James Franco Talks Bad Bunny Making His Gritty-Punk Paly Apparel Brand Go Viral and Drawing Dead Celebrities on Shoes at Launch Party

James Franco and his design partner Kyle Lindgren hosted an exclusive launch party to celebrate their Paly apparel brand in Los Angeles last night. The event was hosted by Luka Sabbat and Duke Nicholson in an apt location, the Fairfax district—LA’s sneaker-streetwear culture hub.

Inspired by Hollywood’s gritty past, Paly launched in 2020 and was brought to life from Franco’s and Lindgren’s conversations about their love for Hollywood history. The streetwear-inspired clothing line is named after Franco’s love for his hometown of Palo Alto, Calif.

James Franco, Kyle Lindgren, Paly Apparel Launch Party, Los Angeles
(L-R) James Franco and Kyle Lindgren at the Paly Apparel launch party on April 12, 2023 held at No Name in Los Angeles.
CREDIT: Sydney Jackson/BFA.com
Luka Sabbat, Duke Nicholson, James Franco, Kyle Lindgren, Paly Apparel Launch Party
(L-R) Luka Sabbat, Duke Nicholson, James Franco and Kyle Lindgren at the Paly apparel launch party on April 12, 2023 at No Name in Los Angeles.
CREDIT: Sydney Jackson/BFA.com

Taking inspiration from punk clothing, Paly includes a collection of distressed shirts, sweatshirts, and hand-knitted sweaters. Each piece explores some of the tragedies, conspiracies, and heroes of Tinseltown. Paly’s items feature several recognizable figures like  James Dean and Jayne Mansfield as well as, producer Don Simpson and Larry Fortensky, the construction worker who became the seventh and last husband of Elizabeth Taylor.

In an exclusive interview with FN, Franco and Lindgren reflected on their brand’s journey, Hollywood conspiracy theories that appear within the Paly’s latest collection and  imagining what a sneaker release would look like.

Q: Paly reflects the two of you as observers in the Hollywood scene, but it is also a part of your own personal experiences. Share more about that.

Kyle Lindgren: “For me, I guess I am an outsider and that I moved here from Colorado about six years ago. So, graphically, I’m always inspired by all the signage, and the grittiness when I’m driving through LA—it’s just inspiration overload at times. I kind of lean on that—just the gritty essence of Los Angeles. And then I usually lean on [James Franco] for more of Hollywood inspiration, the weird niche stories and the unsung heroes in Hollywood—he’s more of a historian.”

James Franco: “I’ve been working in Hollywood for 25 years. I went to art school, and a lot of my favorite artists were like, doing work about movies, and Hollywood, they were all artists—sort of, working in Hollywood. So like, Paul McCarthy, or like Douglas Gordon, I collaborated with them. And I guess I always thought like, it would be cool through the art; it was a way to sort of step to the side and kind of look back on the other side of my life and have this new sort of way in. And then Kyle comes from street fashion. We’ve known each other for like five or six years, and then he started wanting to do his own thing. And then over time, it kind of emerged, like, oh, we can do the clothes. And then the drawings and the Hollywood theme sort of came together, there was just kind of like a new canvas, or something that I was really interested in for a long time.”

Q: What’s the most meaningful piece of art seen in the collection?

Franco: “There is this white sweatshirt, and it has all these drawings on it, and that’s sort of like the key piece of the first line. And it’s sort of emblematic of the way we work—I just draw every day. And now we scan them, but we have, I don’t know, six to 8,000 drawings. And then I have my editor here (Kyle). And he goes through and he picks them and then he’s the master of materials. He’ll design the materials and give us a real kind of vintage look. And then put the images together.”

Paly Apparel Launch Party, The Good Time Are Over Crewneck, Bungalow 2 Hooded Sweatshirt
The Good Times Are Over Crewneck and Bungalow 2 Hooded Sweatshirt at the Paly apparel launch party on April 12, 2023 in Los Angeles.
CREDIT: Sydney Jackson/BFA.com

Q: Your mother (Franco’s mother Betsy Franco) said she was proud that she and Bad Bunny were wearing one of your shirts. Was that an organic moment?

Franco: “Yeah, we’ve been really fortunate. We started in one store at H. Lorenzo. Just from that, Bad Bunny and Hit-Boy wore that and he was performing with Nas at Madison Square Garden that it into Nas’ music video—just from that one shirt in H.Lorenzo. It’s already doing pretty well.”

Death Cult Hat, Paly Apparel Launch Party, Streetwear Brand, Los Angeles
The Death Cult hat at the Paly apparel launch party on April 12, 2023 in Los Angeles.
CREDIT: Sydney Jackson/BFA.com

Q: There are some conspiracy theory themes in the collection’s artwork. Which ones do you guys believe?

Franco: “The thing about mysteries or conspiracies or legends, when it comes to art, it doesn’t have to be real. It becomes this whole other thing. It becomes the myth of everything. So, it’s not about going crazy on conspiracies, it’s more about evoking all the old spirits and even if some of its fuzzy and you don’t know if it’s real or not, it doesn’t really matter. It’s about just the aura.”

Q: There might be plants to expand into accessories. I saw (Kyle) in shoes that featured drawings, is that a sign of what’s to come?

Franco: “It is a one-off birthday present for him for me, But maybe for the future.”

Kyle Lindgren: “It’s kind of random, I think it says like ‘Dennis Hopper’ and there’s weird film references, like ‘Dennis Hopper lives.”

The inaugural collection, “Hollywood is Hell,” is now available for purchase at palyhollywood.com. The full line along with special store exclusives are available at: H. Lorenzo – Sunset Plaza, The Webster – LA/South Beach/NY, and Patron of the New – Miami.

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