When the former skater Lev Tanju started producing T-shirts in his basement flat under the brand name Palace 10 years ago, he never thought that he would see his logo on the backs of some of the best football players in the world. So when Juventus, the Italian home of Cristiano Ronaldo and Gianluigi Buffon, invited the brand to design their 2019/2020 season kit, it was a dream come true. “It was amazing and crazy,” says Tanju. “They are an iconic football team and have some of my favourite players.”
Palace has long graduated from Tanju’s basement; still independent, it now has four stand-alone stores, concessions in Dover Street Market, and a reported turnover of £25m. it is a skate brand that sells streetwear, turning it out in weekly “drops”, responding to its customers’ appetite for newness and novelty (while also giving rise to a healthy cottage industry in the re-sale market). Its in-house style is irreverent and often pokes fun at the fashion system that it is, nevertheless, a part of, having collaborated with Ralph Lauren, Adidas, Jean-Charles de Castelbajac and Reebok.
A partnership on this level – a 10-year-old skate brand and one of the oldest and greatest Serie A football teams has never taken place before. It’s both brave unexpected, yet there is an authenticity to it. Palace is unique in the way it is positioned– cool, underground and elusive, but with the oomph of brand 10 times it’s size. It is hard to imagine any other label pulling this collaboration off.
The collection for Juventus includes three kits in two different colour ways, two tracksuits, a jacket, training tops, baseball caps, a beanie, a sports bag, gloves, scarves and a football (which, sadly, won’t be used in games). The on-pitch kit has Juventus’s iconic stripes fading into an eye-melting op-art black-and-white check, punctuated with the sponsor’s logos in fluorescent green. It nods to the fact that the British football fan’s style was inspired by Italian brands from the 1980s, and sits on the intersectional point for skatewear, football and leisure culture.
“The design process was really working out how to make it Juventus, but with a Palace edge – a bit wonky and crazy,” says Tanju. “Our designer, Nugget, brought a lot to the table, referencing 90s football gear, beanies and bag.”
The small team at Palace is closer than family, and they all love what they do, says Tanju. “I’ve known my business partner for 20 years; I used to skate with him,” he says. “There’s no guy in a suit looking over our shoulders saying we can’t do something because it didn’t sell. We make things we want to make.”