UnderStated__EP001 ___Shirley 

Interview and Creative Direction by Cyril Edet
Photography by Christine Dang

Focusing on feeling as well as function, Shirley exists at the intersection of playfulness and comfort. Following their mid 2022 debut, co-founders Jack Peros and Nick Collini have built a brand centered around nostalgia and communal experiences. Two collections in (with a third on the way), we caught up with them following their most recent pop up at Capsul Studio to discuss their journey so far .

(From Left to Right , Jack Peros & Nick Collini, Shirley Company)

Shirley Company

Cyril: Why the name Shirley?

We wanted to have an older feeling name. Out of the short list of names I had, Shirley just felt fun and youthful while still feeling nostalgic.

Cyril: It was your choice?

Nick: Yeah.
Jack : I was not part of it at first.
Nick:  I had the concept for Shirley maybe like, six months before.

Cyril: What was the original idea behind starting Shirley?

Nick: I had a clothing brand for five years in high school that I was running and it grew a lot with me from when I started it. But with what I wanted to do with clothing, I wasn't able to rebrand enough to get there with what I had before. So I decided to start from scratch. And working with Jack on it, we were living together already at the time and I knew that I didn't want to start a new brand on my own and do everything myself. 

Cyril: Jack, you're a DP and a director and Nick you're an art director and a graphic designer. How does that factor into your roles at Shirley? Do you have to take on new roles?

Jack:  We're both learning stuff as we go because neither of us have a background in clothing. We're both self-taught. So it's very give and go, we're very flexible with who's doing what. And it's very even how we contribute just because our previous experiences in terms of my background in film and background in design, they help as a starting point, but they don't necessarily dictate what we're going to do forever. So I think we build off that. I'll start an idea of something like a design, and it's not strong enough to put out, but then Nick can punch it through for me, or he'll come up with a concept for the video. He can lean on my experience the same way I can lean on his.

Cyril: The music choice in your campaigns is really interesting. What goes into that decision, and who chooses the songs?

Nick: We usually shoot first and then have a track after almost always, but it's usually something we've been listening to or a song that we just have listened to that we feel fits. It's not really like too much thought goes into it, but it definitely has to fit. 

Jack: We may pivot it shortly, but I think everything sonically has that same feeling as the name Shirley. It's very old timey and classic, and that's kind of intentional with bringing the newer imagery in with that older sound. That's so much of what you're feeling when you're watching our campaigns, we hope, is that the visuals are cool, but then the sound between the sound design and the actual music choice, it should tie in that feeling.

Cyril: What's your favorite thing about Shirley?

Jack:  I think because we both have our own full time careers in another discipline, just having the creative outlet. I talk to Michelle about that all the time. It's so important because in film it's very expensive to work on passion projects, at least if you want them to be to a certain level of quality. But in clothing, you kind of get to start from scratch, which you don't get to do a lot in film. And I think for Nick in design, we're constantly both swamped in our day to day work. So this is like a little vacation almost when it's like we can create with no limits, and also no restrictions, no client telling us what to do. It's all fun and we'll work in little sessions and just kind of feel free for that time because no one can tell us what to do.

Nick: Jack and I have so many different interests, like, clothes, but also homewares, but also drinks, like food and beverage and stuff. So it's cool to have one outlet that we can make anything we want for ourselves. And it's also contributing to an actual business that we're making. So like we want a sweater vest. It's like, cool, let's make a sweater vest. Even more than that, it's like, oh, I needed more art for my room. Okay bet, I'll just make some Shirley art or even hopefully, in the future we want a...

Jack: Couch. 

Nick: Couch. Or like, even in a more subtle way. We're both really into wine right now. We're working on, hopefully making like our own bottle of wine soon and stuff like that. So it's cool to have one central thing that we can justify making.

Jack: Like a function with purpose behind each passion kind of thing. 

Nick: The biggest inspiration or one of the biggest inspirations for me with the brand is early Bape, when Nigo was just like, there's some interview where he's talking about yeah, like "I needed a hair salon. So I put a hair salon in the store", like, "I needed a café. So we built a café" and like that actually didn't end up working out because I think they went bankrupt after that. But like yeah, that kind of spirit. 

Cyril: What's your favorite item you've released so far?

"Face" Zip-Up Sweater & "Pinstripe Patch" Button Up from Shirley’s Wherever You Go - FW22 Campagin 

Nick: I like the button up ("Pinstripe Patch" Button Up)  that I'm wearing. It wasn't my favorite when we designed it. It was kind of more so just like, oh, we want to have something a little bit more subdued, in our product line. But like, once we got it in after  feeling the cut of it that we picked, it's probably my most worn thing, like I don't have any other button ups that fit this way, which is kind of cool.

Jack: I think the zip up for me I'm wearing the most because I don't really like sweaters. I get so bored of sweaters. So it's really nice having something we created that I get to wear all the time and I often get complimented on too, which is really sweet.  But I think also the silk scarf we did because I love how it's almost a great challenge, how limiting clothing design can be because you're restricted in the processes of what you can make. It's very two dimensional. It's like, okay, you can screenprint or you can embroider. So finding ways to incorporate art and stuff we like into something functional, like a silk scarf is so much fun to me and I think I'm probably proudest of that because we worked with an artist, Joshua, that we really like and both respect. So it's like getting to take a piece of art and then work it into clothing that's not just the art in a square on a t shirt, you know. So that was really cool to me. And it's gotten great reception, I think.

Cyril : That's nice. It's like taking something and making something new.

Jack: Totally, and also the item does different stuff for different people like Michelle wears it as a top, or like I wear it as like an ascot or like a babushka type thing or Nick ties it around his waist as an accessory. 

Nick:  It's super subversive, for sure.

Cyril: Describe Shirley in one word.

Jack: Fun.
Nick: Damn, one word? Like, nuanced, maybe? Yeah. 

Cyril:  What's in store for Shirley in 2023? 

Nick: We have spring/summer we're working on right now.

Jack:  I think live experiences probably are more of a priority than any sort of retail event because it's just so much more fun when we get to connect with our community. Yeah. And the people that support us.

Nick: In a way that hasn't been done before. 

Jack: Tying back into all of our passions like food and beverage. We're not huge on partying, either of us. People only really like to leave the house to party sometimes. So challenging people to try a new way of hanging out and different times of the day. We're not just trying to do nightlife, we're trying to kind of create experiences. Like we did a movie night, which is super fun, especially because we want it to be true to us, and I think if we just did club nights, like every month or every two months, we wouldn't really enjoy it. So trying to tie in stuff we love in our day to day life into the experiences. 

Too listen to the music that inspires Shirley as a brand, listen to their second mix: HERE

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