The second floor of the shop (if you don’t know which one by now, please unfollow me on all social media platforms) truly allowed me to be up close and personal with not only outstanding New York locals, but also a plethora of fascinating individuals from all over the globe. Marseille’s very own Alexandre Meyrand is one of them.
Alexandre,35, was introduced to me about six years ago by our mutual friend Alex on an extremely slow day at work. Usually when there isn’t much traction on BAPE’s main floor, my supporters, frequent shoppers, and many of today’s brightest stars would all scurry upstairs, find a comfy spot on the infamous ape head camo couch just to speak with me for hours on end without any major interruption. When they overstayed, though, I was forced to politely kick them out.
Meyrand and I, on the other hand, didn’t converse much when we initially met—but I easily sensed his genuine nature so we kept in touch via social media. Believe it or not, we never really had a proper conversation until now!
Check out the transcript of our very first full length dialogue where we spoke about his younger days in France, fashion, booming business, and hotspots in Marseille.
FRENDY: What’s good, Alexandre? Let’s get it poppin’!
ALEXANDRE: Yo, bro! I am good. It’s the end of the day here, but it was a great weekend in our sunny city.
FRENDY: I know there’s a huge time difference between us. I really appreciate you for staying up late to chop it up.
ALEXANDRE: It’s a pleasure to be featured here, my man.
FRENDY: I’m humbled, thank you. Before we get deep into our conversation, I must ask: is there a friendly competition between Paris and Marseille?
ALEXANDRE: I don’t know if there is a friendly competition, maybe if you are talking about soccer *Laughs*. But I love Paris—it’s one of the best places in the world because of its architecture and history. Marseille is also one of the best places I have ever lived.
FRENDY: Oh yeah, that’s right. The two cities do have a great soccer team. I’m not familiar with their players, but I know the superstars for each squad *Laughs*. Marseille is known for its beautiful port and scenery, yet it is stated to be a victim of bad reputation...as far as violence. Is that true?
ALEXANDRE: Marseille is a big city so things happen, but violence is everywhere. I think that the media only show what they want to so that gives us a bad reputation. And that’s wrong. Things happen in every big city and violence can be anywhere. What’s totally true is that Marseille is one of the best destinations in the world. [There are] so many cultures here. So many good vibes.
FRENDY: How was it like growing up in the second largest city in France?
ALEXANDRE: *Laughs* The funny thing is that I didn't grow up in Marseille. I was born in St. Etienne (a city close to Lyon), and I moved to the South of France in 2005. I spent my first years in Aix en Provence (25 minutes from Marseille), and I’ve been living in Marseille for the past five years.
FRENDY: What was the reason you moved from St. Etienne to the South of France?
ALEXANDRE: I used to work in a cool shop called Uptown, but I had the opportunity to move to the South of France for the opening of a big store called Corezone in Aix en Provence. My ex-girlfriend was also living there...so that was an easy decision for me.
FRENDY: Women always make matters easier *Laughs*. How old were you when you moved to work at Uptown? What was your position there?
ALEXANDRE: I was still young and fresh *Laughs*. I was only 21-years-old when I moved. I was just a seller at Uptown, and had the same position for the first years I spent at Corezone. When I moved to Marseille I became Store Manager and Buyer also (they had four stores).
FRENDY: You started in the retail game pretty early. When did your love for fashion come about? Was it through music or your own self-expression?
ALEXANDRE: I always loved fashion and I was inspired by so many things. Music is very important for me (you are right), I’ve been listening to a bunch of cool bands since my childhood (I’d like to thank my father for this). Art, tattoos are also things that feed my brain. I’ve always wanted to have my own style.
FRENDY: Which bands captivated you growing up?
ALEXANDRE: Maybe the bands I have seen perform live first. My father took me to a Marillion show at Le Zenith in Paris when I was 8 years old—when you are a kid in that big crowd everything seems so crazy! It’s still one of my best memories. I have also seen The Cure. I love their music, but their aesthetic is even crazier! The charisma of Robert Smith and all the fans that dressed like him in black makeup. You between fear and the energy that they give you!
FRENDY: Your senses were on overload due to all of the vibrant energy. Who are your favorite brands currently? Does Hip Hop influence your lifestyle as well?
ALEXANDRE: I have been listening to a lot of Rock, but I listen to a lot of Hip Hop too. Yes, Hip Hop has a big influence! Most of the sounds we play at my shop now is Hip Hop. I have so many favorite Rock bands including: Marillion, Tears for Fears, Genesis, The Cure, Metallica. I grew up listening to Blink 182 (Travis Barker was one of my biggest inspiration as a teenager), NFG, Underoath, Taking Back Sunday, GC. As far as Hip Hop : Wu tang Clan, Future, Shyheim, Mobb Deep, Kanye, Jay Z, Kid Cudi, Travis Scott , Drake.
