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Courtesy of adidas

Pharrell on his new adidas Samba and taking it back to the start

During his Something in the Water festival, the musician and designer spoke to Dazed about his new collection with the German sportswear giant

“If I snap my fingers right now and gave you all of this how would you feel?” Pharrell Williams asks, standing in his private artist compound hours away from his ultimate homecoming on the main stage of his Something in The Water festival. With accolades that read as a biography of multiple lifetimes, it would be difficult to put yourself in the shoes of someone with such unique and exhaustive accomplishments. The energy of the weekend established one thing: Virginia Beach is proud of Pharrell and Pharrell is proud of Virginia Beach. “It feels like it's brand new,” Williams explained. "Every moment it feels like it's brand new, I'm so honoured and so grateful”.

Despite some of the festival being cancelled due to weather conditions, musicians from all across the world still found their way to Pharrell’s hometown of Virginia Beach to put on a show. Located directly on the beach, the festival line-up included the likes of Kaytranada, Kid Cudi, Lil Wayne, Summer Walker, and A$AP Rocky. Near to 35,000 attendees showed up to celebrate Virginia Beach and the lasting legacy and impact Williams has had on his hometown. 

Having grown up during an era in which sneaker culture became an integral part of streetwear’s rise to the mainstream, Williams’ proximity to the world of trainers can be traced throughout the span of his career. Reflecting on the trainers that he first longed for while growing up in Virginia Beach Williams said, “Jordans were always at the top of my list I just couldn't afford them, so I always wore Vans.” 

Several decades after launching Billionaire Boys Club and Ice Cream footwear with close collaborator Nigo, Williams’ name remains attached to some of fashion's biggest shoewear collaborations, with his most popular including his partnership with German sportswear company adidas. Over the years, the Pharrell x adidas partnerships has seen customised editions of the famous Stan Smith sneaker and 50 monochrome colourways of the Superstar. 

Now for their latest project in collaboration with Williams’ brand Humanrace, the two pioneers have created a brand new collection of Sambas. “These are just ideas right? It takes a comprehensive team to pull it off,” Williams explained, “It takes amazing partnerships to create the opportunities and then it takes a really amazing consumer base who are interested and loyal and incredibly supportive. All of this needs to come into play for all of this to happen.”

Unveiled with a special pop-up at the SITW festival, Williams gave attendees a first chance of getting their hands on the latest collection. Created in several different colourways, the new Samba is available in yellow, orange, pink, red and lilac, alongside a special Humanrace Green exclusive to family, friends, and raffle winners at the festival. The colourways are linked to our product lines for the Humanrace skincare. It was all in the details.” Williams explained, speaking on the inspiration and process of creating the new Samba.

With distinct adjustments to the original Samba model and a strong emphasis on authentic craftsmanship, the new Humanrace collection elevates the original silhouette with new raw materials. The shoe's toe cap, leather linings and shoelaces all feature premium ECCO Leather, sourced from the Netherlands with the intention of using water-saving tanning technology in order to have better performance abilities and higher colour fastness. “Craftsmanship is always going to be integral, if it's terrible no one is ever going to wear it so it's super necessary.” The future of adidas’ innovative approach to new technologies appears to prioritise wearer experience above all and the new Humanrace Samba is undeniably a step in that direction.

Head to the gallery above to check out images from the popup at Something in The Water.

The full collection launches globally on Saturday 6 May on the adidas Confirmed app, Humanrace and will be stocked at Offspring in UK.