This Spring, Guess collaborated with FriendsWithYou on a capsule collection of colorful silhouettes and fabrications. The collection consists of 81 pieces, that are available from April. “GUESS has joined forces with FriendsWithYou to spark a movement – an opportunity to shape our world to be a happy place, a place where everything is Friends-With-You,” say FriendsWithYou founders, Samuel Borkson and Arturo Sandoval III. We had the pleasure to talk about the collection with Nicolai Marciano from GUESS and Samuel and Arturo from FriendsWithYou.
Hi Nicolai, Samuel and Arturo. This is not the first time you’re working together. Can you share with us how did the partnership of Guess x FriendsWithYou come to life?
Samuel: It started mostly as a friendship, which is kinda cool, you know. We met Nicolai and instantly became friends, just him being so down to earth, a cool kid. And also so professional and so much in love with creating art as fashion. And I think that was also a big part of our collaboration with J Balvin, which came from a similar type of mindset, of just spreading joy and some type of good feeling to people. So that’s how it kind of got rolling.
Nicolai, we would love to hear more about your story with Guess. How did it all start, what are your goals for the brand?
Nicolai: I started working for the company seven years ago. I left high school early and started working for the brand. I started working in product development for denim and production was very product focused for the first couple of years. Then, like in the second to third year, I started getting more creatively involved, started putting some projects together. From one thing to another and thinking for the brand, we now have a department we’ve started and two new subdivisions of the company. One is Guess Originals and one is Guess U.S.A. And those are both brands that I managed directly along with the bigger overall partnerships, like this FriendWithYou partnership, which is a global kind of Guess partnership, all around the world.
This year going into next year, we’re turning 40. And you know, I think the goals are really to see the company here for the next 40 years. So, it’s about doing the right things, what’s right for the brand and keeping the integrity, but also doing the right kind of storytelling from our archive and telling the right stories about our advertising. I think a lot of what we do, from Originals and Guess U.S.A. standpoint, we really educate, inform this younger generation of what Guess was built on. And there’s kind of a lot of this nostalgia there and a lot of people then understand “Oh, that’s why Guess is everywhere”. I understand what it was made from and the story it had with Jeans and the story it had with campaigns and advertising. So, a lot of what we do is storytelling and I think it makes it fun cause we have a lot of history and there’s a lot of opportunity to work with a lot of different people. At the same time, it was just elevating and like enhancing, our brand as a whole.
Samuel and Arturo, the sole purpose of FriendsWithYou is spreading the positive message of Magic, Luck and Friendship. Tell us more about the brand itself. Are your designs always so colorful and playful?
Arturo: Yeah, that’s something that we thought was always kind of a unique angle to what we want to do on the art. We think that to some degrees art in general tends to be about the dark side of the human soul. It feels like that art is linked to this idea that you own and it’s only bad. And we’ve kind of taken this other angle, like why couldn’t it be the opposite of that? Could it be something that is optimistic and that is focusing on the lighter side of the human experience, and that’s something that we started doing from the beginning, from the first project that we did together. It was 20 years ago, this toys that were kind of like amulets that brought you good luck. They really helped you along the human life journey. And it’s always been about that. It’s like, how do we take this concepts that are kind of global or universal in the human experience, like icons and things that really bring us positivity, that makes us think about the positive things in life and how do we make those things and redesign them and use them through public culture to bring those ideas back into the mix. So that’s kind of been central to what we’ve been doing together for 20 years, Sam and I. It’s been amazing and what we’re doing with Guess is a perfect example of that. There are ideas that are birthed in our studio through almost traditional art means, painting and sculpture and thinking and whatever, but somehow then apply it to more democratic kind of distribution means. And with a reach that Guess has on a global scale, it is a perfect match of the marketplace and then our concepts of really sharing this positivity.
What was the whole idea and concept behind the Spring 2021 capsule collection that you launched just recently?
