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Pharrell Williams is getting Bionic.
This story first appeared in the December 8, 2008 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
The Grammy-winning musician has entered into a partnership with Bionic Yarn, a two-year-old textile firm based in New York dedicated to developing environmentally sustainable fabrics. In this new role, Williams is both an owner and investor in the company, as well as an ambassador and spokesman for the brand. Williams has been on an acquisition spree lately: last week, he was spotted at Art Basel Miami, where sources said he snapped up a work by Takashi Murakami. (For more on the Miami scene, see page 4.)
Bionic Yarn engineers, markets and manufactures premium yarns and fabrics using fibers comprised of recycled plastic bottles. The company’s primary applications include backpacks, luggage, handbags, activewear, outdoor apparel, workwear, casual apparel, denim, footwear and home furnishings. Bionic Yarn already has corporate partnerships with companies including Cole Haan, End Star, Billionaire Boys Club and Ice Cream (which Williams owns with Japanese fashion star Nigo), Prana, Mission Playground and Sophomore.
“I’m so interested in the technology behind this,” Williams told WWD of his decision to become a partner in Bionic Yarn. “I’m also very concerned about the environment and want to make a conscious effort to make it better.”
Williams said he will work hard to get the word out about the importance of utilizing the sustainable fabric and is working with his partner, Tyson Toussant, to develop textiles.
“We were just looking at this new canvas that is amazing,” he said. “Basically, the denim is still denim, the cotton is still cotton. The process to make the Bionic Yarn makes it extremely durable and gives it a really luxurious feel. When Nigo’s team — my partners at BBC/Ice Cream — felt the Bionic Yarn cotton, they couldn’t believe how smooth it feels.” Nigo also owns the trendy Japanese brand A Bathing Ape.
According to company research, more than 60 million plastic bottles go from the consumer to landfills and incinerators each day. Bionic Yarn’s mission is to preserve and protect the environment by creating these high-performance recycled fabrics to be used to create everyday items. The average piece of luggage made of Bionic Yarn contains 18 (1 liter) recycled plastic water bottles and the average pair of jeans made of the fabric contains seven recycled plastic beverage bottles.
“Our goal is to be the go-to fabric supplier,” Williams said. “We want to provide quality fabrics that happen to also be sustainable. We want to do everything from high-end luggage, to high-end denim, to university caps and gowns to Parks Department uniforms. It’s a plus that the fabric brings environmentalism to a whole new level.”
Besides these partnerships with Bionic Yarn and the Billionaire Boys Club and Ice Cream brands, Williams also partnered with Louis Vuitton earlier this year when he collaborated on a fine jewelry line and a collection of sunglasses.