“Hu is about the recognition and celebration of different colors, spirituality and cultures,” the musician and fashion entrepreneur said in an interview. “I think the point is to highlight the differences so people can realize that despite all those differences, we are all basically the same.”
Williams introduced Hu — short for human and pronounced like the word hue — in July with limited-edition Adidas NMD sneakers that set social media alight because of their rarity, celebrity affiliation, bright colors and an unusual lacing system that winds through the shoe’s cage.
Now he’s layered on a 14-piece apparel collection and five new variations of the shoes — in colors such as tangerine and bearing the words “Human Being.”
It comes in tandem with an online campaign spotlighting MHA Nation, which stands for the Mandan, Hidatsa and Arikara tribes. Young members of this community of Native Americans in North Dakota donned the clothes, and its leaders chose to also show off ceremonial garb loaded with feathers and colorful beading.
“It’s a platform for them to tell their stories,” said Williams, who plans to showcase a different community with each subsequent drop of Hu. “Our goal is to tell many different stories. As society evolves, we realize the blend of cultures is an enriching thing. We are learning that we can celebrate our differences and not let them divide us.”
Talking excitedly, Williams discusses how throwing together musical genres produces “artistic disruption” that creates new sounds, while perfumers blend odors and textures to concoct new scents.
The same can be said of food. “Think about chocolate and peanut butter. When they slammed them together, it made an explosion. That’s something that couldn’t have happened with chocolate alone or peanut butter alone,” he said. “It’s such a cool phenomenon.”
The Hu project extends Williams’ fashion-with-a-conscience approach. In February, he became a co-owner of Dutch jeanswear firm G-Star Raw. He first became associated with the brand by doing Raw for the Oceans collections using Bionic Yarn, his sustainable fabric company.
He started collaborating with Adidas Originals in 2014, with its creative director Nic Galway lauding their shared values. “He’s all about positivity. He’s about connecting people and he’s about inclusivity,” Galway told WWD earlier this year.
Through Hu, Williams is encouraging people to improve themselves “mind, body and soul. Shine inside out, that’s what we’re about.”
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