- Words Matthew Williams
- Date July 26, 2018
Justin Saunders, Virgil Abloh, Heron Preston and myself are the four founding members of #BEENTRILL#. There's a very rare Stüssy T-shirt that has each of the names on the back, including a mystery member, as well.
I met Heron through my friend Ricky Saiz, who grew up with him in San Francisco. We were already friends for a while, prior to forming #BEENTRILL#. Virgil was independently friends with Heron, as well, so when Virgil and I were in New York for work, we'd link up with Heron. I met Justin in London while he was on a trip working with 'Ye. His site JJJJound was, and still is now, an important resource for image inspiration. We all gradually became friends through hanging out and working together.
#BEENTRILL# was created in the Lanesborough Hotel. We were all staying there during the Watch the Throne tour while 'Ye was recording Cruel Summer. We weren’t hearing the music that we liked when we would go out in London, so we would collectively takeover a DJ booth and play music. I think the first official #BEENTRILL# party was at Le Baron in London. We had so much fun with it that we were playing gigs on a regular basis. It was a great reason to all hang out together outside of work. Each of us lived in different cities so the gigs allowed us to travel and see each other more often. I was living in Venice Beach, Justin in Montreal, Virgil in Chicago and Heron was in New York. Heron, Virgil and Justin were already making make one-off T-shirts here and there just for themselves or for a couple friends, so the #BEENTRILL# merch came from there.
The origin of the name #BEENTRILL# comes from our connection with internet culture and rap music.
>>>"#BEENTRILL# was an open source idea. Looking in the past, what's unique about #BEENTRILL# is that it was open source and it was inclusive—it was the opposite of elitist. Usually a downtown community based in sort of streetwear or skate culture usually has this air of, 'We're cool and you're not.' That collective of us, we preached fun." -Virgil Abloh
In the end, working with PacSun (and eventually the other global licenses) was the ultimate collaboration. We were making very limited runs of #BEENTRILL# pieces for friends, family and our NYC Canal Street store, but to our surprise, the rest of the world was hungry for #BEENTRILL#. I think everybody on the internet thought we were taking #BEENTRILL# a lot more seriously than we actually were. #BEENTRILL# was just about getting out and testing new ideas. We weren't treating the brand like it was going be around for a hundred years. It was more like how rap music is today: release a song and move on to the next.
For us, #BEENTRILL# was always about inclusiveness and collaboration, not exclusivity. Everybody was invited to the party and to participate in it. That's the thing too about PacSun; they’re not about making limited things for just a few guys or girls to buy and resell. PacSun has stores across the country so it made #BEENTRILL# more accessible to anyone who wanted it.