FRENDY: Man, I’m not going to lie, Blink 182 was one of my favorite bands growing up as well. So you are pretty flexible when it comes to your sonic indulgences.
ALEXANDRE: Yeah, I can’t only listen to Rock. I need motivation so I need to listen to different genres. Depends on the mood I am in when I wake up, but I never listen the same thing in the morning and end of the day.
FRENDY: How’s the streetwear scene in Marseille looking like?
ALEXANDRE: The streetwear scene is pretty sick these days. You see a lot of people with great style in Marseille now. The scene has changed a lot, maybe because of Internet, but Marseille was always into streetwear. We have big scenes here: skate, graffiti in the whole city. A lot of budding musicians too. Marseille = Street!
FRENDY: You said the scene changed a lot before the internet. How was it like before?
ALEXANDRE: Yes, because if you wanted to have your own style, it was only easy if you were able to travel and bring back cool stuff. Most of the people were dressing the same, but the business of fashion has changed and it’s easier to find more brands to dress like your “icons.” People are more inspired in Marseille now with the internet because they have access to so many things.
FRENDY: What are your favorite brands currently?
ALEXANDRE: My favorite brands actually are Converse (only the 70s collection), the chuck taylor is a classic sneaker and I love its silhouette. Sacai is a very interesting brand, and I love the work that Dr. Woo did on the last collection. Needles, FDMTL and Kapital are also brands I love, they are part of the whole Japanese wave. I still love Stussy because it’s real streetwear, and of course I love Goudron *Laughs*. It’s becoming a brand now, not only a store.
FRENDY: Hey, I’m a living person and I’m a brand *Laughs*. Nothing is impossible! Whose style do you admire in the entertainment industry?
ALEXANDRE: Axl Rose, Travis Barker, Pharrell Williams, Scott Campbell, and Nigo.
FRENDY: Is there a particular meaning behind the name of your store, Goudron?
ALEXANDRE: Yes, there is a story behind the name. My brother ILK wanted to give me that name as a gift when I told him my plans to open a store. He said to me he saved that name for years in case he decided to make a brand later or a special project. So I thought a lot about it and I accepted “Goudron,” because I loved the name too—it’s short, easy to say in any language.
Goudron color is dark also, and black means a lot for us. We decided to add ILK in the project too because he is a sick graphic designer and a typographer.
FRENDY: It’s always great to have friends that actually care about our projects. No better feeling in the world than genuine support. Does “Goudroun” mean anything specifically in French?
ALEXANDRE: That’s true, brother. We are three partners and three very good friends. Yes, Goudron is like the asphalt, it’s something you walk on everyday so this is a part of the street. And we represent the streets too by selling these brands.
FRENDY: Perfect name. What was the process of building your own streetwear shop? Was it an extremely difficult one, or did you already have the moving parts to make it happen?
ALEXANDRE: It was not really easy. I stopped working at Corezone because they sold the stores. I had different projects and we talked a lot with Seb (my other partner and one of my best friends) about opening our own store. I had the support of brands and people who knew me [at my old jobs] so we decided to go ahead and find a good location to build a shop of our own.
What we wanted to show to the city of Marseille and also the aesthetic was very important for us, like our floor for example. It was one of the hardest things to do but everybody knows now that it’s us.
FRENDY: Where is Goudron located in Marseille? And what made you choose that particular location?
ALEXANDRE: Goudron is in the city center, not in a main street but close to everything. The thing that we always wanted is to be located at a street corner, that’s why we are here.
FRENDY: Y’all have the whole aesthetic down packed! How long did it take to actually open up the shop?
ALEXANDRE: Let’s say around a year to prepare everything...to rebuild the inside of the store, to work on the name, to create the logo and to start to communicate.
FRENDY: That’s not a bad turnaround time at all. Did you guys cry on its grand opening? *Laughs*
ALEXANDRE: *Laughs* Yes, we had a cool opening and people were lined up for the first day so that gave us big fuckin’ energy! We also did an opening party months after and it was dope! Everything that happened gave us motivation to go harder.
FRENDY: What brands do you sell at the shop? How did you formulate a relationship with them all?
ALEXANDRE: We only sell brands we love and believe in. We are actually working with Neighborhood, Futur, Stone Island Shadow Projects, Harmony Paris, Edwin Japan, Levis Vintage, Converse, Grenson Shoes, Stussy, Asics, New balance (UK and USA stuff), Vans Anaheim, Goudron. I have known most of these brands in the past and some are friends that created their own line. I have good relationships with people because I think that I am true person and an honest guy so this helps people to trust me in the project. It’s important to be right with everybody.
