Pop Trading Company has a pop-up shop in London this week, so at the opening night we headed into town, took some pictures, and caught up with the Amsterdam’s based brands co-founder Peter Kolks. Here is a quick chat about what they have planned, skateboarding and what the future holds for POP.
This is Peter and his photographer friend Hugo.
Hello Peter, for those that don’t already know, can you tell us a little more about POP, from its beginnings, who’s involved and how it came about?
PK: POP started in 2013, my partner Ric and I began as a distributor for skateboard brands such as Palace, Polar and Quartersnacks. Then come 2016 we released our first collection with POP Trading Company, making a brand that takes our roots in skateboarding, but focused on making quality garments with a menswear spin to it. We wanted to do something different to what most skate/apparel brands are doing, using Fruit of the Loom or Gildan tees, made in China hats etc. We create a nice feel to product, have our own cuts and look. We produce our stuff in Portugal, hats made in the U.S etc. Basically, a more considered skateboard apparel brand.
You are in some major stores around the world, us being one of them, skating has always come first for you guys so was it a natural progression to fall into the fashion world. If not, how did you get to where you are now?
PK: Thanks man! We are stoked to be there as well, and obviously stoked to work with you guys! We just got lucky I reckon, via a mutual friend we got hooked up with Greg at DMSR who runs our showroom in Paris. We got approached and were like “Paris!?! Fashion week!?! How!?!”
It basically ended up with us showing our aw17 collection in Paris. First skateboarding brand ever to be there pfw!! Hahah!
I think it’s a good spot for us, we have a mixed distribution from some of the best stores in the world, both in skate and in contemporary menswear. It’s rad.
You have taken over a space with our good friends at another shop in soho London from the 27th of April to the 4th of May. Have you got any surprises up your sleeves and what will you be showing?
PK: Well by the time this comes out I think most surprises will be out already, haha, but we have a lot lined up. From showing our full ss18 range to some London exclusive bits to the collab with wayward London. On top of that we have a full week of activations, ranging from a Saturday skate session at Canada Water together with Converse Cons, a pub quiz for all skate nerds and a banging closing party at the Ace hotel!
When designing and planning your collections, is there still someone you are thinking of when coming up with new ideas? In your look-books and media we have noticed a recurrence of faces, who are these guys and are they an intentional representation of the brand?
PK: I guess we are pretty selfish when it comes to designing the range, it’s really just the stuff we like, no concessions made. So, answering your questions who that would be, 2 lazy skateboarders in their 30’s haha… the faces you see in our look book are all our team riders. We support a crew of 15 guys who you can see in all our content from skate clips to photos, and also the look-book photography by Koers von Cremer is done with these guys. It shows the contrasts in our brand, the rough side of skating, but also the aesthetically pleasing. Our team is made up of some really strong personalities, this shows through their skating, but also through the way they dress themselves or behave in front of a lens in a fancy studio. I feel it’s important to tell both stories, it’s not all pretty boys, but they literally are the brand.
You take inspiration from old skate imagery and media for prints in your collections do you have your own archive, or do you take these from friends you have made over the years through skating?
PK: Yeah, this is something that just kind of comes naturally, I have a pretty good memory, and have a big archive of old VHS tapes, magazines from the 90’s/2000’s and basically a lot of good memories to these nostalgic times I grew up skating. It’s just kind of all I know really, haha.
In the early days, you both worked in skate shops and in menswear stores, how has that influenced your past and future collections?
PK: I reckon our range is best described as a menswear inspired skateboard apparel brand, or the other way around. We have both worked in skate shops for a long time, the skate shop we worked in was opposite possibly one of the best menswear retailers in Europe called the globe. They were the first to stock Stone Island in Holland way back when.
We always went shopping there and later on I started working for 290sqm in Amsterdam where they sold Our Legacy, A.P.C, Arcteryx Veilance etc.
I mean you grow up; you get other interests; skateboarding is already heavily style conscious and very much involved in garments and shoes etc. It’s just an organic way of how things grew for us, and this is our little world, we created the stuff we like.
With streetwear now so integral in fashion, skate style and its subcultures now go beyond being able to land a kick flip. Do you feel skate style and the culture is bigger than it has ever been right now? If so, who do you feel is responsible for the rise in this scene?
PK: Obviously it’s big, it’s massive, it’s just part of youth culture in a way, like hip hop or something. I mean skateboarding still has and will always remain having its own pockets of people doing their own thing, the more niche world of real skateboarders, even if trends die down.
Right now, brands like supreme and palace are just there to fulfil a gap in the market that is catered to young people trying to be unique, not even skateboarders anymore really.
It’s a weird place, in a way it’s good it’s happening, but it’s also very oversaturated. I prefer not to think about it too much, as mentioned before we have our own little world, let’s just keep it at that.
We are going in a little deep here, but do you agree with high fashion houses conscious effort to have a street style? Or do you feel, like yourselves, it should be an evolution of your culture?
PK: Obviously as a skateboarder I feel it should be your passion first, always. As mentioned before, this is all I know, I couldn’t flip this around and be some Virgil Abloh kind of guy and talk about “culture” all day in the name of Louis Vuitton. As a skateboarder you’re quick to weed out the posers, and I would feel like a total dick talking about stuff or representing a culture I know nothing about, or for a company that is not that at all. Then again for the right amount of money there is always a way to bend the story to your advantage.
Skateboarding is in the Olympics for the first time, what’s your thoughts on this?
PK: I am curious how this will turn out. I am not against it, because it can also bring positive things to the sport, but it’s not really our cup of tea. We are more for skateboarding on the street. For the AW18 collection we actually made an Olympic merch tee as a little nod to this happening, it has a double meaning for sure cause we would be the last company involved in the Olympics from a skateboarding perspective.
We are on our second season with pop in store and you are building a nice little following, what does the future hold for pop?
PK: Ah that’s good to hear! We are working on the new ranges for AW18 and SS19 which will hold some new styles, some pretty cool artist collaborations and a few nice other collaborations as well ranging from apparel to footwear, all of this we can’t really talk about yet, but trust me there is a lot of good stuff coming up!
Thanks for this Peter and thanks for the beers, it’s always a pleasure speaking with you. Let’s finish off with some quick-fire questions.
Best skate park? The skatepark of Amsterdam - Noord
What’s your favourite POP piece since launching the brand and why? I think the black DRS Ribcord Pullover Jacket. It is the perfect explanation of what POP is about, taking a vintage Droors jacket silhouette, making it up in a corduroy cotton with minimal pop branding on the side and back neck.
What’s your favourite track to skate to? At the moment – Grace Jones: Pull Up to the Bumper
Best city to skate in? The most comfortable Barcelona, best looking probably NYC, but still Amsterdam is the best city in general though!
What’s your perfect day off? No plans, just chilling, eating, and seeing the homies. Been too long since I had a proper day off!
You can shop the latest POP collection here.