Though he canâ€™t recall much, Upper Playground co-founder Matt Revelli speaks firmly of the Upper Playground brand and its backbone, a solid art foundation. Upper Playgroundâ€™s signature art gallery FIFTY24SF is a staple of the brand and fully reveals the artistic standard and constituent influence behind the designs translated onto Upper Playgroundâ€™s fashions.
Initially created to represent its birthplace of San Francisco, California, the brand pushes creativity above following popular trends without being mistaken as old fashioned. â€œWe are showcasing contemporary art in various forms. We make apparel, documentaries, have exhibitions from world-class artists, have community projects, books, toys and etcetera,â€ says Revelli.
To further distinguish their individuality, Upper Playground chose the familiar beastly and eerie mammal known as a walrus to represent the face of Upper Playground. â€œWe just do what we feel is interesting to us.â€ This is perhaps Upper Playgroundâ€™s way of separating themselves from the clichÃ© competition.
â€œThe walrus is a very mellow animal and pretty much stays to itself. However, if you poke it or fuck with it in anyway it will attack violently and not stop until death.â€
Format: Who are the founders behind Upper Playground and what are their backgrounds in art?
Matt Revelli: I donâ€™t have any specific background as an artist, but as a collector and follower of contemporary art since my early `20s, Iâ€™ve been surrounded by the genre and have had an extremely inside perspective, I guess you could say, I am on the ebbs and flows of the moment. Founder Matt Yep is without any artistic background as well. Denis Kennedy, another founder, is a graphic designer and painter.
Format: Why was the line named Upper Playground and what is the meaning behind it?
Matt Revelli: The brand has always been based on the idea of always wanting to elevate oneâ€™s self to the next level, always advancing and wanting to surpass the goals set, whether that be in merchandise, art, or both in co-existence. We forget why it was named Upper Playground.
Format: Can you explain the variation of style between Upper Playground and the family brands?
Matt Revelli: Upper Playground is the brand, our flagship brand if you will. With the family brands, you have FIFTY24SF that showcases the artists that we collaborate with, and align with the exhibitions and artists that we show in our galleries. The artists we have long-standing relationships with we have created co-brands with: Sam Flores is 12 Grain, Jeremy Fish is SuperFishal and Estevan Oriol has a line with us as well.
Format: When you first started in 1998, what was the most difficult aspect of getting into the streetwear industry?
Matt Revelli: Itâ€™s all about building a boat from scratch, and trying it out to see if it floats.
Format: What does the Walrus logo represent and who came up with that logo?
Matt Revelli: The walrus is a good figure for Upper Playground because itâ€™s viewed as a vicious animal in the wild, yet other people see as playful, slightly odd looking animal. The walrus is a very mellow animal and pretty much stays to itself. However, if you poke it or fuck with it in anyway it will attack violently and not stop until death. This may or may not have anything to do with why we are called Upper Playground with a walrus logo. We canâ€™t remember who came up with the logo
Format: Upper Playground is a brand thatâ€™s widely known particularly in San Francisco and California, in general. What inspiration has the Bay Area had on the brand?
Matt Revelli: A lot, too much and sometimes not enough. We are all from the Bay Area, live in the Bay Area and are influenced by a lot of things here. Itâ€™s a very creative thinking community and itâ€™s hard not to notice whatâ€™s going on around you. Weâ€™re happy to be pushing it forward and being involved.
Format: Within the brand there is so much diversity between the various collections, to the point where they appear to be made by different brands. What messages are you trying to send with each of the sub-brands?
Matt Revelli: Like I mentioned, with the family of brands, you have FIFTY24SF that showcases the artists that we collaborate with, and align with the exhibitions and artists that we show in our galleries. Our other lines, Sam Flores is 12 Grain, Jeremy Fish is SuperFishal, and Estevan Oriol are all expansions on working relationships we have had with these artists over the years. Upper Playground, as the flagship brand, is like the umbrella.
Format: What is it about Upper Playground that distinguishes it from other streetwear brands?
Matt Revelli: We are showcasing contemporary art from exhibiting artists. Whether that be on a t-shirt, poster, hoodie, hat, or housewares, itâ€™s about utilizing art in your everyday life. Not sure what other brands have as their mission statements, but we do what we do.
Format: Is there anything that is lacking from the streetwear industry that Upper Playground is seeking to provide?
Matt Revelli: Like we said before, we are showcasing contemporary art in various forms. We make apparel, documentaries, have exhibitions from world-class artists, have community projects, books, toys and etcetera. Weâ€™re not sure that we are filling a lack, but we just try and create the atmosphere that we would most want to be a part of. I donâ€™t see other streetwear brands as lacking anything; we just do what we feel is interesting to us.
Format: Trends in the industry change every year, what is one thing about the brand that continues to evolve and what is one thing that always remains the same?
Matt Revelli: We have a continually expanding roster of artists that we work with each season, and always include the most recognizable emerging and established artists. That is how we stay consistent. Really donâ€™t have much desire to keep tabs on what everyone else is doing. If itâ€™s interesting to us, itâ€™s something that we typically explore in some shape or form.
Format: If Upper Playground had a soundtrack, whatâ€™s one of the songs that would be on it?
Matt Revelli: Anything by Led Zepplin, Z-Trip or Aesop Rock.
More Info: http://www.upperplayground.com