Highsnobiety

PLACES+FACES doesn’t do collaborations often. This isn’t because of a lack of opportunities but because it’s selective on who it picks and the storytelling behind the collection: “Whenever we do a collaboration, we always ask: what's the narrative?” Ciesay, co-founder of the multi-faceted project, tells Highsnobiety.

He and fellow co-founder Soulz are preparing to launch one of those rare co-branded collections, together with the French rolling paper company Rizla and modeled by a bumper selection of musical talent.

Leicester-born rapper Ys Sainte, acclaimed Swedish DJ Denaas, Rinse FM radio host and DJ Kim Turnbull, and trailblazing rapper Kasien make up the cast. It's an impressive curation of pioneering, underground musicians that PLACES+FACES consider friends of the brand.

The collection is styled with other pieces of PLACES+FACES merch and PUMA’s Speedcat sneakers, a personal favorite of Ciesay’s, who says: “People want shoes that are comfortable and stylish enough to wear to a party without feeling they have to switch their shoes. That’s what the PUMA Speedcat executes well.”

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From humble beginnings as a photography project, PLACES+FACES has grown exponentially (over the years, it's done everything from releasing an EP and hosting parties worldwide to founding a film club), and linking up with an institution like Rizla is yet another feather in its cap.

PLACES+FACES doesn't do many collaborations, how did this one come about?

Ciesay: We used to make our own bootleg Rizla merch for PLACES+FACES back in the day because their logo is also the plus sign. We would flip the plus sign for our own stuff. So when they reached out to us, that's what the narrative was: look at this brand where we used to flip its logo and now we’re actually collaborating with it. 

Also, it's a heritage brand, it's been around since the 1500s, so working with a brand that is a mainstay in the UK and around the world, and has been present in different cultural moments [was a big draw]. We're able to add something to their legacy, as much as they're adding to ours.

Soulz: With Rizla, because we grew up in London and always go to the off-license, you see that Rizla logo everywhere. 

What’s your earliest memory of seeing Rizla?

Ciesay: It was in Trainspotting (1996) and Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels (1998). I remember in Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels, the scene with the card game, seeing the Rizla packet on the table and being like: Damn, that logo is shining. I like branding, I like logos, and it’s a logo I always saw. 

PLACES+FACES is a lifestyle brand and the campaign for this collaboration brings together different creative vices that it explores (music, fashion, and photography). Is it important to you that PLACES+FACES is a multi-faceted entity?

Ciesay: It's very important because it's an expression of who Soulz and I are, everything we do in regards to PLACES+FACES is what piques our interest. We both started by taking photos and sneaking into shows and we thought it could be our side thing while we work a nine-to-five, or in other industries. When we started making clothes, it was more for promotion, so people see the logo and then go on the website and see the pictures. Then that became its own thing. 

Every year, we see how we can grow ourselves as creatives, photographers, directors, and people, but also grow our community.

Soulz: The brand is a reflection of our personalities. We've been doing the brand for over a decade so our creative child is becoming a 10-year-old and doing other stuff. It’s really important for the brand to keep trying to develop new vices while we still master the ones we continue to do like photography, music, events, and fashion.

Basically, we like to put all of our interests into the brand and see what comes out of it. 

PLACES+FACES recently celebrated its tenth anniversary. How do you reflect on the last 10 years? 

Ciesay: In 2013, when we started this, I was in a kitchen in New York and Soulz was in his bedroom in London. If you told us we’re gonna travel the world and throw parties…

Soulz: I wouldn’t have believed it!

Ciesay: I’d have been like: yeah okay, liar.

PLACES+FACES is the journey of Soulz and Ciesay’s adventures. We could have easily been a platform where we hire photographers in different countries, and let them take pictures of shows, events, and artists, but then it loses that personality. It was a decision we made early on, that we want this to be about our journey and people growing with us, watching our photography get better, and seeing us exploring new ideas and tapping into new worlds. 

Honestly, it's just 10 years of us figuring shit out. We don't know what the future holds but as long as we're having fun, I think that's really and truly what this business is [all about]. 

When you started, you quickly established yourself in the London fashion and streetwear scene. How has it changed since you started?

Ciesay: When we started, there weren’t many brands on the come up. The only one I can think of is A-COLD-WALL*, we started around the same. But now, there are so many brands like Corteiz and Clints. These guys have built brands that have a narrative and a purpose.

Far more brands are experimenting with new ideas than a decade ago, I feel like the UK fashion scene has grown exponentially from when we started. 

What’s next for PLACES+FACES?

Soulz: Building on experiences and experimenting. We had a magazine in the past which we might bring back and there are still a lot of countries we haven't touched. 

Ciesay: Honestly, more of everything.  

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