No Pistols Permitted At The Beach : BrainBandits sit down with Kevin O’Brien, Creator of Streetwear Brand Pistols in Paradise
Arizona is the state that McCain built. It is also the state that racial tension divided. Arizona boasts some of the nation’s hottest weather and most lenient gun laws. It truly is the wild wild west. But out of all this chaos and uncertainty, something beautiful emerged. An idea. An idea that no matter your surroundings you can always make it to paradise. Hard work and determination will always beat the odds. Today we bring you a 22 year old visionary that hasn’t yet made it to paradise but he’s well on his way.
Name: Kevin (Crook) Age: 22 Location: Tucson , Arizona
BB : First off, what does Pistols In Paradise mean?
PP : Pistols In Paradise is a gritty and witty underground street-wear brand out of Arizona. We exist to bridge a gap that no one really has before, between the streets and the beach. It’s a quest for a better life and at the same time staying true to the inner city elements that you rose from. In a bio I wrote about the brand before I said it’s a mixture of feung shui and gun play, I think that’s a great way to look at it.
BB : I definitely get that vibe . When did Pistols and Paradise come into fruition? and what was the reason you started a clothing line?
PP : Maybe a year and a half ago….I don’t keep records like that. There wasn’t a grandiose opening party I’ll tell you that…It’s been a super underground movement from the jump…I would meet people up in parking lots late at night to sell shirts..and still do….My reasoning for doing all this though is because I have a vision, it’s certainly not a get rich quick scheme…there’s a huge vacancy in REAL streetwear…so I’m just a chef trying to keep the streets fed.
(More after the jump)
BB : Thats really inspiring , you get it done by any means .Where did you draw inspiration from for your line?
PP : Seen a lot done a lot honestly. Everything’s really personal to me, I don’t design a shirt with the customer in mind at all.
BB : Thats a good way to be , when you focus on what people like and are into..it kind of skews your vision. What hardships did you face starting a clothing line?
PP : Money….procrastination….motivation….lack of sleep.
BB : Thats pretty heavy. So all of us @ BrainBandits are either from NJ,NY or Philly so our streetwear scenes tend to revolve around local stores like Supreme..Black Scale..Prohibit..Bape etc..Our scenes are pretty healthy I guess due to the fact we have flagship stores all within train or driving distance. We dont really hear about anything on the west coast besides Los Angeles and maybe San Fran. So whats the scene like in Tucson?
PP : That’s what’s up I’ve spent time in both Harlem and Philly and love the atmosphere.. That’s the thing though, coming from Tucson is like coming from way the fuck out of left field..Odds are against you trying to make something like a clothing line pop here…We kinda just been plugging away at new ideas on how to make it all bubble…It’s definitely a trial and error thing with me…Recently we’ve been throwing sidewalk sales, I came up with the idea to build a display out of cinderblocks and a shower rod. Hood ingenuity at it’s finest.
BB : Thats some real MacGyver shit . With the oversaturation of streetwear brands from seemingly everyone who has Abobe Creative Suite and access to a silk screener , How do you plan on receiving proper recognition and ultimately remaining succesful?
PP : Quite often people hop into the clothing game for the wrong reasons. “Up and coming” clothing brands are a dime a dozen on twitter. I think people just like to be able to say they are the CEO of something…I dunno…That’s just not me. I’m very low key, very in tune with the struggle still…I grew up around a wide assortment of the elements you see on the shirts so there’s an authenticity to the movement…The transition to paradise isn’t suppose to be easy …shit I still punch a time clock every morning at 7:30.. I have absolutely no background in fashion design, marketing, promoting, advertising…nothing. A dollar and a dream attitude will make up for any of that though. And I vow to never put out wack shit.
BB : I have to admit my last question was a bit routine but personally I feel as though you are going to be the next big thing in streetwear. You have a fresh concept thats well executed. Your price point is great (Tees for Under 25 and Crewnecks for Under 35) and the name Pistols in Paradise just sounds organic and timeless. I kind of got off track but your brand came to my attention through the wonderful world of social media and more specifically my tumblr dashboard. How do you feel about social media in relation to your brand? Is it a gift or curse?
PP : Gift definitely. It helps get Pistols In Paradise seen in places that I would have never imagined. Probably 60% of the online orders I fulfill are from the U.K. or Australia. I remember laughing when I got an order from Austria…it just seemed super random but it’s inspiring to see that the shirts can transcend borders and cultures like that..
BB: Alright heres my personal rant regarding social media . I feel if you have something good whether it be clothing , music or any creative outlet , it stands out online because 99 percent of stuff out there is bullshit. But on the inverse , social media can be a succubus that dries the life force out of things..Trends come and go quicker. Everyone has access to what once was a secret society. Things that once were known by few are on a “tumblr dashboard near you” with endless reblogs and no prior knowledge of the history behind these images.
PP : Definitely feel you on that, I would keep everything in the streets and build solely off word of mouth if possible..that builds a stronger cult following, but it really isn’t plausible for me in a small city. I rather load my car up with shirts and go to a venue in another city then sit on tumblr uploading pictures though…It shows people that you’re really out there hustling and not a jpeg.
BB : I frequent blogs like Highsnobiety and Hypebeast. One day I was reading a post about Nicky Diamonds of Diamond supply and I scrolled down and read through the comment section. I saw a barrage of comments claiming Nicky “sold out” because of his large production runs and Diamond being sold at mall retailers such as Zumies.I thought to myself “Isnt the point of doing anything ,doing it to the max”. As a participant in the streetwear scene I know how fickle people become when they witness their favorite brands become mainstream. Its almost like you cant be successful without comprimising your intergrity to these people . So as a designer how do you plan to balance? Do you go the ‘Crisp by Yosi’ route and make bucks or go the Supreme route and stay somewhat exclusive and have longevity ?
PP : Yeah that seems to be the popular fork in the road when doing streetwear….I can see both sides of it…fans are mad when something that was exclusive becomes common knowledge. I can’t say hes wrong for doing that though, money talks…and Zumies was probably beating his door down with crazy offers..Personally I think I’ll go the supreme route…I like to package every order myself…I’d like to get in a select few streetwear shops that I feel would be strategic as far as growth goes but that’s about it.
BB : Dope. What do you have in store for ‘Pistols in Paradise’ in the future? Would you guys consider Cut and Sew, Hats, Outerwear etc, or strictly tees and crews?
PP : I’m a sucker for real hip hop. I’m going to go ahead and plug my boy and favorite artist Nickelus F.
I just did a Google map, I grew up and still live 406 miles away from a beach…I’m really living the testimony of Pistols In Paradise every single day…Brick by brick
Economy down, Pistols up