interview

Meet the Creative Duo Behind Pawa Speed Sports℗

New to Garbstore, Pawa Speed Sports℗ is carving its own lane within the streetwear landscape. As the label's exclusive stockist, we thought it only right to sit down with founders Luc Szivo and George Pitassi to discuss their inspirations and what they have in store for us.

Born through a mutual appreciation for Japanese and British streetwear of the early 2000s, Pawa℗, like most things, began as an idea shared between friends. But as lockdowns struck and we all started revaluating what really mattered, the designer duo decided to follow what was once their wildest dream and turn it into a reality. Two years passed, and following meticulous work building the label from the ground up, Pawa℗ was released into the world.

Hey guys! Thanks for sitting down with us. To start off, can you tell us who you are and what you do?

Hello! We are Luc & George, the creators of Pawa Speed Sports℗. We are both designers/illustrators living and working in East London, juggling full-time work, and putting all of our free time into building the Pawa℗ universe. 

And what does a typical day in the life of the Pawa Speed Sports team look like?

No day is the same working on Pawa℗. Our process is a non-stop back and forth of new ideas, sending each other graphics and always looking to push the creative as far as we can. We both have a clear vision of what Pawa℗ should be and really critique and finesse every detail, making sure we work hard to create authentic ideas and most of all have fun with it. At the end of the day, it’s two of us trying to live the dream and tell the Pawa℗ story so we like to keep things fresh and exciting. 

Could you tell us a bit about your backgrounds, how you met, and how the label came to be?

So, Luc grew up in Asia and moved to the UK to study at art school, which is where we both met. We both used to skate at this little spot in Elephant and Castle and soon discovered we had crazy similar interests in graphics, movies, manga, and animation. After graduating we’d still link up every weekend and be producing our own graphics/ideas for various projects but never together, we’d always reach that point where we’d be talking about the ‘what if’ of starting a label which went on for years. Finally, in 2020 we met at a BBQ spot in Holborn and decided this was the time and we were gonna commit to making it happen. Then the world went on pause due to covid and we went into hibernation and spent two years building Pawa℗ from the ground up. 

The most important thing for Pawa℗ was that everything was authentic and original. Building hundreds of versions of every design and going through countless samples and custom shapes for our garments before being satisfied with the quality we expected. If it wasn’t done right, then it wasn’t happening, which is why we even spent the full 2 years before signing off our final T-shirt shapes and printing techniques (which we are still pushing further today).

Alongside the graphics and quality of garments, we wanted every single part of the brand to be original, from all audio used in our animations to building a 3D virtual world and website experience. This gave us a huge range of exploration for Pawa℗ and loads of opportunities to build and refine our aesthetic. We really want people to view the brand and feel like ‘there’s a brand that’s doing something different, something interesting. 

We definitely came up the hard way and had a lot of insane samples come back to us, including the plush toy from hell – complete with live cockroachs. But it made it all that more satisfying when we’d get something right and hit the high standards we set ourselves. 

What is it about early 2000s streetwear that fascinates you?

The early 00’s felt like anything was possible. Nigo really paved the way in the '90s with what was possible with a streetwear label and how far you could push that experience, we both grew up obsessed with the graphics and unexpected items/collaborations from Bape at that time. Meanwhile, you had guys like Jeremy Klein blending the anime and skateboarding worlds with Hook Ups (with some of the best ads ever shot), Erik Brunetti, Jun Takahashi, and Kaws, all these guys were killing it. By the time the ’00s rolled around, it felt like anything was possible, there was also an intrinsic sense of playfulness and humour in a lot of work at the time like the Ari Menthol 10s dunk parody and the Consolidated Drunk BSs gave us the feeling that independent guys could produce these amazing projects and do shit differently against the mainstream industry. The major spark for us was when Pharrell linked with Nigo to create BBC Ice Cream, that was worlds colliding, skateboarding, music and streetwear with the hardest soundtracks and visuals. I think the Ice Cream skate team Vol 1. vid was a real game changer for both of us at the time and influenced us heavily.

Where do you source your inspiration and references?

