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What started as a personal project to be freer and more creative has ended up as a triple platform where an agency, a magazine, and a clothing brand coexist. Pressure Paris is unique, and so is his founder, Théodoros Gennitsakis. Half-Greek and half-French, he’s grown up feeling from the Mediterranean, that rich area where different cultures and civilisations have coexisted for centuries.

Nevertheless, his own origins, those of his friends, and the current political and social unbalance between the countries’ exposure in media (Théodoros rightly believes that you don’t have the same opportunities to thrive in the international music industry, for example, if you come from an underexposed country) has put his focus on highlighting the emerging talent from countries like Morocco. “Pressure is a brand for people, the message is more important than the product”, he tells us in this interview. We speak with him about managing a triple business, the trap scene in the Mediterranean countries, and how to fight injustice through creativity.

Théodoros, you’re half Greek and half French. But I’m not sure if that’s only because of your parents’ birthplaces or because you grew up between the two countries. Tell us more about your upbringing and how this feeling of being from two different places has affected you on a personal and a professional level.
I was born and grew up in Paris but my parents are Greek – they are immigrants from the 1980s. So I grew up the Greek way inside and the French outside. I’m very connected to Greece, ever since I was a child, and especially to Athens these last years. This affects me in my everyday life: I’m very sociable and simple but also very professional and organised. I was the French guy in Greece and the Greek guy in France. So I’m kind of a bastard (laughs).
It was complicated before because I never felt like I was in my place, but with time and experience, I can say that I have developed more skills to deal with people. It’s like sun versus rain: I can deal with everything, I adapt very easily. And with Pressure, I wanted to make something that people would understand – it’s a very personal story.
If I get it right, Pressure Paris is a magazine, an agency, and a fashion brand – all at once. But how did it all start? What are its origins, and how has it expanded to the multidisciplinary platform it is now?
I started as an agency because it’s where I was coming from – I was working for big companies and dealing with fashion and luxury brands. Then, I decided to open my own agency because I wanted to be freer and more creative. After two years, I decided to make something else to promote the agency, so I created a book of editorials with some friends (photographers, stylists, and models). It was more to show to our clients what we could do for them, but at the time, Colette was still open and wanted to sell it.
Then, people started to contact us for collaborations, which made me happy in a way because I love to meet people all the time, so I decided to continue and keep the magazine running. After all this, I did a t-shirt to promote the magazine. It was very simple, with the Pressure logotype. Then, in January 2015, the terrorist attacks happened in Paris. Because of that, my ex-girlfriend and some Arab friends felt a lot of pressure because of their origins. To sort of support them, I made the same t-shirt in Arabic saying ‘Pressure’. I gave some to models I was working with at the time, and then all this happened.
You define Pressure clothing as a “pioneering brand in Mediterranean urban culture”. Could you elaborate more on this, and could you also tell us why is the ‘mare nostrum’ so important to you?
When I started the brand, I focused on my origins and those of my friends. Most of them come from Mediterranean countries, so it’s more like an homage. I decided to push the brand in that direction/way because it’s a story I can tell as I’ve lived with this vibe since I was born. I didn’t want to tell a story I’m not part of just because it’s considered cool or fashion. Four years ago, no one was talking about the mare nostrum.
I started to mix Mediterranean cultures on my clothes, like Arabic types with Greek sculptures. It was very strange for some Greek people at first, but they liked it because they started to follow the brand. There are some countries now that are overexposed, like Greece or Morocco, and I’m happy to take part in this. Pressure is a brand for people, the message is more important than the product.

One of your latest projects, Invest in People, made in collaboration with the collective Naar, aimed at celebrating the Mediterranean urban culture as well as promoting equal opportunities for singers/creatives in the Mediterranean (especially, the countries often misrepresented: those in North Africa and the Middle East). Was there a specific event/reason that triggered your will to do a more activist-driven project?
It was just an evident collaboration to continue the message I want to tell. Naar is a collective like us, and we share in a way the same vibe. This project was interesting because bringing Moroccan artists to Paris is very complicated due to visa problems, and also because Kareem is the first black Greek rapper – it was an even better story for people. There is a very exciting trap scene in the Mediterranean countries, but they are underexposed because of mass media. For us, it was an opportunity to show this scene to French people, and we will continue to make this kind of projects in the future.
The event took place in November and mainly highlighted the new musical genre/trend of trap. You mention several singers from different countries, like Shayfeen from Morocco, Yung Beef from Spain, or Kareem Kalokoh from Greece. How do you feel all these singers are connected beyond their genre? And why do you feel connecting with these singers and their audiences is important to Pressure Paris?
Everything around the sea interests me. I believe that the only thing connecting all of them and me is the sun over the sea, but it’s enough, it’s already a strong thing to share. The sun affects your mood greatly, and we have the same. That’s it.
Taking into account that music is so important to you, could you tell us what’s been playing on your Spotify lately?
I’ve been listening to a lot of African music for a long time, like this Nigerian vibe that is now very exposed. I love French rap, Atlanta trap, and reggaetón. And I also have my classics, like Greek or French old music.

When thinking of the Mediterranean, I believe many people mainly think of the ones in Europe (Spain, France, Italy, Greece, Croatia, etc.). But there are many more that, historically, have been key players in trading goods and exchanging cultures – Morocco, Egypt, Turkey, Israel, Lebanon, etc. Do you expect to change, even if just a little, people’s perception on the Mediterranean countries and culture? Trying to make it more ‘balanced’, in a way?
Yes, you’re right, people think of the Mediterranean through these more exposed countries, so my next step is to make the others known better. I think I already did something like this when mixing Greek and Arabic imagery, but I will continue to do so. It’s a lot of work. There are also countries like Bosnia and Herzegovina or Albania, which are mostly Muslim, and this interests me as well.
Rather than countries, I would love to mix religions more. It’s very political in a way but that’s why Pressure exists, actually. Like I said before, Pressure is the message before the product. In Greece, Albanians are like the Arabs in France or the Turkish in Germany; different cultures, different religions but the same location. The only thing that connects us is the sea. Also, people from other countries think that ours are only alive during the summer, they link them to the sun, but there’s winter too. So I’ll work more on this too.
In addition to Pressure Paris, you’ve also co-founded La Paix, which is described as a “laboratory”. Could you tell us more about it? What is it that you do exactly, and how’s it going so far?
I share this space in Paris with a friend. It’s a secret place in a garage named La Paix at Rue de La Paix (near the Place Vendôme). We do events like exhibitions, dinners, shows, parties, etc. It’s very secret but it helps me to connect with more people. Actually, the project is about making connections and also to give people a chance to express themselves. Nothing is commercial here: nothing’s about money, there are no opening hours, and we don’t have guidelines for the installations. It’s just a space where people can create their own story. You should check our Instagram @lapaixparis to understand what I mean. 
What are your plans for the upcoming months? More collaborations, more music, more…?
I’m working on the next collection. I want to make it bigger with a wider range of products; I will develop more pieces to create total looks. I also have some collabs but I’m still working on them, so I’d rather not talk about them until they’re done. I also plan on going more to Athens to work with my friends there. But most of my time, I’ll spend it working for clients in my agency.

Arnau Salvadó
Ilyes Griyeb

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