Jeff Staple has tackled many challenges over the course of his 25-year career in graphic design, fashion and footwear and brand marketing. His next objective: conquering the metaverse.
The creative founded his NewYork-based streetwear brand STAPLE in 1997, utilizing a now-iconic pigeon graphic. In the years since, he has founded visual communications agency Staple Design and the Reed Space boutique and has collaborated with established brands like Nike, Timberland, and Clarks. More recently, the designer has dabbled in the NFT and crypto spaces, partnering with RTFKT Studios on his “METAPIGEON” sneaker NFTs and teaming up with entrepreneur Gary Vaynerchuck for the “Perspective Pigeon” NFT collaboration.
Today, Staple is fully embracing web3, this time through the creation of a digital world called STAPLEVERSE that is filled with colorful characters, rare collectibles and evolving storylines based on his NYC roots.
“The stars kind of aligned because this is actually the 25th anniversary of STAPLE as a brand,” he tells HYPEBEAST. “We’ve been grinding at it for a quarter-century now. And it does make a lot of sense that this is the year that we enter an entirely new universe.”
Wednesday marks Chapter 1 of what Staple calls a “social experience of collaborative storytelling narrated by Pigeonz from around the world.” The storyline begins in New York City, home to the EMPIRE STAPLE PIGEONZ, and revolves around Staple’s emblematic pigeon and its existence in New York — from what it eats to where it poops.
The FEED NFT drop includes 20 different types of “feed” that a New York City pigeon would eat — from pizza and bagels to subway tokens and cigarette butts — with a max supply of 10,000 at 0.1 ETH per NFT. As the STAPLEVERSE continues to build out, collectors will have the choice of whether to keep their FEED or toss their FEED and become a part of the HOOD PIGEON SQUAD or the POOP GANG, writing the narrative of the STAPLEVERSE in real-time.
“I’ve always had New York in my DNA,” he says of the inspiration for his project, which tapped artist B. Thom Stevenson to pay homage to New York’s “silkscreen, stencil-culture era.”
Staple says that each of the NFT releases will be “equally dope,” though he hints that the POOP GANG will have “so much utility” down the line, while the HOOD PIGEONS will be able to gain royalties for their NYC borough through secondary market transactions. He adds that the vision for STAPLEVERSE extends beyond the Empire State.
“We could keep going into different cities and universes, and then what happens when the Osaka pigeon meets the Bronx pigeon?” he says. “It’s almost like the Marvel Cinematic Universe.”
“This is all s— that like I could not have executed in the physical world,” he continues. “Even if I did this with retail stores and with designers, this would have been a monumental five-year project involving logistics and supply chains and all that stuff.”
While crypto spaces continue to evolve at a rapid-fire pace, Staple is confident in the new opportunities creatives have to connect with an audience and build out their brand.
“Traditionally, creatives have always been like, playing Whac-A-Mole, trying to solve a problem, make money and then go to the next thing,” he explains. “One of the things that I always try to tell creatives [about blockchain and NFTs] is that now you have the ability to own your intellectual property and really claim it and make it sustainable long-term.”
Addressing fellow OG streetwear designers and legacy brands, Staple encourages them to get involved in the crypto space and really “become the customer” in order to succeed.
“The reason why you probably are a creator or have a brand is that you are a customer and a fan first,” he says. “Look at OpenSea. Start with ‘What do I like?’ Forget about prices. Forget about investment. Forget about flipping and just buy something. And even if it tanks, it doesn’t matter because you like the artwork.”
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