Photos by John Lamparski, Theo Wargo, Jimi Celeste, Amy Sussman, Nicholas Hunt and Nynja Dudok Van Heel. If, while on your bike commute through New York on Wednesday, you happened to see what appeared to be a green-haired Pharrell Williams spinning alongside you in the bike lane, you weren’t imagining things. The 10-time Grammy-winner spent the day on a bike tour of the city’s various G-Star stores, peddling from the Williamsburg location to the SoHo store, finally ending up at the brand’s new Fifth Avenue unit, which officially opened Wednesday.
Creating quite the dramatic entrance, Williams, who is G-Star’s “head of imagination,” came cruising into the double doors of the Fifth Avenue store on bike, much to the delight of the fans clustered on the street. Williams seemed to enjoy his day of cycling. “Broke a bit of a sweat but it was fun,” he said, having caught his breath inside. “It wasn’t scary, it was more fun than anything else. This is the first time in a long time [that I’ve biked].”
Williams, who will return to performing this summer after a long hiatus, playing in Glasgow in July, is no stranger to fashion collaborations — he’s worked with brands like Moynat, Moncler and Adidas Originals, and last week Chanel posted a video of Williams visiting its ateliers to see the preparation of the house’s latest Métiers d’Art collection. “Usually, I like someone’s history, what they’re doing at that moment, and if I’m able to see an empty space, something that I can bring to the table,” he said of how he selects such partnerships. “If they don’t need me, I don’t like going in there. I feel like you’re in the way then; what are you going to do except complicate things? I really like when there’s a little gap, or when there’s something we could turn up or amplify.”
With G-Star, that gap has led to two years of collaboration, resulting in RAW for the Ocean, which works to repurpose plastic from the ocean shore and use it in denim. “I felt that there was room to have a much broader message, or individuality,” he said of his G-Star involvement. “That was my own personal opinion. I wanted to go even deeper into being a brand for the people, and have the people feel empowered. And have these things be a bunch of canvases for DIYs, you know what I mean? I want to turn that message of possibility up in here.”