Inside the Italian Brand That’s Making Luxurious Cali Skate Wear

Palm Angels, the Milan-based men’s brand, is gaining buzz for its luxurious takes on California skater wear.

Since launching the label for fall ’15, founder and designer Francesco Ragazzi — who also serves as the artistic director for French sportswear brand Moncler — has grown his self-described “side project” into a full-fledged and expanding business.

The collection initially was sparked in 2014 after Ragazzi launched a photography book on California skaters in Venice Beach and Manhattan Beach, titled “Palm Angels.”

Francesco Ragazzi
Francesco Ragazzi
CREDIT: Courtesy of brand.

“I love looking at a culture that I don’t know and analyzing it from the outside,” said Ragazzi. “In Italy, there isn’t a strong skateboarding culture. The first time I was around it was in Venice Beach.”

His spring ’17 collection continues this idea of cool skater kids. The ready-to-wear features pieces such as camo-print suits and tie-dyed jeans, while shoes include low-top deck sneakers and pool slides.

“My spring inspiration started with Jimi Hendrix and the new music festivals,” said Ragazzi. “I started imagining the crowd going to festivals like Coachella and Glastonbury.”

Palm Angels spring 2017
Palm Angels spring ’17 collection.
CREDIT: REX Shutterstock.

(One of the brand’s more identifiable signifiers is its marijuana-leaf motif, which is applied as prints onto shoes or used as logos on clothes.)

Spring footwear prices for Palm Angels range from $200 to $500, and the brand is carried in roughly 200 retailers, including Saks Fifth Avenue, Lane Crawford, Colette, Dover Street Market and Ssense.

Though the label is unisex, Ragazzi hopes to branch out as the label evolves. “Every piece from the men’s collection, a woman could buy,” he said, “but I’m looking to launch a few pieces just for women.”

Ragazzi also intends to further expand the footwear offering beyond sneakers, but he plans to pursue a smart and steady growth plan. “I don’t want to grow too soon and too fast,” he said. “I want to focus on the best stores for my brands and take my time.”

Palm Angels spring 2017
Palm Angels spring ’17 sneaker.
CREDIT: Courtesy of brand.
Palm Angels spring 2017
Palm Angels spring ’17 sneaker.
CREDIT: Courtesy of brand.

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