Everything started with a book, and now, six years later, a book marks an important milestone for Palm Angels once again.
Back in September 2014, Rizzoli published a photographic book collecting images of Venice Beach skateboarders shot by the brand’s founder Francesco Ragazzi. With a preface by Pharrell Williams, the tome was titled “Palm Angels” and served as the catalyst for Ragazzi’s launch of the titular fashion project.
Now, Ragazzi has teamed with Rizzoli again to release a limited-edition book zine, that not only celebrates the launch of the brand’s spring 2021 men’s and women’s collections, but also offers an insightful look into the elevated streetwear label.
“I think this book shows where we are going with the brand,” said Ragazzi, during a Zoom call from his office in the Milan headquarters of NGG, the group controlled by Farfetch, which operates Palm Angels, along with Off-White, Ambush, Alanui, Opening Ceremony, Heron Preston, Marcelo Burlon County of Milan, Kirin Peggy Gou and Ben Taverniti Unravel Project. “We lived the past six months immersed in a digital dimension and I feel that what we are really starting to miss are emotions. I have the feeling that things are just happening and then immediately disappearing. That’s why I wanted to create something tangible, something that you can have in your hands, place on your table and enjoy again and again, every time you want.”
However, while the book, with an introduction by Dazed & Confused founder and editor in chief Isabella Burley, lives in a physical dimension, its layout owes a lot to the digital social media culture, in particular to Instagram.
“It’s a sort of Instagram feed where different things are juxtaposed, the high and the low, the established and the upcoming,” said Ragazzi, referring to the fact that the volume is comprised of a mix of images and graphics by a wide, diverse network of international creatives.
Photographer David Sims and stylist Karl Templer are the high-profile duo behind the impactful fashion pictures depicting Palm Angels’ spring 2021 collection. “They brought us a new vision, a new energy, a new point of view on our collections,” said Ragazzi, adding that those images will also appear on billboards and advertising pages.
Along with Sims’ pictures, the book also collects low-fi shots of the Palm Angels team in Milan taken by London-based photographer Rosie Marks; other fashion pictures by South African artist Lea Colombo; dark room experimentation by 86-year-old Roman photographer Enzo Ragazzini; artworks by abstract painters Friedrich Kunath and Thrush Holmes; as well as archival graphic efforts by Javier Jaén and Javier Calleja.
Ragazzi highlights the creative pastiche he wanted to create with a quote to introduce the first section of the book: “We are not our thoughts, but we can ride with them. Let them grow in your mind, stand out and attract love and energies, floating in the wind. Make them flow, like sparks of creative chaos that defy the status quo,” he wrote.
Organized in three sections, the zine has a similar structure to the Palm Angels spring 2021 collection, which features three different drops. While “Military” hits stores this month, “Fishing Club” will be available for consumers starting from mid March and the third, “Exodus,” will be on sale in May.
This commercial strategy, anchoring the official presentation of the collections to their deliveries to stores, reflects what NGG chief executive officer Andrea Grilli discussed with WWD back in June about the new release of the Off-White lineups. “The goal is to continue to trigger the emotions associated with the presentation of the collections — whatever the format — but also to immediately satisfy the desire to shop with deliveries and drops every month,” Grilli said. “In this fast-paced modern world, the lapse of four to five months between the show and the arrival of merchandise in stores was disconnected from the real needs of the consumer.”
If the license of Virgil Abloh’s Off-White continues to be the crown jewel in the NGG portfolio, Palm Angels is quickly and constantly growing, not only in terms of popularity, but also commercially. “Palm Angels is among the 10 best performing brands on Farfetch,” said Ragazzi, who stressed that importance of the role of the British-Portuguese digital player in the growth of the brand. “Even if we cannot release figures, I can tell you that in 2020 our business grew,” Ragazzi said. “The main reasons are three, I believe: first, Palm Angels collections are highly approachable, we sell products that you feel OK with buying also during a lockdown to wear at home; second, the brand is strong; third, having a digital player like Farfetch as business partner really helped us a lot.”
And Ragazzi thinks that the growth potential is exponential. Indeed, men’s wear currently accounts for the majority of Palm Angels’ sales. “I see great potential in women’s wear, accessories, sneakers,” said Ragazzi, who highlighted that 2021 will be key for the future of the brand. “This year we aim to catapult the brand into a new dimension,” he said, also referring to the retail debut of the brand, which expects to open stores in the U.S. and Europe. “This year we have the opening of at least two boutiques in the pipeline,” he revealed.