Tuesday, January 25, 2022

PSG collaborate with graffiti art icon Crash in Champs Elysees relaunch

Paris Saint-Germain opened their new and relocated Champs-Elysees club shop on Monday after moving from No. 27 on the French capital’s most famous avenue to No. 92 and an expansive 3,983 square foot commercial space over two floors — an upgrade reflecting the Ligue 1 giants’ growing global appeal.

“This opening on the most beautiful avenue in the world is an important marker of the club’s international appeal,” said the club’s brand director Fabien Allegre in an official press release. “This is an historic day for PSG, and a clear sign that the work put in over the last 10 years is paying off.”

Part of the grand opening is a collaboration with graffiti artist Crash, otherwise known as John Matos, and Tango Hotel who specialize in bringing wearable art to a wider audience with the American creator already well known in France after decades of work.

“My first PSG collaboration was accidental,” Crash told CBS Sports exclusively. “I happened to be in Paris and a friend of mine from Miami, Abstract, also happened to be there. He was doing something at the stadium and called to ask if I wanted to combine.

“At first, I said no, but I ended up giving him a hand. We were painting at the stadium and word got out that I was there through my French following. Someone came by for an interview and I kept pointing them to Abstract as it was his thing, but it just snowballed until now.”

Crash, who is into his 60s and built up a strong French following along with the likes of Jean-Michel Basquiat and Keith Haring, revealed that the inspiration behind this latest collaboration came while on his way to the beach in Hawaii.

“This is a fast-moving project,” he said. “I had already done something with Tango Hotel. We collaborated in 2020 and into 2021 and I happened to be in Hawaii that May, and we talked about doing another basketball thing.

“As I am walking to the beach, I saw these young cats playing soccer and it just occurred to me that we could do a soccer ball instead of a basketball. I got back to the hotel and contacted Saul (Cattan) to ask him. In conversation, I realized I know some people at PSG and that is how it came about.”

PSG have spent the past few years establishing themselves as the lead club when it comes to soccer meets lifestyle crossovers with the Jordan Brand collaboration particularly popular with today’s NBA stars and young fans with Crash noting the strong American influence.

“PSG, to me at least, have always been very youth-driven,” he said. “The club is just over 50 years old and relatively young compared with others in Europe. They have always trended. Basketball, like with soccer, is a beautiful sport with a flow and it was just the right thing at the right time. It had to be done.”

PSG have a collection of murals lining Parc des Princes which are dedicated to legendary players and were designed by local artists ESTIM which is something that Crash was particularly impressed by on his most recent visit to the French capital.

“When I went to the stadium, I had seen pictures, but the murals blew me away,” Crash said. “I had never seen such an interaction between a team and local artists. It is happening now with Brooklyn Nets and my friend (Eric) Haze doing jerseys and the courts.

“Abstract also had a hand in designing Miami Heat’s jersey. I painted four huge murals for the Heat’s VIP lounge so that is kind of cool. It is not to the extent of PSG, though, which is totally integrated and just blows me away.”

Although COVID-19 prevented Crash from being at the Champs-Elysees event in person, he regularly returns to Paris and is grateful to the city for its role in his development over the years alongside his friends Basquiat and Haring.

“Paris is one of my favorite cities,” he said. “I try to go at least twice a year. It is crazy and I love it. I worked with Keith in 1984 and that was my first trip to Paris! He and I did a nice collaborative mural. Le Marais is always fun. I was blessed to do a mural there. It is just alive like I cannot explain.”

Finally, a Bronx native in New York, Crash has been drawn to the familiar melting pot nature of Paris and recognizes the role that the French public — the capital and beyond — have played in his increased popularity over the years.

“Paris is a cooler version of Manhattan,” Crash said. “The melting pot is absolutely one of the attractions. That is why I feel at home. I love the French and it is funny as they have been so supportive. I do not know why but I am very grateful to them. That adds to it — I feel great there.”

Founded by Richard Hilfiger, son of Tommy, along with iconic skater Stevie Williams and contemporary artist Al-Baseer Holly, Tango Hotel’s name was inspired by the famous Hilfiger jet N818TH in the phonetic alphabet and is “synonymous with the creative lifestyle.”

“When we first partnered up with Crash, we loved everything about it and the fans gravitated to it as well and truly took that graffiti style art,” added Cattan. “We then looked to take it to the next step and partnered with PSG who are all about culture.”

The first drop of the PSGxCrashxTangoHotel collection at PSG’s Champs Elysees store includes basketball jerseys, hoodies, t-shirts, caps, and balls. 

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