Upon the release of the collection, the international superstar, joined by the brand’s Nicolai Marciano, talks making clothes that spread love and light and the importance of being open about your mental health.
When thinking of J Balvin, many attributes spring to mind. International superstar. Four-time Grammy winner. Documentary-maker. Father. And, of course, fashion icon. Well, while the warmly-received release of the Ed Sheeran-featuring “Sigue/Forever My Love” and the upcoming 1st birthday of his son are all events worthy of note from the celebrated multi-facet, arguably one of the most exciting projects he has thrown himself into as of late, is the GUESS Originals x J Balvin Amor collection.
Joining forces with GUESS’ very own Nicolai Marciano for their latest collaborative collection, Balvin, also known as José Álvaro Osorio Balvín, has unveiled to his 52.1 million Instagram followers a capsule best describe as a bold and joyous ode to the timeless codes of the American brand as well as the artist’s own unapologetic aesthetic. Packed full of vibrant-meets-trippy patterning and the bold and beautiful slogan, ‘AMOR’, it is safe to say a mere glance at the collection is enough to put a smile on anyone’s face. And, this is just what Balvin wants.
“Because I am a creative, I love to see everything we do. Not because I want to be annoying, but because I love it,” he explains when contemplating the creation of his latest drop. “So, I love to have the input and to talk about it; it is definitely a great moment to drop a collection like this. This is what we really need. Throughout all of life but more so now with what is going on in Ukraine and things like that. There are some dark moments in the world right now, but we want to bring the light and the love and the peace and the colour.”
But, while this theme of love and light is one on the surface of this latest collaboration, it is one rooted in much more than just vibrant colours. With the seasoned artist turning to his inspired documentary, The Boy from Medellin as a core muse of the collection, the importance of having an open and candid narrative regarding mental health – a key focus of the documentary – makes itself known throughout the range of men’s, woman’s and children’s cuts that he has created. A message of great importance to the singer and the brand, the pair have come together to use their powers for a project as aesthetically pleasing as it is profound – a winning formula, some would say.
Joining me on a group Zoom from New York on a sunny May morning alongside an LA-bound Marciano, Balvin took some time to chat to Wonderland about the most important life lessons his son has taught him, his personal journey with mental health and his advice for fans who many be suffering themselves, as well as a collaborative collection brimming with love.
Head below to enjoy our interview with J Balvin and Nicolai Marciano…
Guys, I am going to dive straight in because we haven’t got long! José, let’s start with the collaboration and your work with GUESS! How are you feeling about the world seeing the collection? J Balvin: I get involved with everything because I have got to make sure that my essence, my energy, my vibe and my personality is inside of the clothing. I respect different types of artists, but some of them just put their stamp on it, and that is it. They don’t even know what they are going to drop, you know. Because I am a creative, I love to see everything we do. Not because I want to be annoying, but because I love it. So, I love to have the input and to talk about it; it is definitely a great moment to drop a collection like this. This is what we really need. Throughout all of life but more so now with what is going on in Ukraine and things like that. There are some dark moments in the world right now, but we want to bring the light and the love and the peace and the colour. So, I think the timing is perfect.
And, Nicolai, as much as this is a collaboration with José, it is a collaboration with GUESS. How did you work to make sure the brand’s codes were still in the collection whilst also honouring José and his amazing style? Nicolai Marciano: I think that is the beauty of working together on a collab. I think whether it is a different reference or a graphic, a style or a silhouette, we blend in the GUESS heritage and design language throughout the collection with José’s ideas, and that is the beauty of it. It is very personal to him and it respects our heritage. And, incorporating his personal style, that was a big thing that he and I discussed. The past two collections that we have done have been super colourful and very vibrant and very much his personality and his creative outlook and, in general, his expression. Obviously, we have done two collections together amongst other things, and José was like, ‘I want to make pieces that you and I are gonna wear’. It is a little bit more focused and a bit more refined. Even though it is very bold, it is far more primary, if that makes sense? The majority of it, it is blues, reds and greens. But, in a bit more of a timeless and iconic sense, verses really loud. I think that was fun for us because it was a bit of a switch of pace and was something that was resonating with us on a personal level.
And, as much as it is about the bold colours, I know it has a deeper meaning. I know that José, you have drawn on your amazing documentary through the collection. I also know that in the documentary you draw on mental health a lot; you have already mentioned that you want to incorporate this peace and this love into the collection as well. First of all, I want to touch on you personally, how do you keep your mental health in check? JB: It depends on the level of your mental health situation. For me personally, I take medication so that is one way. That is key when you have a deeper mental health situation. Besides that, you need to have a life with peace and love because that will help you to keep the vibes right. So, what I do is exercise, it helps me a lot.
You hit the gym? JB: Yeah, hit the gym, meditation – absolutely. And the rest is just about trying to keep the peace and the love in your surroundings. NM: This guy has one of the most strict regiments you’ve ever seen!
Really? NM: He does, this guy is up at 5 AM every day, it doesn’t matter where he is.
So you are meditating and working out at 5 AM? JB: Yeah, every morning!
That is dedication! JB: You know, discipline is what makes a difference.
It probably attributes to your success. Ok 5 AM, I am going to start getting up at 5 AM! JB: Welcome to the 5 AM club!
I will join you, I am gonna be there! So, obviously, we have spoken about your own mental health but do you have a message that you’d want to relay to your fans reading this who may be struggling with their own mental health? JB: Yeah, the message is that it is ok not to be ok firstly. It is a reality and don’t blame yourself for not being ok. And, try to spread your feeling that the people that are really close to you, even if they don’t understand because sometimes it can be hard to understand mental health. If they don’t, keep looking for things that are going to make you feel better. If that doesn’t work, you have gotta go to the doctor and see what is going on in your brain.
That is great advice! And, Nicolai, we are talking about the message that we want to relay to readers, but is there a specific message you’d like GUESS shoppers to take away from the collection? Is it a similar message that you are trying to portray? NM: Yeah, and I think it is just general positivity, you know what I mean? You want people to feel happy and I think that that is something that is unanimous with any work that José touches. That is just who he is and what he strives for, pushing this positive message and energy around the world. And, honestly, I think this has been through his music, reggaetón and other things, but that is one of the biggest things that we wanted to support, that outlook on life which I think is contagious in the best way possible!
For sure and José, I do want to touch on fatherhood, is it coming up to a year since you became a father? JB: Almost!
Almost, congrats, that is so exciting! How has fatherhood been, can you sum it up in a sentence? JB: I am just learning. I am catching up but, the love is growing.
Is there anything that your son has taught you? Any big life lessons? JB: I mean, he is not talking yet, but he has taught me a lot of patience.
Patience, for sure! I am sure he is up with you at 5 AM! I also couldn’t talk to you without talking to you about your music! I know you just released your song with Ed, what was it like working with him in the studio? JB: Amazing! Ed Sheeran is one of the greatest, we have a great relationship and we have done a great job. You can expect more music from me and Ed!
That is what we love to hear! And, guys what is next? We have the rest of 2022 ahead of us, what else is going on in life? JB: We are going to take over with this collection first! It is going to be going very soon! NM: We have a pop-up in LA that is opening tomorrow, so that will be fun. That is getting built out right now. Lots to come, too much to talk about! All great things!