Bad Bunny©adidas

Inside the design process for Bad Bunny’s collection with adidas

The singer speaks his mind

Bad Bunny is debatably the number 1 artist in the world and is passionate about everything he does. From performing on stage at Coachella to flying through the air in the WWE, to designing shoes, the Puerto Rican star leaves a mark on anything he does. Since 2021 he has collaborated with adidas, releasing his first shoe with the brand on March 17, 2021. Fast forward to now, they have released 10 collections together, the most recent being April 29th, Campus Wild Moss. Perfect for Spring, the signature shoe was sparked by the creative vision of Benito, and he rocked them on stage at the Coachella Valley Music Festival ahead of their release.

adidas Bad Bunny©adidas
Bad Bunny performs with Post Malone at Coachella wearing the Wild Moss shoe

HOLA! USA had the opportunity to talk to Rafael Mayorga, the Design Director at adidas, to get the inside scoop on Bad Bunny’s role in the design process, how they draw inspiration from Puerto Rico and more.

Tell me a little bit about your journey and how you found yourself at adidas

Well, I was born in Mexico and studied design in the US since I was a kid, always been really into drawing, crafting, experimenting, and sculpting. So footwear design kind of brings all those things together. My footwear background is in cowboy boots actually. I started designing cowboy boots as my first footwear design gig. But I’ve always wanted to get into athletics and the sneaker space. So when the opportunity came up to work on the partnership side of things with adidas I jumped at the opportunity.

Nice. And you’ve been with the team since the very first Bad Bunny release, is that right?

Yes. There’s a very small team of three people that met with him back in early 2020, I think. I think he was about to release one of his new albums and we met with him in New York and had a really cool creative design meeting presented to him in Spanish. It was a really inspiring session.

adidas Bad Bunny©adidas
Bad Bunny peforms at Coachella

How would you describe Bad Bunny when it comes to designing?

He’s very inquisitive, he has a lot of really interesting takes on how to approach design. He also has a really great creative director, Anthony, who I work with a lot on the day-to-day, getting things sent back and forth through to him. He asks a lot of questions and he’s also very, dialed in on his opinion, but he is also very open, which is what makes the best partnership really - to work with someone like that who’s open and willing to try new things. And not everyone does that.

Has he ever been like, ‘I don’t really like that.’ Can we do something different?

Oh, yeah. I mean, that’s part of the process. We do our best to accommodate that. I think the first Forum that we designed was initially white and at the 11th hour he was like, ‘Hey, I kind of want this in brown.’ Like, he really follows his intuition and his gut on things. So we were able to make it happen and tweak some things and make it work, but it was the right call. So I think that’s the trust that we have in each other. You know, when someone feels a particular way, it’s like, ‘Hey, let’s, let’s follow, let’s act upon that.’

adidas Bad Bunny©adidas
“The First Café” Forum

Tell me a little bit about how Puerto Rico acted as an inspiration for this latest design.

We always try to spend as much - when I say we like the product design team, marketing team, and everybody who’s involved in bringing these things to life- We try to spend as much time in Puerto Rico as possible to soak up the beautiful culture and just the rhythm that that island has. So we spend some time on the beach, obviously, Puerto Rico’s known for being world-renowned for its amazing beaches and landscapes. So you kind of see a gentle nod to the waves on the mudguard of the shoe, little things like that. And we try to find clever and cool ways to inject some Puerto Rico details to it. Like there’s the flag on the tongue, but it’s stitched through. It’s not so on your nose, it’s just kind of more of a moment of discovery. You take the tongue out and you see, ‘Oh, it’s the Puerto Rican flag stitched onto the first one.’ But we always wanna make sure we capture a little something on any shoe that we do with him that relates back to the island.

What details on the shoe are directly related to Bad Bunny? I know the double tongue is an ode to the languages he speaks.

We’ve been using the eyeball graphic that he kind of started using on his first albums, And the double tongue is - he speaks many languages actually. He speaks Japanese as well. There is a song he did in Japanese. He speaks English and Spanish, obviously. So that’s kind of like a little wink at that- the double tongue bilingual kind of thing where we’re trying to find a tasteful approach to it.

adidas Bad Bunny©adidas

How has the collaboration evolved from shoe to shoe?

Yeah, that’s actually been a really fun part. The team gets a little bit bigger, but we are also able to spend a little bit more time in the studio with them and have more of a creative setting. You know, we started this partnership at the very beginning before Covid hit. So in the early phases, we were doing everything digitally. So it’s really nice to be able to sit in the same rooms and into our sample workshop here at the office and co-create. That’s really been the really exciting part. Each time that we do a new product, we’re actually spending more and more time together co-creating in the studio. So that’s a lot of fun.

And tell me a little bit about like what goes into designing a shoe from the first sketch to the first prototype.

It kind of comes in phases and each project kind of starts in different ways, but for the majority of his products, we always start with the discovery phase. Like maybe something that is a light bulb moment or a little seed of an idea that we then start to iterate and kind of create with. Sometimes it’s music, sometimes it’s film, could be photography, could be anything that sparks that idea. And then we just build upon that. And then it comes down to getting those ideas, refining ‘em, getting samples made. Cause I think that’s really an exciting process. When something goes from a sketch to a sample, it’s really when the fun starts.

Bad Bunny Campus Light©adidas

How can you say the Latin community has influenced sneaker culture over the last few years?

I’d say it’s influenced culture at a macro level, you know film, music, obviously with Benito and everything really, in our culture. And obviously, that’s where sneaker culture draws its inspiration from, whether it’s sports, music, film, or what have you. I think Latin and Hispanic culture has been influencing at a bigger level, and that trickles down into sneakers.

Do you have a favorite memory with Benito?

Actually, just last month before Coachella we had some time to spend with him and actually go shopping and check out some different things. And he gave us a firsthand feel for where his vision is going and the risks that he’s willing to take. We did a group shopping trip, which is kind of hard to do with somebody that’s so busy, but I’m glad he had some time for us.

What advice would you have for designers that are interested in a similar career? I mean, and I’m sure there’s a bunch of Latinos that would love to do this type of stuff.

I would say just to be open. That’s the key. Open to new technology and new ways of working. It’s foundational to being creative and just having an open mind. It’s a great way to stay sharp, especially with everything that’s going on, in, technology and manufacturing and footwear in general. So any creative, not just for a footwear designer, I would say just to be open.

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