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    PNB Nation Part 1

    // Post No Bills \\

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    pnb nation  nyc  post no bills 

    Writer:
    "Hawaii" Mike //
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    WHO WERE THE ORIGINAL FOUNDING MEMBERS, HOW/WHEN DID YOU MEET AND WHY WAS PNB CREATED?
    BLUSTER: PNB Nation was originally conceptualized within a circle of graffiti writers in the lunchroom at the High School of Art & Design. It was created as just a thought, a common "you know what would be dope" situation. It wasn't taken seriously ‘til 86-87 while working as interns at a screen-printing studio and by coaching from Tony Colon, a mentor and spiritual guide who is still active in our lives. At pivotal points in our personal and creative lives BRUE and I figured lets print these tees and see what happens, we weren't thinking about capital gains but more to get the concept of social commentary out to the masses. We were so consumed in the processes of building on an idea and printing, plus school on top of that, that fame and money weren't in the mindscape; it was more like we have to get this shit out. College came around and I bounced to Ohio and BRUE stayed in NY, he continued feeding the PNB fire and started building with ZULU at Cooper Union. At this point BRUE had been interning at WooArt, a film production studio in Manhattan, it was there where he, and Charles Stone III, cunningly influenced the staff of his sense of "urban" aesthetic and in return Woo supplied a work space to set up PNB Nation.

    BRUE: I would add that PNB, and the idea of Post No Bills, started as a reflection of the kids we hung out with. A mix of graffiti artists, skaters and people from around the way, a lot of people from different paths that connected for different but similar reasons. Collectively everyone was very comfortable in their own skin and who they were but was interested in discovering more. Hence the idea of "Post No Bills.” It made for a very creative group of people who wanted to say something.

    Adding on to BLUSTER's note, once we went to college we extended the family and idea of PNB when I met ZULU and shortly after WEST. Like-minded individuals wanting to push forward and further than what we were seeing out there in market and the world. As we printed tees at Cooper Union at night and sold them in the day, we learned that we had something that was connecting and resonating with people. This pushed us to make it an "official" business. One of the critical steps in making any business successful is getting talented people to work with you. That is when we reached out and connected with SUNG, who was already deep into the scene helping Triple 5 Soul run it's business and Shara who was hungry and understood how we needed to reach a broader audience. With these pieces we had the core team that drove our business and opportunities forward.

    WEST: ZULU and I met when we were fourteen and started bombing trains together on Broadway. Years later I came home one weekend from college and ran into ZULU. He was wearing a t-shirt with a blueprint of a subway map and a “SERGE” tag on it. He explained that he and some folks had started a collective called PNB and that they were printing the tees themselves. I wanted to be down. Soon after I met BRUE and then BLUSTER, and it all clicked.

    ZULU: WEST and I were close friends and graff partners from the High School days and had developed a long history of collaborating together on the creative side. While in college I met, and easily connected, with BRUE since we both came from similar backgrounds and experiences. One day BRUE talked to me about the concept of Post No Bills and showed me a logo. I think immediately we started conceptualizing and building, trying to expand on the idea. Through BRUE I met BLUST, his sister Shara, and in turn I introduced them to WEST. Around that time we started hanging out with SUNG and pulled him into the fold.

    SUNG: I first met BRUE and BLUSTER around the Lower East Side just being out to shows and parties and eventually met WEST and ZULU when I was working at Triple 5 Soul at its original location on Ludlow street where I was helping out Carmella to establish her business. When the guys came by the shop with the first run of their t-shirts, I knew right away that PNB would be my path to creative expression and started to help them out in any which way I could, which eventually led to me joining the crew.

    WHAT WAS THE VISION FOR THE BRAND?
    BLUSTER: The vision and intention was to be socially relevant for our people, outside of race. We wanted to provide a platform for like-minded people to say what they want. When you wore a PNB garment you were saying; "This is what I represent, this is who I am."

    BRUE: To be bigger than just fashion and/or clothing. Communicate and celebrate the culture we grew up living and experiencing through as many platforms as possible.

    WEST: We were operating at one of the highest creative moments that youth culture had seen in many years. It was the early 90’s and New York had rediscovered itself. We were an eclectic mix of complex individuals with many interests who wanted to highlight a thinking man’s vision of our culture. We touched on race, politics, food, music, war and peace. Sometimes messages would go over people’s heads, but typically there was a gut response to the graphic language, and people felt special wearing PNB, like they were in on a secret. If you were on the train and you someone wearing PNB you kind of felt like you wanted to give them a pound and say what’s up.

    IN A TIME WHEN THERE WEREN'T A LOT OF BRANDS THAT WERE FOR OUR COMMUNITY WHAT WERE SOME OF THE INSPIRATIONS FOR STARTING?
    BRUE: The biggest influence at the time was NYC and Hip-Hop. 1980's into the 1990's was a Golden Era, seeing how the cultures of Downtown and Uptown, Brooklyn and the BX mixed influences was very impressionable to us. Regarding fashion experience, we had none. We learned through instinct and seeking information from friends of friends. It made for a long learning process but one that you absolutely appreciate.

    ZULU: I think we were inspired by how diverse we were as a collective. We each brought a unique, cultural point of view into the mix. I'm African American and Japanese, BRUE and Shara are Jamaican and Chinese, BLUST is Puerto Rican, SUNG is Korean and WEST is Jewish. We embraced and celebrated our diversity and were energized by the fact that there weren't any brands out there like PNB Nation.

    WHAT WERE THE BIGGEST CHALLENGES?
    BRUE: I think at the core, the biggest challenge was balancing the idea of "Art and Commerce". Learning the balance of what you want to do in order to position your vision of the brand with what you need to do to drive the business of your brand was always an interesting challenge for us. That said, as we were all more creative minded than process and operationally focused, running the operations of an apparel company without support was a big learning experience.

    WHAT WAS THE FIRST STORE TO CARRY PNB?
    ZULU: One of the first stores to carry us was Union, in Soho, which is no longer there. Union carried a very selective assortment and was the destination spot for cool kids and the benchmark for shop retailers. It's owner, James Jebbia, liked what we were doing and literally bought our first batch of tees out of a plastic bag. That batch sold out quickly and really affirmed that we were on to something. I think it was then that we decided to take it more seriously.

    WHO WERE SOME OF THE OTHER YOUNG BRANDS AROUND AT THAT TIME, WAS IT REAL COMPETITIVE OR DID EVERYONE HELP EACH OTHER OUT?
    BRUE: Stüssy, Ecko, Triple 5 Soul, Mecca, 2 Black Guys, FuBu, Walker Wear, ConArt, Third Rail, Enyce, SOHK. It was competitive, respectful, but competitive. I know this may sound arrogant but I honestly think we looked up to ourselves. We respected what others did but we loved what we were doing. Would it have been great to have more commercial success and/or resources? Of course, but we felt we were doing something that no one else was doing. Not even close.

    WHAT ARE SOME OF THE BRANDS AFTER THAT PNB INFLUENCED?
    BLUSTER: They are all out there now, look around.

    BRUE: I agree. Hard to name specific brands because everyone brought and brings something different to the table. But we can see an overall influence across most Streetwear Brands today for sure.

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