Let’s face it. Fashion collaborations have become a bit watered down in recent years. What once felt like a unique opportunity for two brands to merge their worlds into something special has largely boiled down to companies deciding which logo being placed next to theirs will generate the most dollars. But not every collaboration falls into that category. That’s especially true for anything Pharrell decides to put his name on.
“Collaboration is always an opportunity to learn something else,” he tells Complex. “It’s not worth doing if it’s not on the precipice of burning everything around it.”
This is the mindset that allows Pharrell to execute his projects at such a high level. Being revered as one of the most respected creators of the 21st century, he’s dabbled in many projects including producing an ongoing series of footwear and apparel with Adidas since 2014, and pairing his Billionaire Boys Club brand with designers like Vandy. He even had the opportunity to design a capsule with Chanel back in 2019. For his latest collaborative partnership, Pharrell was one of the seven designers tapped by Moncler to create his interpretation of the brand’s signature Maya puffer jacket, dubbed the Maya 70, to help celebrate its 70th anniversary. He joins an esteemed list of collaborators that includes Palm Angels, Fragment, Rick Owens, Giambattista Valli, Pierpaolo Piccioli, and Thom Browne.
The Moncler Maya 70 by Pharrell Williams is the final launch in the seven-part series. It sets itself apart with a rubberized black body covered with tonal Moncler logos. It will release at Moncler stores on Nov. 26 for $10,645, but the collaboration wasn’t strictly about creating a product to sell on a rack. Pharrell also handpicked who would model the limited design. According to him, Tobe Nwigwe embodies the resiliency he aimed to represent with the rubber Maya 70.
“I feel like he’s just a trailblazer in terms of doing things that make sense for him and his archetype,” says Pharrell. “He has a super strong sound. I just felt like him with that black rubber winter jacket, the resilience in everything that he does and the resilience that the concept represented, just was a natural fit.”
This isn’t Pharrell’s first time working with Moncler. They initially partnered back in 2010 to release a down jacket and reversible vest covered in a print by Japanese artist Keita Sugiura that were both constructed of recyclable Bionic yarn. In 2013, they linked up once again to release a trio of eyewear models and new colorways of the pieces featured in his debut project. Some of the vests still fetch thousands of dollars on marketplaces like Grailed. Those past projects made him eager to add a new chapter to the partnership.
“It was just an amazing vibe, a brand just being so open to collaborations at a time when those types of collaborations were few and far between,” Pharrell says. “Now, it happens every day, but they really jumped out there and it was an eye opener to the industry. For things to come full circle and for them to want me to come and do something else was just an honor.”
We got a chance to chop it up with Pharrell about his latest project, his approach to collaborations, the 20th anniversary of his brand Billionaire Boys Club, and more. Check out the full conversation below.