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Image from FRIENDSWITHYOU ‘Happy Virus’ Projectvia

The art duo infecting fashion with their ‘Happy Virus’

Meet FRIENDSWITHYOU, LA-based art collective introducing their playful symbolism to Moncler’s Japan flagship

Samuel Borkson and Arturo Sandovall III, otherwise known as FRIENDSWITHYOU, are the LA-based art collective famous for using their own “post pop visual language” to proliferate happiness throughout modern society. This mantra of joy manifests itself via the duo’s most recognisable characters, including a smiling cloud (which now has its own Instagram page) and a penguin named Malfi who can be seen twerking in the pair’s psychedelic Happy Virus animation video. Since the inception of FRIENDSWITHYOU in 2002, Borkson and Sandovall have worked in media ranging from paint and light installation to sculpture. Their latest project sees them turn their hand to fashion, collaborating with luxury sportswear brand Moncler to launch a capsule collection that coincides with the grand opening of the label’s new Japan flagship store. 

What is fashion for you?

FRIENDSWITHYOU: Our personal style is very simple but through our eyes we love to see colour and experimentation; play and adventure in fashion. It’s a personal identity and for us to approach fashion in a conceptual way is a very interesting project for us. We created archetypes that we have used through our practice and included them in this collection so each person can embody what they feel the symbol represents to them. We love to use play and interactivity in our work and this is the perfect way to play with people. 

What do you think of fashion today? Is there still room for collaboration between artists and fashion houses?

FRIENDSWITHYOU: Yes, now more than ever we should involve art in everything from fashion, to science, to cultural engineering. Our practice crosses many borders and gives us the freedom to reach many people and hopefully affect the world in a larger way through each doorway.

How did the collaboration with Moncler begin? What do you think about the brand?

FRIENDSWITHYOU: The brand is so nice! Our initial connection was Pharrell who invited us to the launch of a collaboration he had done with the brand a year ago. We had an instant affinity with the project and were so happy when Moncler asked us to collaborate. We love the cleanliness of the brand; the mix of that and the playful nature of our work is really exciting. 

What is the main concept behind this collaboration with Moncler?

FRIENDSWITHYOU: The main concept is called Happy Virus. It’s a longstanding mission of ours to infect culture with love and caring ideas through playful and powerful symbols. Each symbol represents archetypical ideas that have always existed around us and inside of us. Our goal is to embed every project we take on with a deeper meaning, so by giving these pieces a life with the ideas infused into the clothing allows it to touch people as they incorporate that into their world.