Finally, the brand will make its official debut at this year’s ComplexCon in Long Beach.
Conceived in the late 2000s, Kanye West’s Pastelle was meant to be the rapper’s first streetwear clothing line. An initial attempt was made in 2004 with the ‘Mascotte By K West‘ project, but it was ultimately abandoned in 2004.
‘Pastelle’ began in 2007 as an ambitious project that rallied around it a large team of designers and creatives of the caliber of Virgil Abloh, Don C, Willo Perron, Matt George, and Kim Jones, recruited by West as consultants to the brand. Other notable names such as Emma Hedlund and Saif Baker, who became known for the CMMN SWDN brands, Ben Baller for accessories, Retrosuperfuture for sunglasses, KAWS for a custom logo, and BAPE for distribution, helped forge the reputation of this brand-collective. YE‘s initial idea was to gather the best streetwear designers to make up for his shortcomings as a designer; however, without his creative and visionary drive, the idea would never have been conceived, especially at the time.
Many pieces drew inspiration from vintage styles, reimagined from models found in thrift stores and among designers’ offerings like Phillip Lim, Kris Van Assche, and Alexander McQueen in the flea markets of Los Angeles. The iconic blue Varsity Jacket, which we’ll delve into shortly, was inspired by the leather jackets frequently seen in West’s music videos. When he saw it, he exclaimed, “Yo, we should make jackets like this.”
Despite good intentions and the idea of creative collaboration within the collective, some industry insiders immediately complained that Pastelle was “all Kanye.” The rapper seemed to want control over every aspect, knowing every minute detail, limiting the work of the creatives involved. Kanye West spent a lot of time in Pastelle‘s offices, showing an obsessive interest in every aspect of the brand.
Pastelle‘s grand debut was planned for 2009, and the hype had already been building for the previous two years. Kanye had friends and family wear Pastelle pieces, fueling fan anticipation.
Everything was ready for the official launch until the 2009 MTV Video Music Awards took place. Kanye took the stage to defend his friend Beyoncé, launching an attack on young Taylor Swift at her first-ever win for Video of the Year. Controversies surrounding his behavior abounded, and West decided to step away from the spotlight for a while.
Pastelle’s offices in Los Angeles closed shortly thereafter, and along with them, all plans for standalone stores in the United States disappeared. After the storm of the 2009 MTV Video Music Awards, many Pastelle samples remained, but the brand never went into production. Many collaborators were never paid, and many only learned of the brand‘s failure by reading online news. Some speculated that West’s mother’s death had diverted him from the project, while others argued that his music production had taken precedence.
How much does Kanye West’s Pastelle Varsity Jacket cost?
From that point on, the name Pastelle became a legend in streetwear fashion, with rare pieces selling for up to $10,000. The last appearance of the legendary blue Varsity Jacket was thanks to North West, who wore her father’s iconic jacket during Paris Fashion Week in July 2022.
Finally, the brand will make its official debut at this year’s ComplexCon in Long Beach. Attendees can expect an experience inspired by the Louvre and the launch of exclusive products during the two-day festival starting on November 18th. In a statement, Bee Nguyen, managing partner, expressed the enthusiasm that the new Pastelle team felt in the days leading up to the launch:
“We’re excited to finally bring to life a brand that has historical significance in culture but has never been formally brought to market, and with the cyclical nature of fashion, this is the perfect time for the launch,” he declared.
The brand, formally founded by Kanye West in 2008, now boasts a new team of designers, led by Ian Connor, who currently serves as the brand’s creative director. After ComplexCon and in the coming months, cities like New York, Los Angeles, Paris, London, and Japan will see their Pastelle pop-up stores, officially launching the brand into the market.