V + paa | Varyer

We took it one thing at a time

paa sounds the call for authenticity

Paa is an exercise in process that developed organically between Al Verik and Peter Jurado. The garments they create are an elevation of standards. They’re not reinventing the wheel, they’re making it out of far better materials. Each piece plays with shape and invokes an inherent curiosity in its form and construction. They invite you in for a second look, with new details constantly coming to light. Simplicity is harder to achieve than one might think. There’s a tendency to add more, to do one more tweak, to overwork things. Paa is able to achieve an effortless look with their line through, ironically, quite a bit of effort.

The two met through a universal—the ever-pervasive invitation to see a friend dj. That house party happened to be at Peter’s home in Brooklyn, New York in 2009. Al and his girlfriend (now wife) arrived at the party before a single other guest. From then on, the two formed an instant connection that stemmed from a shared love of music. Over the course of time, natural evolution (read: a lot of hanging out) led them to another joint affinity, clothing. But even more specifically, a magnetism towards making things. Peter was working in the fashion industry at the time. When coupled with Al’s passionate tendency to deep dive into new things, it meant a quick and fortuitous transfer of knowledge from one to the other. In early 2013, they launched paa [Peter and Al] with three wool caps in three colors. A brand was born, and they entered the retail world by way of the popular Manhattan shop C’H’C’M. The two have nothing but nice things to say about shop owner Sweetu Patel and lauded his willingness to take chances on up and coming lines. This opportunity springboarded paa into the public realm, creating the awareness that gained them an audience that has followed them ever since.

Swift expansion came as a surprise to paa. The past few years have seen the two transition from day jobs and lines of caps to full time designers with head-to-toe collections. As their understanding of the manufacturing process grew, their ability to imbue garments with thoughtfulness extended to ever earlier parts of their designs. Their ability to envision all steps to production starts at the drawing board. Their process has been driven by careful choice of fabrics since the very beginning. For paa, access to resources often dictates an entire collection, as the unique fabrics that Peter and Al discover often require high purchasing minimums. The two are able to translate what could be seen as limitation to their advantage, often weaving one fabric throughout an entire collection as a keystone, like this iridescent. Balancing laundry lists of aspirations with ever-present constraints leads paa to creative successes, defining their unique view in fashion.

Peter Jurado (top) & Al Verik (bottom)

Snapshots from the studio: unique iridescent fabric, wool caps, and mint ripstop

Identity was never directly discussed between Peter and Al. It’s clear the two are low-key and humble. They started paa in that spirit; they wanted to create a brand of things they liked, without being too attached to anything specific. They emphasized quality and fit, designing pieces made to last. Above all else, they wanted to just be themselves. A simple reprise from our youth, singing true. If there’s anything to strive to be in this world, just be yourself. In accepting this mantra, paa is able to blend influences from all parts of their lives. They keep a close eye on what is happening in the fashion world in relation to trends; they don’t shy away from them, opting instead to be acutely aware of the zones they’re treading. They just do it their way. For inspiration, both are notably galvanized by people watching and human interactions. Peter declares “Creating a collection, it is a hodgepodge of different inspirations. A lot of times, we don't even know what a collection's going to look like until we put all the samples together”. This head-down approach can be likened to other deeply process-oriented endeavours: sampled music, applique quilts, writing short stories. The pieces come together to form a whole before your eyes.

This first documented use of the term pipe dream was in The Chicago Tribune in 1890. It directly refers to an opium-induced thought.

Working during the COVID-19 pandemic has posed new challenges for paa. With Al in California and Peter in New York, all collaboration this year was done through a digital screen. For 2020, they’ve turned to trading archival imagery and scouring Pantone color swatch books for inspiration over the human element they’re used to studying. This lack of interaction hasn’t distracted them from the pipe dream of opening a storefront. While there are no specific plans at the moment, the two default to their resourcefulness and say they’ll jump on an opportunity where they can marry the best deal on rent with the best space for their line to be housed. Their pieces call for a physical space, since nuance is hard to translate online.

Photo by Lyndon French

We’ve been fans of paa since day one, we see ourselves as kindred spirits in almost every way. It was a no-brainer that we asked them to collaborate and help us create the perfect, easy snapback cap to sell in our new webshop. Simplicity built with quality materials, unconstructed five panels produced in mint waxed ripstop nylon. We believe this cap to be an instant classic that will last as long as you keep having a head to put it on.

Photo by Lyndon French