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Pro Skater and Hélas Founder Lucas Puig Is Cool with Your Asia-Based Forgeries
French street wear brand Hélas does caps and other fashionable skater accoutrements, ideal for whatever you've got going on: landing sick Pop Shuvits in the school parking lot, tearing ass running from mall security, or even just chillax at a sweet, low-key get-together bashing on mad burritos with the fam. Founded by Stephen Khou, Clement Brunel and Lucas Puig, they've gotten to the point where they're collab'ing with another sick brand: Adidas. Puig is in Shanghai to promote the new tennis-tastic look, as well as preside over the third edition of the Skate Copa Court series down in Found 158 this Saturday. SmSh sat down in a hotel room with the French skating icon to talk illegal usage of the Adidas logo, unhinged skate obstacles, fake markets, and Shanghai's wonderful marble ledges. So much marble.


SmSh: So for anyone who didn't play EA Games' 2008 Skate It -- because you are in fact a playable character in that can -- can you introduce yourself?

Lucas Puig: My name is Lucas Puig. I'm from France, I've been skating for 20 years and I've been pro for 15. We're here in Shanghai for the Adidas Skate Copa and the Hélas x Adidas Launch Party.

SmSh: Ever get sick of skating?

LP: I'm not tired, man, I wish I could skate all my life.

SmSh: Get much skating done in Shanghai recently?

LP:: Not last time, last time [about 6-7 months ago] I went on vacation. I came to visit [Hélas co-founder] Stephen [Khou] so we had time to not skate, because every time I came here, I was just skating all day. And we celebrated the new years, too. Karaoke.

SmSh: Nice. Traditional. Let's talk about the Copa, we heard you designed an obstacle?

LP:: I want to skate something that I've never skated before, so after a couple of days, I found some funny shit to do, and the designer helped on it. He made a drawing and he came with some other ideas, it ended up with something funny. I wanted to do something mellow, not like a fucking megaramp.

SmSh: Sounds cool. So what's the deal with your Adidas collaboration. Hélas' already pretty well-known in the skate scene, what's Adidas bringing to the table?

LP:: What's Adidas bringing to the table? They're bringing to the table that they want to do a collab, and after that we're like "all right, you've got a good history with tennis, we love tennis, let's do that." It makes so much sense, they've been at the top of the tennis game for so long. And football too, but that's too obvious, everyone does football.

SmSh: So how was it working with the big boys?

LP:: We had our ideas, and for sure it's a big company so they had a bunch of copyright stuff you can't fuck with, the Trefoil, so we talk to the designers and they told us what we can do and what we can't do. So with that, we tried to do our best to give this collab like a vintage Adidas look.

SmSh: So you didn't just turn the [Hélas] umbrella into an upside down Adidas logo?

LP:: Yeah, we thought about it, they said no. "Think more."

SmSh: Ouch. Too obvious?

LP: Yeah, but it was made for it. We had some banging logos and even they were like "Oh man, that's good, but it's the Trefoil, you can't fuck with it."

SmSh: What're your plans for the brand in China?

LP:: It's to grow skateboarding. There's not that many skateboards out there. I'm talking about Shanghai because I come here most of the time. Here're the best spots, but there's just a couple skaters. It needs to be more popular so people can have fun in the streets and use the beautiful marble ledges.

SmSh: Best place to skate in the city?

Lucas Puig: I'd say Love Park but now it's gone, maybe... naw, that's not that good. There are so many marble ledges, man, I can't just think of one spot.

SmSh: Just a blur of marble ledges? Lots of marble ledges here.

LP: Lot of marble here, man. Downtown Shanghai's just one marble spot, you just have to cruise around. I just went around the corner, was looking for a coffee, I was like, "there's a spot, there's a bump, there's a rail." It's pretty crazy. But I have to be careful you know, can't go by myself in case I get hurt. I hurt my knee two times so I have to take it easy. I was already skating easy, not doing big stuff, I'm trying to be more mature and not like... like say if I'm really tired, I'm not going to skate, before I'd skate until I kicked my legs out under me.

SmSh: Worst most awful place in the city to skate?

LP: Don't really have bad memories for skate spots here. Sometimes when we're skating a spot close to the scooters and roads, that's the worst, because people don't care. When you skate and you're in the middle of this, it's fucked up, some young dude's going to push a grandmother over, that's the thing that gets me real angry.

SmSh: Who's the worst bailout you've ever seen?

LP: In skateboarding? Charles Collet. He's the best. I've spent 10 years touring with him, like with the Cliche Gypsea Tour, and he's the one that slams the best. You think he's dying every time. He's so thin, and he's like, "yeah man, I'm going to try this rail," and you're like "yeah you got this," and first try he's like boom, balls on the rail, head's on the ground. And he still ends up doing it because he's an animal, he's not scared.

SmSh: Okay, the most important question on here; it's terrace weather. The kids want to dress down a bit. As a bit of a shorts-wearing fashion icon, you have any tips for getting shorts past the bouncers in Shanghai?

LP: : You need to know Stephen. Just tell everyone to call Stephen, he knows every bouncer. Or y'know, just leave a couple hundred euros hanging out the top of your shorts, I guess.

SmSh: All right, we're out of questions, anything you want to ask us?

LP: Why'd they close the fake markets man? What the fuck? I used to come to Shanghai every year just for the fake market, I wouldn't even buy anything, I'd just walk around be like "this is paradise." Shanghai was like Morocco to me, I didn't even want anything. They start super high and you go super low, you still end up with it being super expensive for what it is, but you think you made a good deal, they made money, everyone feels good.

SmSh: Everyone's on Taobao now, man. Seen any of your stuff in the fake market?

LP:: I think someone sent us a fake Hélas hat from Thailand, we were like "Yeah, we'll take it!"

SmSh: You know you've made it if people are ripping your stuff off?

LP: Yeah, I was like, continue, do more, we need to get into Asia but we can't afford to produce enough for everyone so yeah sure. So long as it stays in Asia, fuck it.

SmSh: Thought of moving to Vietnam? I hear that's where textiles is going.

LP: It's always hard to start from the bottom, to be good with the factories and stuff like this. We're not a big company. So we're starting to be good with some factories here in China, we're not thinking of moving now. It takes time, in the beginning we definitely had the worst, some mistakes on the tags and stuff.

SmSh: What, like spelled "Hélas" with two "Ls" or something?

LP: "One size fist most." 3,000 hats.

SmSh: One size fist most indeed. So, here for six days, got plans?

LP: Got that launch party, got the Copa, then maybe get out and some street skating for sure. Gotta use that marble, man.


You can catch Lucas and crew doing a signing at the Adidas Original Store on Nanjing Xi Lu this evening from 7pm-8pm.
That's your chance to get Stephen's number.


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