Pharrell Talks His New “Barefoot” Sneaker, His Vision of Luxury, and Trusting the Universe


The first time Pharrell Williams laced up a sample of his latest sneaker with Adidas, he was struck by a sensation he’d never quite felt before. “It reminded me of being barefoot,” he says. “Obviously you have all this advanced cushioning and technology, but you just feel so much closer to the earth.”

With that in mind, Pharrell knew immediately where to turn to when it came time to name the shoe. “I wanted to get advice from our native brothers and sisters,” he says, “because I’ve learned so much from the way they see existence and nature.” Five years ago, Pharrell traveled to North Dakota to meet members of the Standing Rock Sioux tribe to shoot the first campaign for his Adidas Hu NMD sneaker, and he’s stayed close with several of them ever since. “I reached out to my brother Dee Jay Two Bears, and asked him how I would say ‘barefoot’ [in Dakota]. He gave me something even better—‘sičhona,’ which means ‘connecting to the earth.’” That would be the name: the Humanrace Sičhona.

To debut the shoe, Pharrell and Adidas returned to Standing Rock to shoot another campaign starring Dakota youth. It’s a full-circle moment that feels particularly apt: The Hu NMD went on to become a verified global hit, spawning dozens of freaky colorways and an unprecedented collaboration with Chanel. The Sičhona, meanwhile, marks a fresh chapter in Pharrell’s long-standing partnership with the Three Stripes. Beyond all the hypermodern tech stuffed into its sleek silhouette—like the strikingly sculptural Futurenatural midsoles, which allow your feet to move more fluidly and naturally—the Sičhona is also the very first shoe to bear Pharrell’s Humanrace logo, which he introduced last year with the launch of his much-heralded skincare line.

With the Humanrace Sičhona dropping on August 27 via Adidas’s Confirmed app, Humanrace.com, and select retailers, GQ caught up with Pharrell about his new line, his legacy in sneakers, and trusting the universe.

Courtesy of Adidas

GQ: This is the first sneaker you’ve released featuring your Humanrace branding. What was the impetus behind that move?

Pharrell: Humanrace is my new luxury brand. I look at luxury in a totally different way. It has to look beautiful, be made beautiful, but also be useful. When you buy something, these things should stay with you. Everybody’s making way more considered purchases these days than they ever have before—it’s mindful consumption, which is super important. Prioritizing yourself to begin with, that’s important. That’s your well-being. That’s the ultimate luxury: looking after yourself, looking after others, and just being considerate of the environment. That’s what we want to do with Humanrace. We want to bring convenience and design and consideration, and we want to bring conditioning.

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