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    Speak Softly and Carry a Sick Overshirt: Inside the Very Chill World of Paa, Menswear’s Quietest Brand

    In 2018, Verik relocated, with his wife and newborn, to Los Angeles. “We do a lot of FaceTime,” Jurado said about how their working relationship changed. “I feel like we know each other pretty well so we don’t always have to look at something together. We do the postal service situation, mailing swatches back and forth. He’ll make a proto[type] and send it to me to try on.” This primed them well for the pandemic, during which time they began searching for a home for the store. By the spring of 2021 they had committed to the Chinatown space, working with the designer Loren Daye, whom Jurado had met while they were both working for Ace, to create a Brutalist, rectilinear room with clear sightlines and paper-thin aluminum display tables and shelving that contribute no interference. The elements sound severe but the total effect is, paradoxically, softness.

    “There is an easy-going-ness that comes off as gentleness,” Daye said of Verik and Jurado’s work, “but also deep conviction and visual sensitivity. There’s austerity and restraint but also loose, spontaneous joy.” (She called their evolution as designers “a slow jam.”) Behind a glass block wall toward the back, they’ve set up a small studio, where Verik now works most days. It reminds me of something he told me: what you see is what you get.

    The store is on the ground level of a plaza in Chinatown, faced away from the street. It is definitely not Rodeo Drive, or Silver Lake, or even Melrose, where a raft of New York brands and galleries have alighted recently. Its relatively unfashionable location, away from much of the city, is fitting. Jurado and Verik say that a storefront was always part of their plan, but that they weren’t sure when or where they would realize it. They found it worked in Los Angeles. It helped, too, that much of their manufacturing is here, not to mention much of their families. “There’s a good energy there,” Jurado said. “I think Al and I both go off the energy of places a lot — you know, does it feel good? “It’s very tranquil,” Verik added. “It just suits us, I think, as people. It’s inside, so you have to kind of come find us. You have to know where we are.” There was a beat before Jurado added: “I mean, it’s not that hard.”

    A few weeks after the opening, Jurado is back in New York. Verik has joined him for a few days, and they suggest we meet at La Bonbonniere, the West Village greasy spoon that’s weathered nearly a hundred years of fashionable bistros and innovations in brunching. Peter and I order omelets; Al’s chili comes out looking a bit sad, but he’s too polite to say so or send it back. For the last decade or so fashion has been obsessed with collaboration, an exercise in co-branding which demands novelty but not coherence. Paa has up to this point refrained from participating. This isn’t a moral stance; both Jurado and Verik are open to collaboration, but are wary of having to compromise. Which is not to say they haven’t thought about what it might look like, if they did: at that 2020 runway show, they dressed the models in Reebok Classic Nylon and Leather models blocked, respectively, in tonal cream and dove gray, with the Reebok logo covered with polar fleece. These were not, strictly speaking, a collaboration, and were never intended for production. “I spray painted those shoes myself,” Jurado said.

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