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Places+FacesPhotography Ciesay and Soulz

How a Tumblr became an in-demand streetwear label

Ciesay and Soulz started photography and lifestyle site Place+Faces, which has become a streetwear force to be reckoned with – preview their latest collection here

When it comes to photographing the grime, hip hop and urban music scenes, Ciesay and Soulz are two names you need to know. Under the moniker Places+Faces, the pair have spent the last three years jetting between London and New York, shooting pretty much anyone from those scenes you can think of. From Skepta, JME, Wiley and the BBK crew to A$AP Rocky and the A$AP Mob, Frank Ocean and many others besides. What began by sneaking into parties and taking pics ended up spawning a Tumblr which, in turn, gave birth to the lifestyle and photography site we now know as Places+Faces. Merch followed and, thanks to its inordinate success, it’s now pretty much a streetwear brand in its own right. Days after opening their latest exhibition in Seoul, Korea, which saw the duo present a new body of work featuring the likes of Skepta and Young Thug, Ciesay and Soulz are gearing up to drop their latest collection. Here, alongside an exclusive preview of its accompanying lookbook, Ciesay talks us through this new range, their journey so far, and why Places+Faces will always be about more than “just t-shirts”.

What is Places+Faces, for people who don’t know?

Ciesay: Places+Faces is a lifestyle and photography site created by myself and Soulz. It started in 2013, when I was in New York. I had a camera and I was like, ‘Damn, I have this camera, what am I going to do with it?’ There were a lot of things happening out there, like A$AP throwing a listening party, 2 Chainz throwing an album release party, all of that stuff. So I just thought, ‘Fuck it, I’ll just finesse my way into these events and take pictures.’ I was 20 at the time, but I just got into every event. With that, I had all of these photos that I took and I didn’t know where to put them. So I hit up my friend, Soulz, who’s a photographer and said, ‘While I shoot in New York why don’t you shoot in London?’ Then we put some pictures on Tumblr and we didn’t know what to call it. So I thought fuck it, let’s call it Places+Faces.

When did you start making clothes?

Ciesay: I started making clothes a year later, in 2014. At the time it was just for me and Soulz, so that when we go to events, when we’re on stage, or backstage, we’re building our brand. When we started putting stuff online, we started to think about selling it as merch. It became popular so we started making more designs.

What kind of look are you going for?

Ciesay: Whatever I like to wear. I always try to make my stuff relate to photography as well. I had a t-shirt that said ‘No Photos Allowed’. I don’t like people taking pictures of me and I know a lot of musicians and people who don’t either. So that was a kind of ironic t shirt. But at the same time, I try to make stuff that I’d feel comfortable in, that I’d like to see myself wearing in the street. If people like it, they like it, if they don’t, I still like it.

How about the logo, what inspired that?

Ciesay: The idea came from when Acne had their ‘Acne Studios Est 2002’. I liked that and did Est 00, which kind of symbolised infinity. It’s supposed to be mysterious so you don’t really know when Places+Faces started, just that it’s here now and you have to accept that. From there I was just playing on the plus sign. I like making a t-shirt when I go to a different city, too. When we went to Toronto we made a Toronto exclusive t-shirt, where we replaced the plus sign with the Canadian maple leaf. We do this with events too, like at Valentine’s Day we switch it like a heart, at Halloween a pumpkin. Stuff that’s fun and cool, we don’t really take ourselves that seriously.  

So when are you dropping your new clothes?

Ciesay: In the first week of October. I’ve shot the lookbook in New York, and some more stuff in South Korea.

“I try to make stuff that I’d like to see myself wearing in the street. If people like it, they like it, if they don’t, I still like it” – Ciesay

What can we expect in this range?

Ciesay: We’ve got a lot of things manufactured professionally this time. Before, I had to print on stuff myelf, but now my new pieces, like my tracksuit bottoms and jackets, are manufactured how I want them. Specifically how I want them. A lot of pieces feature my work as well. The new jacket has a picture on the back of it that I took in Tokyo, a car driving past with the lights in the background. There’s a tote bag as well, and on one side there’s a picture I took in Tokyo too. I find all of my photos of landscapes and put them on clothes, not really my celebrity pictures.  

Speaking of celebrities, who have you got to wear your stuff?

Ciesay: Wiz Khalifa has worn it, members of the A$AP Mob. A lot of people ask for it, but we don’t send it out just because they’re a celebrity. We like to build relationships. Because we had a relationship with the Mob for, like, three years, so when I send them stuff they love to wear it. With Wiz, he saw us wearing a hoodie and said he liked it. I just happened to have one in my bag so I gave it to him. The next day we just hung out all day and shot it. Lots of PRs ask for stuff but if I don’t have a personal relationship with them I don’t really want to give it to them. I feel like when people give their stuff to a lot of celebrities, it becomes a bit corny. 

Long-term, where do you want to take the clothing aspect of Places+Faces?

Ciesay: At first it was a side project, but now I’m starting to take things a bit more seriously, in terms of how I release stuff and how I want people to see it as well. I don’t want people to think about Places+Faces as just t-shirts. I don’t want to be in every store – that’s how brands become saturated, when they’re easily accessible. I like to keep people wondering when I’m going to release something. I might not say something for a good month and then a week before I drop my stuff I’ll say that it’s releasing and it creates a panic of people getting ready to buy. Then it will sell out and that’s a good feeling. I just want to see how it goes, I never really plan stuff – I just like to go with the motion. If the train stops, then I’ll just jump on another train.