That’s a big question. Inspiration for us comes from so many places. We’ve both travelled and experienced a lot of different things and continue to do so living in London, which is such a constant source of stimulation. We’ve become really tuned in to finding things that ‘feel Pawa℗’. That can be seeing a sick car drive past us in the street or looking at photos we’ve taken in Japan where we notice a lovely bit of type or colour on a street sign. Scenes from movies like Blade Runner or Ghost in the Shell or a piece of audio, like a certain sample we’ve heard in a track that week. We’re also really lucky to have a friend group with so many different nationalities, cultures and homies doing their own amazing creative work. We get real inspiration from anyone who’s active and making their own things happen. It gives us the inspiration to keep pushing Pawa℗ to the limit. The ’Pawa Speed Sports℗’ culture is all about bringing energy and going fast!!!

Although intrinsically linked, Japanese and British streetwear style cultures have their own unique edge. What do you think the main similarities and differences are?

The first things that come to mind when thinking of both British and Japanese streetwear are quality, attention to detail, and a sense of irreverent humour. Both markets are known for their ability to scrutinise and perfect every small detail to ensure what they deliver is the best it can be, from fine stitching details to finding the perfect silhouettes, this is an ethos that is embedded in everything we produce and a benchmark we are always comparing Pawa℗ against (and a large reason why it took us 2 years to finalise our garments’ shapes).

It’s that blending of detail and mastering of your craft with the ability to be playful with design, and knowing which areas to take serious and where to have fun. That commitment to carving your own lane and creating what you want with your own sense of identity. Also, the inclusion of using local makers and heritage brands to collaborate, that would be a dream goal for us, to work with and create something with a staple of either culture to really feel validated in our vision for Pawa℗.

One of the main influences and key differences between cultures for us is the Japanese mastery of concept and willingness to push outside the box. Nowadays, seeing a streetwear label make an action figure or a toothpaste doesn’t feel new, but designers like Nigo have been doing this since the mid-’90s. Pushing the boundaries of what a label can be and exploring the unexplored whilst maintaining a high level of brand identity and quality. There will forever be a fascination and appreciation for Japanese culture for us because we’ve grown up consuming it and always want to make sure we reference it in the right way and with reason. 

Things like the boy racer scene of the early 00s in the UK were the direct result of the tuner scene in Japan, animation, manga, movies, all of these things have fed into our subconscious and really influenced the way we design. Whilst on the other side Pawa℗ is heavily influenced in its audio by UK tech and jungle. There is no denying that London is musically one of the best places to live in the world and that culture goes hand in hand with labels and identity here, which inspired Pawa℗ massively. 

We could talk for ages on this but were trying to keep it brief!

And what are your favourite parts of each?

In short, the combination of keeping it real and being a master of your craft. Pushing the boundaries and creating the wildest branding experience, getting weird with it and always challenging yourself to evolve and create something new. 

Your website provides a playful-yet-innovative way to interact with the brand. How do you think advancements in technology have impacted independent labels, and do you plan to champion them going forward?

We feel like anything is possible online, mainly because it is. For a small brand like us, we knew we’d be years away from having a physical store and wanted to produce a concept where our community could experience and interact with Pawa℗ in an interesting and immersive way. We can’t have a physical store in London yet, so let’s build one online! The best thing about it is there really are no limits, everything within our 3D store is curated to be a reflection of Pawa℗. We were lucky enough that our homie Antoine is basically Neo from the Matrix and was able to bring all of our crazy ideas to life in an amazing way. 

Going forward, we have so many plans for our 3D world, it’s really going to get wild, as our brand grows so will the Pawa℗ universe and experience. We can’t give too much away but watch this space, we have some really crazy bits in the pipeline. To us, Pawa℗ is a concept label from the future and we’ll keep on pushing the boundaries of what is possible. 

Finally, what do you have in the pipeline for us to look forward to?

In short, a lot! We are only at the beginning of the Pawa℗ journey. It’s a constantly evolving project with endless possibilities. As we grow as a brand, so does our ability to push the experience even further. We’re constantly developing and improving our garments, exploring print techniques, and looking to push our graphics further. 

You can definitely look to see us explore the ’Speed Sports’ side of the label further, understanding what it means to go fast and how we can bring more energy to Pawa℗ through physical and digital experiences. Another big one for us is pushing into the collaborative space, we have some really game-changing projects on the horizon with some crazy talented artists/designers. 

Finally, for us, we want to engage our community as much as possible, be it online or offline, you’ll definitely be seeing a lot more of us soon so keep your eyes peeled!

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