It’s attracted the appreciation of Jay-Z, Beyonce and Rhianna – but things weren’t always that way. British streetwear brand Palace has become one of the hottest labels on the planet, and, to some, that journey appears to have taken place overnight.
According to company founder Levent Tanju, it’s all about authenticity. The head honcho at Palace eats, sleep and breathes skateboarding culture. His certainly shines through with a brand renowned for its alternative marketing strategy.
Tanju is responsible for the product descriptions on Palace’s website – a frequently overlooked aspect which the company founder has grabbed and subsequently ran with. Whilst most retailers supply bland product information of materials and stitching, Palace goes for something a little bit different, such as a bomber jacket advertised as “112% gully” or a sweatshirt stating “I’m craving deep-fried [redacted] cheese”. It may not explain the product, but it works – Palace has attracted immense popularity for its tongue-in-cheek approach to marketing.
As the son of a former Turkish professional footballer and a English kitchen porter, Tanju grew up in south London where the family ran Jack’s Place, a Clapham-based restaurant. Tanju’s upbringing has undoubtedly inspired his take on fashion – the nostalgia towards the ’90s is strong. For Tanju, the ’90s represent a time of freedom, fun and great parties.
Aside from the slightly garish colours and over-the-top logos, cultural references suggest a designer with an affinity to days-gone-by. References to films such as the Terminator cast the designer to a past-generation, with Mitsubishi-printed ecstasy tablets on t-shirts signalling the former hedonism of the streetwear brand’s founder. This undoubtedly appeals to Palace’s customer base – thanks, in part, to the resurgence of ’90s themes by other brands such as Bape, Supreme and Off-White.
The story behind Palace is bedded in the experiences of its founder’s youth. Although Tanju is now in his mid-thirties, the co-founder regularly reflects on his days as a teenager, which he spent skating at the Southbank skate undercroft. Long summer days spent filming his friends initially gave way to Palace: originally conceived as a way to support up-and-coming skaters, Tanju partnered up with childhood friend Gareth Skewis and professional skateboarders Lucien, Blondey and Chewy.
Despite Tanju’s status as a skating-clique insider, the journey of the streetwear entrepreneur suggests that he is anything but an elitist. The company founder commonly reflects on his youth spent working in skate shops across London, where he immersed himself in the industry during his time offering scooters and skateboards to begging children and their parents.
Palace has come along way since those days, with the new lines regularly selling out their garments within hours. Queues can regularly be seen outside their stores when new, infamously small lines are realised to the eager public. Whether the brand is spotted on the backs of suburban teenagers or on the sweatshirts of professional skateboarders, Palace Skateboards and the success of the company shows no signs of slowing down.
With Palace, Tanju has demonstrated that with the right amount of nostalgia and the right level of cheekiness, success in the streetwear industry is achievable to anyone. However, being cool does help.