North West just revived Kanye’s mystery fashion brand from the 00s
The 9-year-old was papped in Paris wearing a jacket from Pastelle, which burned briefly and brightly before it was relegated to fashion folklore forever
A singer-songwriter with an absolute air of repugnance, je suis North West. Born onto the front row, Nori’s debut into fashion was as a toddler, sat beside Anna Wintour and Beyoncé at Yeezy’s AW15 show, writhing and screaming with the force of Beelzebub raging inside of her. Nearly a decade later, though, she no longer wants to expel herself into another dimension at the sight of beige bodystockings, managing to channel those primal screams into stirring spoken word performances, her style compass fixed increasingly towards the north.
Just yesterday the 9-year-old was papped alongside Kim Kardashian, shuffling through Avenue Montaigne in Balenciaga’s steel-capped HardCrocs. But it wasn’t those clodhoppers that inspired the internet to question “what are those?”, but the cobalt varsity jacket that swallowed her frame. Pilfered, presumably, from one of Kanye’s storage units, the look was a vestige of the musician’s now-defunct clothing line, Pastelle, which ran from 2006 to 2009. Ye-heads are even suggesting that it was probably the exact same jacket that Kanye wore to the American Music Awards nearly 15 years ago.
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Pastelle wasn’t Kanye’s first entrance into fashion – there was the short-lived Mascotte by K West which was scrapped in 2004 – but it did bring together the kind of streetwear enthusiasts that became his longtime collaborators, including Virgil Abloh, Ben Baller, KAWS, and Kim Jones. With samples taken from LA’s Rose Bowl Flea Market, the label was due to make its big debut in 2009 at New York Fashion Week, until Kanye West lost his rag at Taylor Swift during the VMAs, and subsequently retreated from the spotlight. Embroiled in controversy, collaborators were reportedly left unpaid, with many saying they didn’t even know that the brand was deteriorating until the news emerged online.
You could read the runes of late 00s style on Pastelle’s trademark varsity jackets, their brash colour blocks, patch lettering, and animal insignia chiming with the work of Supreme, BAPE, and Nike SB. Some of those featured in editorials – Kim Jones showcased unseen items in a VMAN shoot in 2008 – and others have been worn on the backs of B.o.B and Lupe Fiasco, but, after three years of work, with established studios in New York, Paris, and LA producing pink neoprene jackets, hoodies with cutaway waistbands, fully beaded jackets, and dresses made out of zipper, the brand never actually made it to market.
Somewhere, copious samples still exist, and one medium-sized jacket sold for $10,000 on Justin Reed’s consignment store earlier this year. And though the whole enterprise ultimately gave way to Yeezy’s pebble-hued empire, Pastelle has been relegated to streetwear folklore. “I’m not saying that I think I’m the best designer in the world,” Kanye told Complex in 2009, “but what I’m saying is that I think I can become that.” Perhaps it now falls – quite literally – on North’s shoulders to convince the rest of the world of the fact.