Legendary designer Jeff Staple was tapped by Craft Syndicate by Dutch Masters — which celebrates the worlds of fashion, music, film, art and design — to search out, select and mentor an aspiring master in a design incubator. He worked with breakout design talent Alexander-John, known for his work with Jay Z’s Brooklyn Zoo.
Staple is the founder and creative director of Staple Design and Reed Space and serves as CCO of Intertrend & Imprint Lab. Staple has received many accolades including being named to the #Hypebeast100, and #Heineken100, and is a member of the Anthos Capital Group, The AIGA, Soho House, Grind WorkSpace, Agenda Emerge, SneakerCon Legends Series, Rémy Martin Circle of Centaurs, The Parsons 30 Alumni and Google Explorer Team. And, he has lectured and spoken at Apple, Facebook, Bose, Asian American Arts Alliance, Aichi Japan World Expo Conference, The AAIFF, A+E Networks, Columbia Business School, Vivid Sydney, Boston Design Museum, High Museum of Atlanta, Cusp Conference, Fashion Institute of Technology, New York University, Pratt Institute, PSFK Conference, Virginia Commonwealth University and The White House Summit.
With more than 1,000 designers competing for the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to work face-to-face with Staple, Alexander-John was selected by Staple and a panel of judges: musician and entertainer Fonzworth Bentley, LTD Magazine founder “Hawaii” Mike Salman, urban culture expert Sean Malcolm, and stylist and image consultant Jocelynn Jacobs.
Read what Staple has to say about fashion, mentoring and the incubator.
What is the mission of the collaboration with Alexander-John?
We’re doing this collaboration as part of an initiative called Craft Syndicate. And Craft Syndicate is an amazing platform that just allows young creatives and designers who need sort of an extra hand in mentorship, knowledge, experience, to connect them with industry veterans like myself to sort of take them to the next level. So that’s something that I’m really a big proponent of. I’m very much about that. That’s what Craft Syndicate’s about. … So we scoured the country for thousands of different designers to apply for this initiative and Alexander-John was the one star that rose to the top of that pile of incredibly talented designers, so I’m really stoked that he’s able to come and sort of work with me on this in person.
What has the Dutch Masters experience allowed you to do with Alexander-John?
So Dutch Masters actually founded the Craft Syndicate platform. So Dutch Masters created Craft Syndicate, which then allowed me to have the platform to really touch base with all of these creatives and then find Alexander-John. So I give huge props and kudos to Dutch Masters for having the wherewithal to be able to create a program that really gives back to the community and it’s not based on … fake, contrived, inauthentic ways of like, trying to market to people. But this way is so real and so authentic in giving back that it’s such a great program. It’s really rare to see it from a company of their size.
Who inspires you and influences you?
I recently had a really nice conversation with Kanye West and in being a follower of what Kanye’s been doing in the last ten years and sort of getting a media filtered view of what he is and then, sitting across from him for an hour — unfiltered — it was really, really amazing and refreshing to be honest. To be able to meet someone like that and hear it from his mouth and not the mouth of TMZ or US Weekly or something. To hear it straight from him was really impressive and I think, there’s not a lot of people in … not even in hip-hop, there’s not a lot of people on planet earth that have the drive, and the dedication and the borderline insanity that he has for trying to get his art to the world.