Worldview: The Distress Issue
A Conversation Between Pharrell Williams and G-STAR Global Brand Director Shubhankar Ray
Shubhankar Ray: What was your first encounter with Bionic Yarn? I don’t think we’ve discussed how that all began.
Pharrell Williams: I met Tyson [Toussant, Founder of Bionic Yarn] through a friend. I loved what he was doing. Initially we were looking at Bionic Yarn fabrics for Billionaire Boys Club and I was fascinated by the technology behind it. I couldn’t believe how it felt in relation to what was in it.
SR: I think that is the future of environmentally sustainable products; they handle and feel familiar, as soft or strong as regular garments, but you know that they are made with recycled plastic and cotton and thus have a wider impact in future proofing fashion. The ultimate form of sustainable design is when you can give post consumer waste like plastic bottles a new life as denim, and at the same time make an impact on cleaning up the oceans.
PW: Exactly. That’s why RAW for the Oceans makes sense. Using Bionic Yarn for the first denim from recycled ocean plastic, and transforming that innovation into something you really want to wear. To find out ocean plastic will break down and act like oil droplets—so in the future, when we list the properties of ocean water we will have to include plastic—that is shocking. It’s about creating a practical way to make earth conservation accessible.
SR: The best way to make a conservation impact in the modern age is through rethinking existing business models to build in sustainability as a condition for doing business rather than just a social responsibility. Did you think getting involved with Bionic as both shareholder and creative director would allow you to re-propose how fashion is made?
PW: That’s of course the ambition. With Raw For The Oceans I’m involved as a business partner through Bionic, but I’m also working with G-Star and The Vortex Project as the Creative Director for Bionic and have been heavily involved in every aspect of the creative work from fabric to ad copy. I’m really proud of how everything is coming together. Winning the Grand Prix at Cannes this year was a big highlight.
I’m excited for the world to see and feel what we’ve accomplished. The first RAW for the Oceans collection contains 10 tons of recycled PET plastic, that’s roughly 700,000 bottles that are no longer in the sea. And through just wearing the jeans or a denim jacket, you’re a part of that movement to raise awareness for ocean/planet problems and become part of the solution.