a backdrop. We’ve always wanted a cool tie in into New York, it was important to show a lot of influences, pay homage to that.

Me: What are Parish Nation’s signature items or looks?

Parish: For spring, I would definitely say our Warhol influenced pieces. You have a cool reference point. You know pop art. I think that’s a strong part of our collection. And then we also have like the early hip-hop influential pieces which show the four elements of hip-hop. We have a piece that sort of shows respect to the DJ; we have one that represents the graffiti; we have one that represents breaking; [and] we have one that represents the emcee.

Me: What can we expect in the future from Parish Nation?

Parish: Just great artwork. Even if the reference may change, because we won’t be stuck in the `80s forever, but I think the artwork will remain consistent. The artwork is primary and whatever theme or reference sort of compliments artwork so that’s one of the things that remain consistent, that and quality clothing.

Published: Format Magazine

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~ by neorealist on February 27, 2007.

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