WORDS BY ROB NOWILL
The menswear collective PAQ are often described as the ‘Top Gear of streetwear’. But I’m not sure that does them justice. For one thing, of course, they’re an awful lot better dressed. And their personalities and humour have little in common with the dad-jokes of Jeremy Clarkson.
I’d say, in fact, that they’re more like a new-gen menswear version of the Spice Girls: it’s hard to follow them without picking a favourite. If you watch their Youtube channel (which, each week, 270,000 of their subscribers do), you’ll see that their commenters and fans each seem to gravitate towards one of the four of them. There’s Elias, the charmer; Danny, the chatty one; Shaquille, the arty one; and Dexter, the introspective one. It’s not hard to find one that you can identify with.
Fresh off the back of their fashion week takeover for Farfetch (which played out across our Instagram channels), we caught up with the foursome to talk men’s fashion, masculinity and standing out.
Where did the name PAQ come from?
Elias: We were trying to think of words that suggest a group, or a tribe, and we started thinking about us being like a pack. And we all liked it. So we started playing around with the spelling, and landed on PAQ.
Danny: I kind of like the idea that people always think the letters stand for something, when really they don’t.
Have you always been into fashion?
Danny: I’ve always had a heavy interest in fashion. I worked in a clothes shop in Bridlington, and I found it fascinating. So I went to college and studied fashion, but I was terrible on a sewing machine and hated writing essays.
Shaquille: Me and Dexter both used to dance. And at the time that scene was all about skinny jeans, snap-backs and vans. So I got really into that look, and I was the only person in my neighbourhood who was dressing like that. I used to get a lot of comments for it! But I realised that I liked dressing for myself. So then I really started to push it: berets, dungarees, you name it.
Elias: I was scouted to be a model. So I did that for a couple of years, and that was my introduction to fashion. Modelling really became a stepping stone into working as a presenter.
Dexter: With me, it all started with kicks. When I was at school we were all forced to wear a uniform, so sneakers were the one way you could express yourself. So I was obsessed with Nikes. I still am, to be honest.
Is there anything you’d never wear?
Dexter: Colour! I even paint my nails black. (laughs).
Danny: I never really wear sneakers, to be honest. I’m a loafers guy, through and through.
Elias: Honestly, never say never. There are some things I’ve worn in the last few years that I would never have seen myself in. And I like wearing things that I wouldn’t have thought I could get away with.
It seems to be a big part of what you do – pushing guys to be braver with what they wear.
Dexter: Absolutely. It’s about confidence, really. It’s about not worrying if a couple of people are going to make comments about what you’re wearing, if you’re comfortable in it.
Shaquille: And it’s about masculinity, too. With PAQ, I hope we show people that enjoying clothes and being bolder in what you wear doesn’t make you less masculine. And just wearing baggy trackpants every day doesn’t make you more of a man.
Elias: Shaq gets manicures, actually.
Shaquille: Yes! I’m not embarrassed by that. Why shouldn’t we want to look good?
So where do you hope PAQ will be in ten year’s time?
Elias: Honestly, I have no idea.
Danny: I’d be happy if we’re still doing what we’re doing now. It’s been such a crazy experience. We’ve gotten to travel around the world, and meet the most incredible people.
Shaquille: I think we’d all like to be able to explore our own projects, eventually. But there’s no reason why that couldn’t be part of PAQ.
Dexter: Yeah, PAQ isn’t just the Youtube channel or the Instagram page. It could be anything. I think that’s pretty exciting.
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