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Highsnobiety Q&A December, 6 2013

David Obadia of BWGH Talks Collaborating with PUMA, Creative Inspiration and More

David Obadia, founder of Brooklyn We Go Hard (BWGH), is the latest creative in a long line of esteemed collaborations with PUMA. After taking a closer look at the complete “Bluefield” Project, we exchanged a few words with the Parisian clothing designer.

The BWGH x PUMA R698 releases tomorrow, December 7, at select retailers around the globe, including SOTO Berlin.

Hey David, hope you’re well. We wanted to talk to you about the first collaboration between BWGH and PUMA. How did this cooperation come about? When did you start talking with PUMA?

Greg Hervieux, from Black Rainbow, had first recommended me to the director of the “select” department of PUMA that is in charge of collaborations and relationships with the influencers all over the world. He introduced me as a young talented designer, full of energy. I met the PUMA team and we immediately shared a common point of view on what we expected. It soon became a friendship adventure.

PUMA has worked with some of the most prestigious names in fashion, including Jil Sander and Alexander McQueen, alongside many big streetwear players like Undefeated. How does it feel to be next in line after so many big names? Does it create a certain pressure for you as a young designer and brand?

Having the honor to work with PUMA after so many prestigious “maisons de couture” and designers that I admire was a bit pressuring, indeed. Working with a sportswear giant was also something intimidating. But I was also so proud to see they trust me! It gave me real confidence to lead the project, to go further in creativity and to bring my own vision to this collaboration.

We think PUMA made a great choice in working with you guys. It’s somewhat unexpected and a refreshing take on sportswear. BWGH is not a classic streetwear brand and also not a fashion/high-fashion brand, but a modern, casual menswear brand flourishing with the recent menswear trend. How did you approach the collaboration from a design perspective? Where did you start?

BWGH is not a streetwear brand strictly spoken but it is still far away from a high-fashion brand, obviously. My purpose since I started the brand was to combine the best of these two universes, to reconcile the aura and energy of original streetwear brands and the technical savoir-faire of high fashion. As you know, my passion for modern and contemporary art is the basis of my creative inspiration.

For this pair, I drew inspiration from the work of Mark Rothko, an American painter famous for his contribution to the Colorfield Painting movement. It captured my imagination with his use of pure and intense colors, his work around blue (which is my favorite color) and his intellectual approach to painting. He believed, as I do, that colors were a true language.

The first BWGH x PUMA collection consists of both sneakers and apparel. Can you give us some background on the design and choice of colors?

Yes, this first drop consists of a pair of sneakers, a skateboard and a backpack. Everything is based on the Rothko masterpieces for the color palette and the choices of different tints of blue. I also tried to illustrate the specific techniques of Colorfield Painting in simplifying lines and in applying flat colors.

The R698 is one of PUMA’s models which inspired me the most and I imagined it with all the BWGH codes: bouclé knit which is our signature and contrasted colors, mottled laces, suede and mesh refer to my taste for specific materials.

How much freedom did PUMA give you for your collection? How does the design and creation process work when a small brand like BWGH and a massive brand like PUMA work together?

First, we thought about what PUMA means to us. Energy, joy, happiness and dynamism were the first words that came to mind. And we decided to mix our own codes with the great heritage of that sportswear giant.

I was pleasantly surprised to see the total freedom they gave me in designing the line and the confidence they placed in me. PUMA gave us the means to bring our vision – they respected our choices of materials, colors and textures. It was a real pleasure to work that way.

You’ve been a sneaker fan long before this collaboration with PUMA. How does it feel to design and mess around with one of the sportswear brand’s most iconic silhouettes? Is it scary or just all fun and a big adventure?

I have always loved sneakers so you can imagine how honored and excited I was to lead such a big adventure. I was not scared; it was quite the contrary, actually. PUMA showed confidence in my work. I know it was also a way to give BWGH more visibility while making a product that I dreamt of making when I was a child.

Growing up to today, what are your personal favorite sneakers?

One of my favorite models may be the PUMA Clyde that symbolizes my love for the hip-hop community. Puma was the first to show and promote Black American culture as a true cultural movement.

I would also mention the Ronnie Fieg x PUMA Disc. I really love the work that Ronnie did with PUMA. As he’s acted as my mentor since day 1 and has now became a really good friend of mine, it means a lot to me.

Finally, I am a big fan of Japanese brands such as visvim and The SoloIst, so I could cite my visvim FBT designed by Hiroki Nakamura as one of my favorite pairs ever.

What can you tell us about the future of the BWGH x PUMA partnership? Is this an ongoing thing and if so, what can we expect to see?

The “Bluefield” Project is just the first drop of a more important collaboration indeed. We are thinking about a long-term partnership that will start by the realization of a complete wardrobe for Fall/Winter 2014, from outerwear to accessories. We have now added one more string to our bow with the sneakers and there are some goods surprises to come.

Thanks a lot for your time David and we wish you the best of luck for your future projects!

Thank you so much.

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