And then came an on-going partnership with adidas, in 2014.
Like the Umbro collaboration, the early
adidas releases placed Palace’s Britishness at the intersection of skateboarding and soccer. It was only in May, 2015, after two successful releases of “teamwear”, as Tanju called it at the time, that the first Palace-branded adidas sneakers surfaced. The wait was worth it, though, with the the Palace Pro being Palace’s, “OWN SPESH ULTIMATE MASH MAN PALACE HIGH-BRID TRAINERS INSTEAD OF A ROPEY COLOUR WAY TING THAT SOME OTHER WASTE COMPANIES WILL BE TRYIN TO PROVIDE.” Or, in non-Palace speak: a unique Pro model, rather than a limited-edition version of an adidas classic.
Exploring Britishness has remained a central theme of Palace’s project with adidas, with no more notable example than
a tennis-themed collection that coincided with Wimbledon in 2018—and, importantly, worn on court by the likes of Angelique Kerber and Alexander Zverev. That may have given Palace and adidas a taste for sports-related stunts as, less than a year later, the duo collaborated on a limited-edition Juventus kit, as well as training apparel and accessories—again, worn during a Serie A fixture. It speaks to Tanju and Palace’s shoot-for-the-moon mentality; something that again, is a testament to the brand’s authentic skate DNA. No collaboration, no partnership, no stunt seems impossible—just like any trick must seem possible to McCoy and Clarke when they’re skating.
In the midst of the brand’s first footwear release with adidas, during Spring/Summer 2015, Palace opened its first permanent retail location, in Soho, around the corner from legendary London brand
Maharishi’s outpost and a stone’s throw from Supreme’s store. Again, that phrase—“posh new high-end shit”—resonates when thinking about the store: luxurious black and white marble floors greet customers upon entrance, reminiscent of the opulence of the Italian luxury brands Palace loves to riff on; that’s juxtaposed with steel pipe racking carrying an assortment of the season’s pieces; walk through the store and you end up in a room with a nice wrap-around upholstered bench, where you’ll find accessories, footwear, denim, TVs and a makeshift DJ setup. Depending on where you look, you might feel like you’re in a skate shop—or in a high-end flagship.
But do those two things have to be mutually exclusive? It’s a duality that Palace has explored over the years. The brand’s stores—quite literally high-low palaces—are exemplary of this, like the fountain in the New York store that riffs on both the iconic Belgian Manneken fountain and the Britishism of “taking the piss”, but so too are the collections that they house. For years, now, Palace has allowed itself to touch on things traditional skate brands have ignored. It started with the Versace and Chanel rips, but evolved to things like snakeskin
penny loafers—paired, as only Palace could, with a track suit. It’s absurd, hilarious graphics, juxtaposed with absurdly technical Gore-Tex-equipped outerwear. Working with [Avirex], but also Pringle of Scotland. It's about being known for T-shirts and the Tri-Ferg, but also elaborate denim and intarsia knits.
In this sense, the comparison with Supreme is at least somewhat apt. Both brands are comfortable with one foot in the skateboarding world and the other in the fashion world. Lucien Clarke and Blondey McCoy are regular guests of Jonathan Anderson at fashion shows, and the latter launched his own brand,
Thames, before eventually leaving Palace.
By 2018, Palace was largely seen as Supreme’s equal. That’s underscored by two of the brand’s crowning achievements, which illustrate the brand’s quasi-absurdist existence—and absurd popularity.
On the one hand is Juergen Teller’s recurring involvement in producing Palace’s lookbooks. Tanju is proud that, to this day, Palace is run by the same group of friends,
they’re “just busier.” Clarke, for example, is still the perennial model for the new Palace collection. (This season, the brand’s famously witty copy claimed “Lucien was 9.5 hours late for the Autumn lookbook shoot”.) The one change has been famed fashion photographer Teller’s involvement in the lookbooks since Spring/Summer 2018. Considering Palace’s London roots, and the store’s proximity to SHOWstudio-affiliated MACHINE-A, it wouldn’t have been surprising to see Nick Knight lens one of Palace’s campaigns. Honestly, Teller’s naturalist style is more suited to Palace’s aesthetic and the results have only solidified the brand’s weird, skaters-into-fashion identity.