Interview: Pakkard Studio

On Broadway sits the first of its kind; an oblique concept shop, Pakkard Studio. Owned and run by Rick Dove, Pakkard Studio first made its debut just a little over a year ago. Since then, the multidisciplinary venue has fostered a creative epicenter around the diverse cohort of downtown Los Angeles.

“A lot of our intention was to do a multi-brand retail space. That kind of switched gears the first day we actually opened,” Dove said. “I saw what I could do with it in terms of what I saw lacked in the community, just around downtown LA and just in general, and it kind of shifted into a hub where creatives can hang out.”

The space has served a myriad of purposes, from hosting art talks, gallery openings, and performances, all the while fulfilling its original purpose as a retail space.

“Of course people would assume that I would be doing more high end shit, because I’m working in that industry,” Dove said. “I kind of took a few steps back, but I actually took a few steps forward too, and created something that has an essence.”

Pakkard’s title, “an oblique concept shop,” contains all of these purposes within its definition.

“The word ‘oblique’ comes from me thinking about stuff in a different way,” Dove said. “Coming up with the concept style that suits our gallery, and really explores what we can do with it.”

The word oblique, which typically defines a line that is neither parallel not perpendicular, runs in unison with the studio’s purpose; neither one thing nor another. It’s undefined, up in the air, meant for interpretation by its patrons and its creators.

“I wanted a concept shop. I wanted something I was going to change every month,” Dove said. “I wanted it to be a feeling versus just a brand store.”

I really do not believe in any form of capitalism, so a lot of my struggle is finding ways to still fund Pakkard Studio without doing the whole ‘sell, sell, sell’ thing.

In an area like downtown Los Angeles, where brand stores are neither rare nor particularly discrete, Dove’s perception of the space has made Pakkard Studio distinct amongst its predecessors.

“[In the beginning] our perspective was a little crowded, in a sense. We wanted to celebrate our friends,” Dove said. “We were celebrating the inner workings of Pakkard Studio. Since we have this group, since we have these creatives that are among us as a family, now we’re embracing that instead of taking from people I knew in fashion.”

Since they don’t exist on a foundation of profit, Dove has faced challenges accepting the necessities that come with owning a retail space.

“If you think about it as an art project versus a clothing brand that serves to compete with money, a lot of the biggest challenges that I face are pretty much because of my heart,” Dove said. “I’m a socialist and I really do not believe in any form of capitalism, so a lot of my struggle is finding ways to still fund Pakkard Studio without doing the whole ‘sell, sell, sell’ thing.”

Despite this inner struggle, Dove doesn’t find himself being swayed towards a profiteering mindset.

“I think what trumps on is continuing to do creative things, and continuing to be creative,” Dove said. “Afterwards, after it’s all said and done, not being known as the richest person is not that bad.”

Dove didn’t just jump into gallery management on a whim. His success in design and management have grown from a compilation of experiences from his childhood in South Central.

“Growing up as a kid, I was very influenced by gang culture,” Dove said. “Outside of that, I grew up in downtown LA, pretty much going to the California Market Center at seven or eight years old with my mom, helping her with her store. She owned a clothing store and worked in fashion. Having those opposite sides of the fashion market, and the streets, the real streets, define who I am at this point.”

In the years leading up to Pakkard’s debut, Dove freelanced for streetwear companies like HUF. One brand in particular, Pigalle, stood out to him, and served as a basis for the kind of atmosphere he wanted to create within Pakkard Studio.

“The community that was built around Pigalle inspired me,” Dove said. “It inspired Pakkard to develop that community. One thing I noticed about Pigalle is that, although they’re high end fashion, they really connect a lot with the youth culture.”

Dove was impressed by Pigalle’s decision to start a youth basketball team and even purchase a plot of land by their storefront and convert it into a basketball court.

“That community outreach, in that connection they have with the people they surround, that inspired me to open up Pakkard,” Dove said.

Emma DiMaggio

As for his feeling now that the studio has just rounded its first year mark, Dove hasn’t had any epiphanic moment of success.

“A lot of people ask me, ‘How does it feel owning Pakkard? How does it feel running this?’ and to be honest, I say to myself all the time and to other people, literally I could have done this five or six years ago if I had just been thinking.”

His thoughts aren’t towards the landmarks of his past, but rather pointed towards his future.

It kind of pushed me to the edge. To the people that want to do it; do it, or someone else is going to do it. You’re going to be looking like, ‘Damn, I should have done that.’

“When you put so much time and energy into one thing for your whole life, or whatever, the expectations are [the only place] your mind goes,” Dove said.

Despite his focus on prospective goals for the space, he does admit to having favorite moments at the space.

“The first event that we ran, our soft opening, which was pretty much our grand opening, it was covered by Extra Large, which is one of the first streetwear brands ever, on the ranks of Stussy and all of that,” Dove said. “Seeing someone mention us like, damn, the first time.”

Despite their off-the-bat success, Dove doesn’t attribute Pakkard’s accomplishments to luck, but rather initiative in taking the first step to create something worth creating.

“I kept saying, ‘If I keep trying to do it without doing it, it’s not going to work out, so I might as well just do it,’” Dove said. “It kind of pushed me to the edge. To the people that want to do it; do it, or someone else is going to do it. You’re going to be looking like, ‘Damn, I should have done that.’”

As for the future of Pakkard, Dove said that he’d like to continue with his purpose of building a community centered around youth culture in the downtown Los Angeles area.

“For the future I’d expect Pakkard to be doing more community organizer events, like getting the people from downtown LA to be able to appreciate it a little more,” Dove said. “Even just having more connection to the kids, finding a common ground and being able to explore more ways to be able to push a brand forward.”

 

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