Admittedly, I was quite reluctant to write a blog post about Places + Faces. The streetwear company has always held a special place in my heart, and it is still quite a relatively small name. I have only seen but a handful of students on campus wearing their merch, and therefore I still feel quite protective of them. Being part of a small, tight fanbase made it feel like a community of like-minded people with a similar vision. However, their latest news has inspired me so much, and I felt the urge to share it with as many people as possible, spreading their message and their beautiful, creative designs.
Places + Faces first began in the summer of 2013, with Londoner Imran Ciesay blagging his way into exclusive gigs in the heart of New York City. He was equipped with nothing but a camera, and all whilst oozing with confidence, he would claim to be part of a London company, allowing him to enter the clubs. Although throughout his time in the clubs Ciesay would take hundreds of photos, the artist was unsure at that time as to what to do with the photographs. He began to collaborate with his friend and colleague, the future co-founder of P+F, Solomon Boyede, and worked on setting up a Tumblr in order to provide the pair with a creative platform. One year later, they designed two hoodies for themselves. This was a kind of ‘business card’ and self-marketing strategy. However, when releasing photos wearing these hoodies, a sudden interest emerged and they began producing merch for their fans.
It is currently 2018 and the two artists have come a long way from sneaking into clubs. Ciesay and Soulz – as they call themselves – have now held exhibitions around the world, from London to Tokyo to New York. They showcase pictures of famous top-tier artists such as A$AP Rocky that they have the privilege of calling ‘friends’ rather than mere ‘associates’. The photographs are taken in a way that adds a sense of personal touch. Their films have an amateur feel about them, which creates a close bond between the viewer and the subject. Additionally, they have recently released a new mixtape, that can be found on Soundcloud. Whilst other companies might compile a bunch of ‘popular’ rap artists in order to appeal to the masses, P+F have decided to use their influential platform in order to push their friends’ music. In an interview with Redbull, Ciesay admits that many people focus so much on American Hip-Hop, that other genres that are just as great are often ignored.
“We just make [P+F] for ourselves and if people fuck with it then they fuck with it. That’s the whole mentality” – Ciesay, 2018
What I love most about Places + Faces is the amount of thought that goes into their company. It’s obvious when researching them that they have a solid structure as to how they’re going about running the business and the vision that they have in mind. Currently, Ciesay is working on changing their screen-printing to more cut and sew, in order to grow the brand by adding more items to their collection, such as denim jackets with matching bags.
But what does this all mean to us?
The reason why I felt so inspired after reading about P+F’s new projects is that it makes me believe that anyone can create something out of nothing. When we break down the barrier between the fancy words and the meaning of them, one comes to the realisation that this company started off with a guy taking some pictures in a club that he wasn’t even allowed to attend. Through hard work and commitment, they were able to create an artistic movement followed by thousands of like-minded youths.
None of their success is down to luck; it never is. The way to create a movement is by taking the first step. This is always said to be the hardest, but is in reality it is just making one’s dreams concrete. First steps don’t always have to mean setting up a company, either. A first step can be as simple as writing down one’s goals and taking some time to think about how you wish to achieve them.
One exercise that I have found extremely useful is that of visualisation. I step out of my current ‘self’, with my worries and stress of today, and think about how I was a year ago. What advice would I give my old self? What do I wish I had started then, for me to be different today? Once I find the answers, I take this knowledge and apply it to my current self. For example, if I wish I was more aware of current events, I would perhaps have wanted my ‘previous’ self to read the news more. Once I realised this, I might change my browser home page to BBC news. The first step begins with an action, and taking it further.
Whilst I might not be at the head of a youth-culture movement, I do have some smaller, personal goals that I want to achieve. Next year, I am to go on my Year Abroad where I wish to start my own company. I say this, but it is pointless me just wishing it. I have to take the first step, and take action and control of my future. Who knows what could happen next? I’m not too sure myself, but I do hope it doesn’t involve any dodgy photo taking in clubs.