Samuel: The main idea was really doing that similar thing as Arturo had mentioned, like taking this kind of amulets that are created for an international idea, bringing the world closer together while at the same time empowering each human, that is super powered with this colorful and intention based apparel that we’re creating. We put love into every item and every concept that we’re creating and that’s what we do with our fine art. So we’re like, let’s do the same thing with this more further reaching apparel, give it so much love that when you are wearing it, you’re now a catalyst for spreading love yourself. And also bringing yourself this magical love. It’s almost like psychomagic, like the idea from Alejandro Jodorowsky, bringing in this concept that we can change, not only our environment, but a greater world itself. So that was the first major concept that we wanted to create this larger reaching and more accessible concept together with Guess and Nicolai and Paul. We’re so excited that they embraced this idea and both of them are so innovative, and seeing that this is a new world trend by people not wanting to feel bad and also giving access of art to people in a more accessible way.
What is the main message behind this collection? How would you describe the target customers of this capsule?
Nicolai: I feel like you just kinda mentioned what the message was. It’s about what you guys stand for and what FriendsWithYou is.
Arturo: Specific to your question, who is it that we’re targeting? I think that we are targeting people that are not afraid of showing this optimistic side or people that want to kind of embrace that. And I think that is a very timely kind of collaboration, because I feel that is also very popular, at least in United States. And I’m sure it’s similar in Europe, that it’s becoming more common to wear clothes that are evocative. So I feel like there’s almost a new window of permission to be that evocative with the clothes. And I think that we’re definitely challenged trying to capitalize on that. Not just in the capital sense, but more in the “Okay, now it’s allowed to really express yourself in that manner”. And I think that is what is cool. We have been wearing some of the test samples around and stuff like that. And people can’t help themselves by being “Oh my God, that is the cutest rainbow jacket I’ve ever seen”. It’s something that brings joy out of just wearing it. You become a symbol if you’re the one that is in the group and you’re walking by and you are wearing the rainbow jacket, I think people smile at you. They’re like “Oh my God, that person is not afraid of wearing that”. You know, like that positive kind of look in life. And I think it brings it out of all the people. There’s almost like symmetry of positiveness that happens when you wear something that evokes that feeling. And that’s something that’s very interesting to us. I think that our target are people that are down to do that. I feel like there’s a lot more of that happening.
Samuel: It’s really about world unity and it’s about self-healing and self-empowerment. So it’s self-empowerment to create world unity what we’re really pushing for. That’s kind of what our art is about, how do we heal ourselves and each other to be compassionate and empathetic towards each other to then start this larger cycle of healing and happiness and retraining our minds to seek this type of recourse with the universe together, so that we’re creating almost this endless cycle of self-care that then turns into us nurturing our whole garden or our community and that’s really cool.
The collection has 81 pieces. You all must have one piece that stands out to you and is your favorite. We would love to hear which piece is your favorite.
Arturo: I don’t know if I have a favorite one. I think it’s hard to pick one of the babies to be like, that’s my favorite baby. But I definitely think that a lot of the pieces that are very dense with designs are kind of some of my favorites. There’s a lot of overall patterns and stuff like that. And I like some of those a lot, but I don’t really have a favorite one.
Samuel: I would agree. Once you see the whole collection, it’s so amazing. But, we made this little cloud backpack, which is one of our most iconic symbols and it’s this super cute thing that I could just see everybody wearing. And I mean, each of the pieces is so bright and happy. We did our first samples with Nicolai, me and Arturo. And he got a huge smile on his face. Every item is so well thought of and so well cared for. So it was really an exciting and fun project to release.
Are you already thinking of another collaboration between Guess and FriendsWithYou?
Samuel: We really see our partnerships like they don’t really go away or end, we’re very different as artists that way. We continue working with people that feel right and really get the message. We’ve already been speaking to Nicolai about much bigger projects, like doing multiple projects, possibly even creating a whole new top secret type of collaboration together, which is going to be a more long-term thing. But, even for our fine art projects and larger scale installations, we make little capsule collections with Nicolai and it’s just kind of an ongoing collaboration and friendship and it just gets better with each thing. So it’s fun for us to explore that.
Nicolai: There’s more to come and we’re excited to keep it going.
This interview was done for Numéro Netherlands by Jana Letonja & Timotej Letonja.