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The Beat Goes On

Ex skateboarding champ Pierre André Senizergues’ tailored suits give discarded audiotape another round of play.

Pierre André Senizergues is no stranger to the effects of global warming. Growing up in L'Haÿ-les-Roses, a small suburb in the Southern part of Paris, the former-world champion skateboarder knew firsthand the effect the environment could have on young people and his sport. “I used to read magazines and thought: Wow, the palm trees, the blue skies. I have to go to California,” Senizergues said. When he moved to Los Angeles in the late eighties, conditions only got worse. The smog and the traffic of the urban metropolis was enough to have the budding environmentalist change his daily routines and that of his friends and future employees.

In 2000, the 45-year old founder of the action sports footwear and apparel company Sole Technology, re-built his company’s headquarters from the ground up, installing waterless urinals that save up to 250,000 gallons of water each year and 616 solar panels that will help his company be carbon neutral by 2020. He also retrofitted his showroom in New York with bamboo floors and petro-free paint. “It was actually a challenging thing to do,” he says of his company headquarters in Lake Forest, California. “The architect had never done a green building. The point was to change the game and do something different.”

In addition to his efforts to green his company, Senizergues will be launching C-PAS, a menswear line he collaborates with Pierluigi Pucci, formerly of Dolce & Gabbana. Each piece will be made from a mix of organic fabrics and reused materials. The centerpiece is a suit made of recycled cassette tape, which was a hit on the red carpet at the Cannes Film Festival premiere of “The 11th Hour” the documentary he executively produced with Leonardo DiCaprio.

C-PAS will launch at colette in Paris next month as part of an eco-exhibition. In addition to the organic cotton shirts and blazers made from vintage army parachutes, Senizergues will be introducing Sacre Green, a carbon neutral sneaker collection made from sustainable materials. Each pair of shoes will come in a shoebox embedded with seeds that can be planted. In addition, he will be planting trees in Costa Rica to offset the carbon output of the production of the line. For Senizergues, every day is Earth Day. That’s a tune everyone should listen to.

Dazed Digital: What is on your playlist these days? Who are you listening to?
Pierre André Senizergues: There is some great stuff coming out of France – not that I’m biased or anything. Anything from Ed Banger is amazing and Justice. The whole crew is just phenomenal.  James Brown, because his music is classic.

DD: How did you get interested in the environment and global warming in the first place?
Pierre André Senizergues: From an early age, I was conscious of the environment around me, especially when I was skateboarding in Paris. It was very difficult to breathe from all of the pollution. When I realized how important it was to look around me and take note of my impact, I began my environmental mission. In 2000, after visiting my good friend Darryl Hannah on her ranch, I was amazed at the resources that could be used to give back to the environment. My company was the perfect place to make a big impact because I could reach and inspire a lot of people. With action sports tied so closely to the environment, it just made sense.

DD: What efforts did you take to green your company and your lifestyle?
Pierre André Senizergues: Everything I do within my company and in my personal life, I am always thinking about how it will impact the environment and what I can do differently to lighten my footprint. It takes time to change people’s behaviour, but you can always start small and then go big. For me, it is a balance that has involved little steps such as turning off the lights when I leave a room to implementing training programs with our manufacturers in China to adopt more environmentally friendly practices, such as the use of water-based cement into our shoes.

DD: How did the idea for the suit come about?
Pierre André Senizergues: With my role as executive producer, I knew I couldn’t walk down the red carpet at the premiere of “The 11th Hour” at the Cannes Film Festival in a tuxedo that wasn’t environmentally friendly. When I found this amazing material that had audiotape weaved into the fabric to give it a glossy finish, I thought it would make the perfect tuxedo for this occasion. It was an existing fabric that no one was using. I found a tailor in Koreatown in Los Angeles who made tuxedos for Brad Pitt and we lined the inside of the tuxedo with recycled Etnies t-shirts.

DD: This line is very influenced by your own sense of style. How has skate culture changed since you started?
Pierre André Senizergues: Skate and street culture has changed tremendously throughout the years. Always ahead of the curve, skate culture is now more accessible. Skateboarder’s fashion trends were once their own subculture, but over the years it has carried over and impacted a new style of fashion. Many designers look to what skaters are wearing to get inspiration. If you want to know what the next hottest trend will be, take a look on the streets, the new runways of fashion. Since fashion has such a strong influence and can make a positive impact in reducing our footprint just by what we wear, bringing it to colette provided a natural synergy for influential tastemakers to get a firsthand look at how sustainable style can have an impact.

C-PAS will launch at colette on 5th June to coincide with the opening reception of the store’s green window display and exhibition. For more information, visit the website.