POP TRADING COmpany
From stocking their favourite labels to becoming a fully-fledged brand themselves, Pop Trading Co. is one of Amsterdam’s best skate destinations. Founded by Peter Kolks and Ric Van Rest, the hugely successful boutique gained popularity by stocking premium brands such as Norse Projects, before branching out and releasing their own line of apparel in 2016. We spoke to Peter about how the brand started and their plans for the future...
For those who don’t know, please introduce them, in your own words, to Pop Trading Co…
Pop Trading Company is Ric Van Rest, me and our team, trying to do a more considerate version of a skateboard apparel brand. Like a menswear-inspired skate brand; or the other way around. Selfishly, it’s just what we both like as we grow older. Alongside that, we’ve been supporting a pretty massive team of skateboarders over the past few years. We do a lot of events to support the local scene here, from pub quizzes to skate sessions and video premieres.
Where did the name Pop Trading Co come from?
‘Pop’ can be interpreted in multiple ways, but in our case, it references popping your skateboard. If you have a good snap and you can jump high, you have good pop. If you have a fresh new board it has good pop. As we started out 6 or 7 years ago distributing brands like Palace & Polar, we were wholesaling boards, or in other words, Trading in Pop…
What made you move into producing your own clothing?
Both Ric and I had a lot of retail experience and a little in production, but we never thought too much of it back then. We were a distributor, supporting a pretty big team of underdog skateboarders, putting a bunch of clips and images out. We just saw it as a hobby, doing what we liked, showcasing skateboarding in a way we thought was interesting.
When Palace decided to pull back their distribution of apparel, my dad, who is also our book-keeper, suggested we start our own brand since we had everything in place.
At that time, I was also working for an artist from Amsterdam called Parra; he told me he really liked what we were doing and we should do our own brand, so he linked us with his factories. AW16 was our first season and somehow it got picked up by some really good stores.
How do you think the European skate scene differs from the US?
It’s almost two different worlds. Back in the day, Europe really tried to copy West Coast skateboarding. European skateboarders were usually not taken too seriously in the US, but now it’s almost the other way around. There are obviously brands like Polar and Palace that have made a major impact in the US and on skateboarding in general, which changed the perception of Europe over the past 5 years.
It’s good, it feels more genuine and it shows you don’t have to be based in LA to run a skateboard company.
What are your thoughts on the London scene?
I love London, it’s always been a big inspiration. We’ve been there a bunch over the past few years dealing with Palace and now with our own brand. London always had its own style, but it seems to have amplified a lot more over the past few years. It’s totally different from Amsterdam, but that’s what I like about it.
"With skateboarding becoming more and more popular as a lifestyle rather than a sport, it’s sometimes hard to see what certain brands come up with."
Is there anything that angers you about the skate industry?
Drip skaters. It’s just the merge of Instagram, skateboarding and hype culture, but then based around concrete skateparks in Shitsville, AZ. It’s embarrassing and to me it embodies a generation of soulless followers thinking they can buy style and originality. Sorry for the hate, but maybe I’m getting too old to relate.
Working both behind the scenes and on the ‘street’ level, do you think there is a common misconception about skate/streetwear amongst brands?
I reckon skateboarding is very specific because when you have been skating for as long as we have, you form a pretty specific opinion. Plus, the scene has a lot of weird unwritten rules, haha. There are many things that can be seen as ‘wrong’ and ‘right’. With skateboarding becoming more and more popular as a lifestyle rather than a sport, it’s sometimes hard to see what certain brands come up with. Saying that, it’s up to the consumer to see what is real and what is not. We just have a good laugh about it.
What the strangest thing you’ve ever seen in the store?
You should ask the boys this, haha. I’m only in the store 2 or 3 times a month, but with a location in the middle of the Red-Light District, there’s a daily stream of weirdo’s, drunks and bums coming through our street. The store’s WhatsApp group has seen some funny clips though…
The Miffy collab dropped recently, how did that come about?
Being Dutch you naturally grow up with the Miffy character. When you’re a little kid you have the toys, you flick through the imagery-heavy books by Dick Bruna, or maybe even had a Miffy bike.
It’s funny to know that Dick Bruna didn’t see himself as a children’s book author, or an illustrator, he saw himself more as a graphic designer, which is something we found interesting looking at this collaboration with Mercis, the company that licenses Dick Bruna’s work.
How did the collaboration with UNITED ARROWS come about?
It’s actually a collaboration with Beauty & Youth, which is part of United Arrows, where Pop is stocked. They are a very important customer for us in Japan, so sometimes they ask us if we can make them something special for them, which is always cool to do - a Japanese exclusive. Makes you feel special innit?
Who would be your dream collaboration and why?
Do you have any specific inspirations when it comes to design?
Skateboarding. Growing up in the early/mid-90s and what came out at that time, from magazines to videos to personal experiences. A lot of those references are worked in our fittings, materials, graphics etc.
If you had to spend a week doing something that wasn’t Pop related what would it be and why?
Work at Cafetaria Vuurens, it’s our favourite snack bar.
What would you say is one of your biggest accomplishments, within Pop or otherwise?
Maintaining true to ourselves and the people around us.
And your biggest regret and why?
No regrets yet...
Do you have any bad habits that you’d like to drop?
What was the last thing you saw or heard that left you feeling super inspired?
Jameszoo’s new album Melkweg.
"Skateboarders are big haters, so it’s never really good enough if it’s on a big platform."
What’s your favourite skate video ever and why?
Toy Machine’s Welcome to Hell, Real Non-Fiction, Girl’s Mouse, or FTC’s Penal Code - It’s all just nostalgia, and all mainly focused on West Coast US skateboarding, haha.
Do you think there’s ever been an accurate representation of skate culture on the big screen?
Maybe with Kids? Mid90s was pretty cool from an accuracy side, maybe not the best storyline, but you can geek on some old apparel. Skateboarders are big haters, so it’s never really good enough if it’s on a big platform. The latest Palace LA commercial was bangin’ though, I think I watched that like 5 times.
What next for Pop Trading Co...
We’re ramping up the tempo, monthly drops with a lot of goodness.