How did the collaboration between Umbro and Palace originally come about?
‘I was on a skate trip in Cornwall when I got an email through saying “would you be interested in working with Umbro?” At the time, Palace was just getting started and we were getting loads of people getting in touch with us like this and we just weren’t interested, but then I saw Umbro and I just thought it’d be good thing to do – you’re English and we’re English, you know? It felt right. So I came and talked through it with you guys, and I got the idea for adapting the England football shirt, and it all came from that really.’
For anyone not familiar with Palace, how did you start?
‘It’s not seen here as much as in places like America, but there is a massive skate culture here in the UK. I always used to buy American boards, stuff like that, there was no English stuff that I really liked, and about three years ago I just thought I’d start an English company. And then it’s just gone off from there!’
You’ve risen pretty fast then?
‘Yeah, it’s been good –when stuff is real and honest, it’s going to go down well. People can see that it’s not corporate and fake, I think that’s why people like Palace, because they can see that it’s run by a bunch of skaters. Like Umbro, people know what you’re doing and trust what you come out with.’
The collaboration is inspired by 1990 – where did that come from?
‘It was an important World Cup for me, I remember watching the whole thing while I was holiday and being really into it, it was probably the first one I watched. Even the team and everything from that time has become iconic now, even the fact that we lost – it’s kind of funny to do something from an era where the team ultimately didn’t make it, compared to 1966. The shirt from that time with the jacquard print really stands out for me, I love that shirt, and the fact that the blue one was from the same year just made me want to do something with that era.’
How did you go about putting the Palace touch on things?
‘I design everything for Palace usually, for this one it was me and my friend Nugget, who’s a young skater who’s got a good eye for this sort of thing. I had a pretty clear idea of how the white shirt would look, and then with the drill tops we did, Nugget helped with the colours on that. We didn’t really tell anyone else at Palace about it until we had the first samples, and then they just thought it was crackers, they couldn’t work out if it was official or if we were going to get in trouble for doing it!’
There’s a few cool little touches like the button-down collars, where did those ideas come from?
‘Umbro weren’t sure about that originally, but we really wanted to do it so it smartens everything up, it makes it a bit different and weird. It is a bit of a strange thing to do to a football top, but I think that’s one of the things that people like about us. It’s quite subtle, which we like. Either really subtle or really lairy, that’s us – no half measures.’
The video captures that era brilliantly! Was it good fun to make?
‘It was amazing, so good! I had that in my mind from the start, it just made perfect sense. We had a great time, and it was great that Umbro were up for it as well. For some people that’d make no sense, but it’s something that’s a bit different for us.’ Could you see Palace collaborating again, with Umbro or somebody else?
‘If something came up that we liked, then definitely. It’d have to be something that I can see working, rather than just doing it for the sake of it or to make a load of money – it has to mean something and be a bit different. With Umbro there’s that Englishness and that visual identity and it also fitted with what we’re all about, so if there’s another idea like that then I’d love to.’
Finally, are you looking forward to seeing people sporting the Palace shirts this summer?
‘Most definitely. It’s great for summer as it’s supporting England and also a bunch of crazy skateboarders, so it’ll be cool to see people wearing it!’
Thanks to Lev for speaking to us about the collaboration, which is on sale now at selected skate stores here in the UK.