Danny O’Neill sits down with Abhi Janamanchi to discuss the past, present, and future of one of today’s most visually stimulating and authentic fashion brands.
DO Can you intro yourself and what your role is at le PÈRE?
AJ I’m Abhi Janamanchi, le PÈRE’s Brand Director and part of the founding team. My day-to-day consists of being the eyes and ears of the brand, overseeing creative as well as larger brand strategy, PR and marketing initiatives, and managing our community both online and around our new flagship store at 90 Orchard in New York City.
DO Can you describe a bit about how le PÈRE came together and how you got involved?
AJ While building the music label AWAL, I discovered a fascinating network of young creators, supremely talented in graphic design, illustration, photography, and visual arts, all influencing pop culture in a seismic way. This emerging creative community was making some of the most iconic and influential art and style of our generation, from Frank Ocean to Kaytranada, Aminé, Post Malone, Brockhampton, and Travis Scott, etc. The closer I became with this community the more I realized that one of the best ways these graphic artists could express themselves in the real world, and connect their art with people, was to use clothing and fashion as the canvas for their work. And despite their large followings on social media, most lacked the resources and access to work in fashion.
le PÈRE was then founded as a vehicle and clothing brand that seeks to collaborate with these emerging artists to bring their works to life throughout each collection.
DO Was fashion something you always had aspirations to get into?
AJ I never imagined myself working in fashion. But now that I’m here it feels very much like an extension of my music community. From outside looking in, what I thought would be a very different industry turns out to be much more familiar than I ever expected. I think that’s because music and fashion are both at the forefront of paving the way forward for young people. At the heart the essense of them both are about self-expression and pushing boundaries to create something new and inspiring.
DO What is it about le PÈRE’s brand identity that stood out to you most?
AJ From a narrative perspective, I love our exploration of what we call “sensual masculinity,” turning traditional masculine expressions on their head in almost a subversive and subliminal way. It creates this tension between the fearless and the sensual attitudes of masculinity, layered with dramatic and emotive sensibilities that elevate the codes of traditional streetwear. And it just makes everything a hell of a lot more fun.
In addition, being able to champion and uplift emerging artists across disciplines who continue to inspire us has been a gratifying experience.
DO How important is building a community for a new brand, and what are some of the best ways to do that?
AJ For me, Le PÈRE is synonymous with the word Community. One cannot, and should not, exist without the other. We call our community the “Quartier” and it is at the heart of everything we do. From our products, our events, our content, our approach to collaborations, it’s at the core of our DNA. That’s why we felt we had to open a store, and why we chose the Lower East Side. This is where our community eat, drinks, parties, hangs out. So we said no to Soho and chose to plant ourselves in the midst of our friends and family. Every Friday night we have “Les Amis” Happy Hours where people bring a bottle and come enjoy good music and good people.
DO What about challenges – what has proven most difficult/challenging as you build le PÈRE?
AJ Like many startups, I feel like I’m always working on a million different things with limited resources. I think that kind of pressure ultimately allows you to be more nimble, but it’d be nice to clone myself too. The challenge of learning to prioritize and not taking on too many projects for the brand has been a valuable lesson as well as helping us hone in our perspective. Alignment has become the first thing I think about when presented with different opportunities for collaborations, events, and other touchpoints for le PÈRE.
DO If you had to summarize le PÈRE’s overall brand identity in a few words?
AJ Arthouse collective meets luxury contemporary menswear brand.
DO You just opened a retail location in NYC – can you talk a bit about that process, and why you chose this time and that location?
AJ Opening a flagship has been a goal of ours from the outset. From the initial conception of the brand, we always dreamed of having a physical hub that combined retail, art, communal events, and music. Having a multi-purpose space that represents the eclectic nature of the brand while also showcasing our collection in the best way possible was the main objective. Giving people the opportunity to touch and feel the clothing in person, especially in our home base of NYC, was an important next step in the development and growth of le PÈRE.
Working with BoND Architecture, we conceptualized a simultaneously minimal yet elegant retail store that drew from our inspirations and stayed true to the underground-meets-high brow nature of the brand. The Lower East Side also felt like the perfect place to create this space due to its similarly eclectic nature and the intersection of all these different creative scenes down here.
DO Who/what inspires you most in fashion? What other sources of inspiration do you have?
AJ In terms of fashion influences – Dries Van Noten, Martin Margiela, Martine Rose, and the short-lived experiment that was PASTELLE had a hugely formative impact on me. Their ability to stay true to what their brand ethos is without compromising their vision for commercial short-termism is remarkable.
Virgil, like for many so other people, was someone that was a constant source of inspiration through his ability to inject a level of thoughtfulness and precision to what was diminished as “streetwear” for so many years. I also loved his eagerness to uplift and promote young talent across fashion, music, and entertainment. Having a public figure like him in fashion that sought to share resources and demystify the process at that scale was incredibly rare.
DO What is le PÈRE’s biggest goal/objective in the next year?
AJ Our Flagship will become a magnate for creatives and taste makers. And a hub for our community. While we focus on growing that, we will continue to grow our stockist accounts around the world. We are now in Canada, Spain, Korea, France, Germany, and the U.S. So we still have enormous potential for growth. And our collections continue to get better and better as we keep going so truly the dream is to be able to just keep doing what we’re doing at a larger scale.