Palace’s Lev Tanju on “Need for Speed ​​Unbound”

Need for Speed is a right of passage, an open world of automotive hedonism and customizable freedom that allows gamers – like many of us at Hypebeast – to experience that much-needed sense of escapism.

Apart from being deeply immersive, Need for Speed is also proud of nostalgia-driven moments (who else remembers Most desired BMW M3 GTR E46 or Undergroundis the Mitsubishi Eclipse?)

This is what governs Palace’s latest collaboration. Sentimentality runs through the London-based brand’s roots, often picking up both niche components of culture and cornerstones of society – and Need for Speed is one of the last.

Palace’s founder, Lev Tanju, has fond memories of playing video games. “I grew up on Mario and sh*t like that,” he proudly proclaimed in his interview with Hypebeast. And while his connection to the game came later in life, it’s the IRL components that inspire Tanju’s in-game creations.

From his father’s Volkswagen Golf GTI to his penchant for boxy cars, Tanju’s love for cars is undeniably influential to his industry. Such cars often feature in Palace lookbooks and prints, and now they appear in Need for Speed ​​Unbound along with collaborations with A$AP Rocky, Balmain and Versace.

Which we found ours on Need For Speed ​​​​Unbound The “London Takeover” event, the video game is typical NFS – Vivid arcade graphics meet hyper-realistic landscapes and highly customizable cars, characters are the digital embodiment of yourself, and the challenges are as strange as expected. Combine that with Palace’s ability to not take themselves too seriously and you have a partnership that just makes sense.

In an exclusive interview, Hypebeast speaks to Lev Tanju to find out why Palace have taken a step into the gaming world, while keeping their relaxed ethos at the heart of what they do.

Hypebeast: What was your relationship like before the collaboration Need for Speed?

Lev Tanju: I’ve been on various skate trips with the boys and we play games, that’s how it really is. I came in Need for Speed later – because I’m quite old.

Palace’s crowd is of the generation that played Need for Speed – do you think this will be a good point of contact for them?

Yes I think so. Cars to me are cool – we made these Mercedes and they’re unaffordable and super expensive; one was a race car, the G-Wagon was a one-off, so it’s super exciting to design something and then have people use what you’ve designed in a completely different world.

The choice of cars is incredibly eclectic and iconic. Is there a reason you chose these four?

The Golf and the M3 are in our brand DNA – we’ve used them in the Ralph Lauren collaboration, we’ve used them in an all-over print, corduroy two-piece or T-shirts with the GTI print on them.

My dad had a GTI when I was growing up. Is done. There must be something in the back of my mind that keeps me coming back to it.

But they are perfect English racing cars for boys, they are part of the English culture. It’s the obvious thing to do because, to me, they scream Palace the most.

They are zeitgeists in their time.

Right. We are a nostalgic company; the way we make our skate videos looks back a lot in time. There are things that are important to me and to us, and that’s what makes the brands real, when you do what you want and what you like.

“Two weeks later I’m on Zoom with the ‘EA Sports: It’s In The Game’ guy talking to him to get him to say Palace stuff.”

These cars are design classics. I like square cars. I really like boxy cars. That’s also something I think is cool [representing] the image of youth culture.

How do these cars represent the culture?

Loud fucking drum ‘n’ bass music or driving around listening to happy hardcore. The GTI was the banging available whip, I mean you had to be rich to get it but you could. They drive well too. It’s just an obvious part of English culture and many other places too, maybe not America. It’s linked to us, we’re a London brand and it was a car from our childhood.

It never gets old looking at that car. We love going back to it and bringing it out into real life to play is a really cool opportunity.

“It never gets old” is a great way to describe it Need for Speed. How does it feel to be part of something so iconic?

It’s amazing man. I am so lucky to work with them. It’s always nice to work with people who don’t have a plan until they ask what you want to do. We asked if we could get the EA Sports guy to speak, and they got the actual guy; two weeks later I’m on a Zoom with [immitates] The ‘EA Sports: It’s In The Game’ guy talks to him to get him to say Palace stuff. I like to make things that exist forever – people can play that game at any time, and it’s a milestone for us to be able to put our energy into that world that we haven’t encountered before.

How did you translate the ethos of Palace into the digital world? Need for Speed?

We are such a visual brand, down to our graphics and how we market ourselves. We are fun and happy, we are not too cool for school and we like to do things that make people laugh. I guess we’re quite a humorous brand.

It’s fun to do weird things: when the car skids, the signs come out from the wheels. We wanted to do fun things, silly ideas you have with your mate when you’re sitting on the sofa, but being able to put it into practice.

We just ran with it. We did the four cars that are important to us, and it was quite natural. It wasn’t super serious; all the car appliqués were fun and we’re hyped that people can customize their own sh*t and try on the clothes.

The [EA] the guys were so good at making our stuff happen.

How did it feel creatively to design your first digital clothing collection?

Fun. It’s horrifying to see these things come to life in a computer game. I really enjoy working with brands that know what they are doing and are the best at what they do, which makes it fun and easy.

Have Palace learned anything from the world of gaming?

It is a starting point that we are overwhelmed by. When we had conversions, it felt like the perfect time to do it. We don’t circle things and say “we have to do this now,” it’s more about things [associated with us]. People in the office are skaters and they are gamers. We wanted to make it feel right, and it’s good to do things when you like what the other partner is doing.

What do you hope this will bring to Palace’s audience?

It’s an opportunity for us to show a completely different audience what Palace is all about. Someone in the middle of nowhere driving a branded GTI is pretty funny to me. Maybe they’ll check out the brand and realize that there are things from London that are interesting and that there are different ways to approach a video game and cars – it doesn’t have to be a Lamborghini or whatever, you can mess around with the concepts of what cars in a game should be. I hope it just introduces Palace to new people and then they check out our lineage.

“We’re London and we love the streets and the cars. It’s deeper than a T-shirt with graphics on it.”

It’s cool because these cars actually existed, stuck up and painted like that. That G-Wagon was hand-sprayed and it’s the only one in the world; I am so glad to live in the world forever and not just belong to one person and no one sees it. Maybe they want to check out that collaboration.

As fun as Palace is, this is serious business. It educates.

There is a reason why we do all these things. It’s a computer game, but there’s depth to what we do and why we chose these cars. It’s exciting to me to think that a kid might think “why the hell did they make the GTI?” but they can figure it out for themselves and look at the reasons why we use that car. Why we bring back these mental cars, the oldest piece of shit.

It gives them the opportunity to dig deeper into what Palace is all about. We are London and we love the streets and the cars. It’s deeper than a T-shirt with graphics on it.

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