FRENDY: Amen, that’s how I became the brand I am today. Treating people right really goes long way. I’ve been back-stabbed numerous times and it made me lose hope on the human race *Laughs*. But I learned that I played a huge part in my suffering as well—the victim mentality. Now, I’m stronger, smarter, and kinder than ever! One of the reasons why I wanted to have this conversation with you is because I knew you were a good dude since Alex introduced me to you.
ALEXANDRE: Thanks for these words, bro. I remember the first time Alex introduced me to you at the store. He is still one of the best person I met in my whole life.
FRENDY: Yes, such a great guy. Very kind, humble and considerate. How did you guys meet anyway?
ALEXANDRE: I met Alex at a dinner during a trip to NYC in 2013. Kristi, a close friend, introduce me to him and since that day I knew that we must be friends. He’s a very interesting person. We have a lot of things in common, same love for music, passion for tattoos, same love for fashion, and great minds *Laughs*.
FRENDY: Word, and same names *Laughs*. Birds of a feather, flock together! Alex is tattooed from head to toe, so are you..literally! How many do you have?
ALEXANDRE: I can’t tell you how many, but there’s a lot *Laughs*. I started getting tattooed at 19-years-old and I haven’t stopped. I am almost full too.
FRENDY: Do you remember your very first one?
ALEXANDRE: *Laughs* Yes, it’s at the top of my left arm. I had some old school stuff, but I blacked out my arm three years ago and got some cool stuff from [tattooist] Scott Campbell (white ink on black ink).
FRENDY: I skimmed through Scott’s Instagram and realized that he also tatted up Travis Scott’s head. His price must be pretty hefty, but well worth it obviously. When did you first meet him? And what do you like about his tattooing style?
ALEXANDRE: I got my first tattoo from Scott four years ago in NYC. I always loved his work, dollar bills sculptures, he has his own style of tattooing too—Scott’s lines are perfect. I love the atmosphere of his Tattoo studio as well (decorated with skulls, reapers, roses). His scripts are crazy and perfect! I love all the details and aesthetic around his work.
We did a big session the first time when Scott did my whole back (it took about seven hours and thirty minutes), and since then I have been friends with him. He is a very talented and humble person. There is a real connection formed when you get tattooed for hours.
FRENDY: Are you planning on tattooing your face as well?
ALEXANDRE: No, I will never do that. I am not into face tattoos. Even if I have a lot of tattoos, this is another step in your life.
FRENDY: Totally! Like New York, Marseille is a melting pot of different cultures—no wonder why you like traveling here so much. What are some of your other favorite cities to visit?
ALEXANDRE: I love NYC so much, fam. I got so many friends there! I love London also, Los Angeles is so chill too. Barcelona, Milan, Lisbon are also great cities…but there are still so many places I haven’t been.
FRENDY: There are more street food trucks in Marseille than in Paris because, as one chef said: “the kitchen is very strict.” What are some of your favorite spots to eat in Marseille?
ALEXANDRE: We have a lot of good spots in Marseille and so many different kinds of food. Here is a list of my favorites, Coffee spots: La fiancée (best cookies on earth), Deep coffee roaster, Le Café de La Banque (Paris in Marseille). For a drink : Gaspard and Copperbay, Le Petit Bistrot, Le Café de L’abbaye. One of my fave restaurant is OTTO, an Italian restaurant. Always a good vibe there, fresh stuff and the boss Pierre Antoine is a good friend. He puts all his love in this place. Other cool restaurants include: Sepia, La Cantinetta, La Marmarita, Fratelli, Pastis & Olives, Shabu.
FRENDY: Damn, whenever I visit please take me to all those spots! Seems like life is less complicated in Marseille than Paris, all the way down to the simple yet delicious dishes. And people are said to be nicer in the South. Why do you think that is the case?
ALEXANDRE: I will bring you there, my man. Life is less complicated in Marseille because its more relaxing maybe, it’s not the same way of life. I love Paris, but people are more stressed and always in a rush. Plus, it’s harder to get a smile out of them too *Laughs*. But the city has so many beautiful places.
When you live in the South of France, it’s like you are on holidays most of the year.
FRENDY: The Old Port is a major tourist attraction in Marseille. Are there any hidden gems in the city someone like me can check out?
ALEXANDRE: Yes, there are a lot of beautiful things to see here. I will bring you to Le Vallon des Auffes, Notre Dame de La Garde, Les Goudes, and one of the best thing is “Les Calanques” (we might drop a t-shirt soon with them).
FRENDY: Bet! Man, you’re living such a wonderful life in Marseille. You’re well-traveled, have a successful business, great friends, and family. What else are you looking to accomplish in life?
ALEXANDRE: I just want to make Goudron bigger, have more projects with my partners, and also have kids in the near future. I think I will be done after this *Laughs*.