Sep 17, 2023
by James Roberts
There’s Something Human About Pharrell and adidas’ NMD S1 MAHBS
by James Roberts
Sep 17, 2023

Pharrell Williams and adidas NMD have history. In 2016, he added “HUMAN RACE” lettering and midfoot cages to brightly colored PrimeKnit uppers. The following year, in collaboration with CHANEL, he added the Parisian fashion houses’s wordmark to a black upper. And then last year, there was the space age HU NMD S1 RYAT boot.

This year, Pharrell’s overhaul of the NMD is best described as burlap sack meets alien trail runner. Is it from the future or is it made from the bag you keep your onions in? (Well, that’s the best we could come up with. Maybe you’ve got something better.)

Back in January, Pharrell and adidas dropped the NMD S1 MAHBS in an Oatmeal Blue colorway. The 50/50, yin-yang style design polarized fans. Upfront it was minimal and rustic with its canvas upper and rope laces. While at the back and on the outside it was bright blue and emblazoned with the word “Humanrace.”

It might have been dividing, but a new colorway has just been revealed: Oatmeal Pink. It follows the same styling as the previous iteration but this time forgoes blue for pink. The pink is much less vibrant than the blue, which we think actually sits better with the natural oatmeal finish of the canvas. There’s a bit more harmony going on here. The NMD S1 MAHBS features those midsole plugs and Boost comfort that we’ve all come to love about the OG NMDs, and uses adidas’ Trefoil logo as the lug design on the outsole. Smart.

Apparently, Pharrell spent 2022 reconnecting with nature which led to his recent outdoors-inspired collaborative efforts with adidas. However, it doesn’t really explain why he’s chosen the bold “Humanrace” wording on these kicks. But, apparently, it’s all about a love for humanity and its creative abilities. “MAHBS, especially the naming convention, are yet another opportunity to be the expression of a group of humans, a mob”, says Williams. “But we want to take these expressions and appropriate them for good. Positive propaganda, if you will.” We’ll let you try to digest that.

If you look closely, there is something human about these kicks though. The spraypaint-style finish of the lettering is not super neat or mechanical, allowing the natural textures of the upper coming through the paint. Similarly, the heel feels like it’s been hand dipped without too much concern for how clean the lines will come out. The artist’s hand is present.

The choice of materials — rope laces, canvas upper and rubber midsole — all resist the temptation for any leather detailing. While it may not win any sustainability awards, it’s a lot better than some recent efforts from adidas’ peers and competitors.

The Pharrell Williams x adidas NMD S1 MAHBS in Oatmeal Pink is expected to land on the adidas website and select retailers in the coming months for $230 USD.