Parish Nation

  In a market inundated with urban fashion, Parish Nation’s retro appeal is breathing some fresh life to street swagger across the country. While looking through their collection, the beat to Nas’ “Hip Hop Is Dead” runs through your mind. Vintage artistry mixed with modern fit, Parish brings the best of the old and new […]


In a market inundated with urban fashion, Parish Nation’s retro appeal is breathing some fresh life to street swagger across the country. While looking through their collection, the beat to Nas’ “Hip Hop Is Dead” runs through your mind. Vintage artistry mixed with modern fit, Parish brings the best of the old and new together for their 2007 lines. We sat down with Tony Shellman, Pericles Papayannis (both former minds behind the Enyce brand) and José Mertz to discuss the vision behind Parish, what’s next for the team, and exactly why consumers need not look at the clothing line as a “throwback” brand. When was Parish started and what was the inspiration behind starting the line? Tony Shellman: The idea came from [us] wanting to get together and create a brand. We decided to do that with the best people in the world that we think are the best at what they do. We hadn’t even come up with a name before we got the brand together – the idea behind this company was to get all-star players together so we could create this great brand and a force to be reckoned with. Pericles Papayannis: Bottom line with Parish it’s like a community. Like Tony said we’ve brought together a lot of people [now that] we’ve brought together in the past doing a lot of stuff. We wanted to build a line that represented a changing force in the industry. We’ve been doing the same things for 10 years, and now witnessing a new trends and currents coming up and we thought that it was right to do our version of what we thought was taking place. Parish represents art, music, the history of Hip-Hop. It revolves around the culture of Hip-Hop. It’s not only about rap or music per se, but the whole lifestyle which includes the clothes that you wear, how you dress and style yourself. It’s a different approach from the brand name matching the top to your bottom; it’s more of an old school approach. The guy really dresses himself and cares about the details and the look and all of the accessories that you put on. You guys come from different backgrounds. What companies have you worked for? Pericles: My last job was with Enyce, I was the VP of Design there, Tony was there as well. Tony: What happened was myself, Evan and one of our partners created Enyce. Before that we got together with a company in Seattle and that’s how we came up with Mecca too. The thing about that for us is, Enyce is not even relevant to what we’re doing right now. It has absolutely nothing to do with what we’re doing at Parish. As far as the concept of what we’re doing, as far as I’m concerned, I’ve come from nowhere to do this clothing thing called Parish and bring my expertise to the table. Same goes for [the whole Parish team] – Pericles, José, Courtney, Spencer, Shaka Jackie, Evan. The list goes on. José Mertz: All the guys here have pretty much had extensive experience in the fashion world, I’m coming from the fine art realm, and I got hooked up because I went to art school with my boy Courtney. I’ve been doing design for a while – I have a degree in painting and color theory. I had no preconceived notion on how to make anything clothes related, I came in as a freelancer and that was cool, because I could listen to the radio while I worked and just jam out. Pericles: I liked what he was doing so I added him to the roster. José: Yeah it was just a beautiful mix. We come in the office, crack jokes, play some of the newest jams on the MP3 player and then just come up with fresh ideas. Honestly the stuff we’re doing with Parish celebrating the Hip-Hop culture, B-boy dancers, even seersucker stuff and pieces that have no graphics for those heads on the street that just wanna look fresh from head to toe. There you go, you got the gold trimming on there. It’s almost kind of ironic that to get fresh you kind of went retro – it works though. Pericles: The concept of the retro [look] and old school Hip-Hop and pop culture, it’s almost like you’re in a class and someone says, “Today we’re gonna talk about Hip-Hop and the old school”, then everyone gets to add their piece and brainstorm with it. That’s why we call it a community, that’s how we got going. You start doing research and see the design is done by [a whole team]. The company itself is inspired by the environment in how we do it, so at any given day I’ll be like, “Yo, check this book out. What do you think about that?” and they’ll run and do what they do and brainstorm. José: Right now in the public we have the identity of doing ‘80s type of clothing, but that’s only one bullet in the revolver. Right now that’s just what’s being presented, and we have a lot more bangers that are gonna be coming with different themes, different styles all under the umbrella of Hip-Hop but just reinvented. I think it’s cool that we came out celebrating Hip-Hop in a nostalgic way, we have breakers and dudes with Cazals on, but there’s gonna be a major change when new seasons start coming down the line. Pericles: Within the whole genre of Hip-Hop, it’s a very large genre which includes a lot of time periods and different aspects. We started out with the old school early ‘80s Hip-Hop as a starting point, and we’re gonna allow that to see where it leads us. I don’t wanna say that we’re gonna be the old school brand forever because that would be wack. Do you guys look at the trends of where things are going down the road when you’re designing? How do you look ahead and say, “Okay we really need to get out of the 4X shirts and do medium?” Pericles: We’re all producers and consumers of this kinda stuff, and we’re also in the industry. Certain trends you see coming, people wearing slimmer jeans, I think a lot of people who know what they’re doing are doing that now. So it makes sense, we look for trends and we also try and start our own trends. That’s the beauty of our crew, we have artists and designers and people who just go out and do stuff. We’ll take an idea that we think is cool and develop it and just put it out there to the world – you can see more on the site at So far we’ve been lucky with the responses to what we do, to be in a position where you can almost start your own trends is a blessed position to be in. José: To be able to have the platform to experiment too, I was one of those baggy jeans dudes and I would never wear tight jeans. That wasn’t me at all, but I came in here with my baggy jeans the first day working and Pericles was like, “What the hell are you doing with those jeans? You gotta step your game up.” I started getting educated to what dudes are wearing, from there you see what’s going on now and you can kind of push and pull and experiment for what’s to come. Visualize and just throw it out there, some people will take it and some people might not understand it yet. It’s all good. Tony: Our biggest competition in the marketplace is ourselves. We’re more interested in what’s going on with us. We’re constantly bringing stuff from the outside, it’s almost like show and tell sometimes. What can people expect from the Summer collection that’s coming out? Tony: I think from the Summer you can expect an extension of Spring, which is you got some eclectic type pieces – and at the same time it’s still pushing the envelope on the trends. The hooded vest, things like the nylon jackets, we continue to take the premium approach on the denim. José: A lot of stuff with this line is more pattern-oriented, we got a couple of pieces that’s more in tune with the imagery and celebrating stuff. In Miami they have an event called Goombay, I’m from Miami and Courtney is too, we were talking about certain street parties they have. [We have] another [design] with high-top fades and Native Tongues, that whole era. That’s like the two major image bases we have, products based around those two themes. The rest is just straight-up patterns. Tony: Our t-shirts have themes, like screw nut and bolt. Little clever things like there’s a t-shirt with a cop – “Woop woop! That’s the sound of the police” – little things that if you know, you know. It’s not that we’re too cool for school, it’s just that we all know because at the end of the day we’re all a part of Hip-Hop. From those types of tees, to great graphics it’s more or less about a collection of, “What would you wear?”