John Elliott has teamed up with Yamaha on an exclusive capsule line featuring a custom EX Deluxe WaveRunner.
In our lookbook feature, John speaks to the story behind the seven piece apparel collaboration.
The John Elliott x Yamaha Capsule will be available for purchase through JohnElliott.co on Friday, August 24th at 11 AM EST, and on SSENSE.com shortly thereafter.
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What was the genesis behind the Yamaha collaboration?
In the summer of 2016 we held a runway show as part of NYFW that was one of our most critically acclaimed ever. It was for our Spring Summer ‘17 collection, titled Watching Water. That night, we had an after party that Virgil DJ’d – It was 5X over max capacity in a really small room, some furniture items were destroyed, and the bill was obscene…but it was one of the best nights ever. We wanted to celebrate because we were excited about the collection and the reaction to the show, which was a very big risk for us conceptually.
The next morning, I limped into our showroom in Soho for an appointment with SSENSE. They loved the collection, and mentioned that we should partner on something special for it. In that moment, I told their buyer off the cuff that I was going to customize a WaveRunner and we’d do a collection with Yamaha as an exclusive SSENSE partnership.
For anyone that really knows me, no matter how crazy something may sound, I try to stick to my word, no matter how long it takes, and even if it’s 2 1/2 years later.
Why collaborate with Yamaha?
If you look at Yamaha’s heritage and who they are as a brand, you realize that not only are they extremely important in motor sports, but they are equally important in watercraft. They’ve been a competitor in that sector forever. Yamaha has a genuine legacy and that was really attractive to me.
I don’t necessarily have friends who own WaveRunners, but it’s always been aspirational to have one. I will say unequivocally some of my favorite days on holiday have been riding a WaveRunner. My dad also plays guitar and growing up he had a Yamaha - I’ve always loved their Tuning Fork logo.
As a brand, we collaborate with companies we respect. There was a great deal of perseverance that went into making this collaboration happen, and at the same time there was an affinity between both brands, to the point where Yamaha let us customize a WaveRunner. Even though it took a long time, the product benefitted. Instead of looking like surface level merch, the ideas were developed over a lifespan where we improved as product developers.
Thank you to Yamaha, because this is one of the best collaborations we’ve had the opportunity to work on. Everyone in our office will wear it. It’s a souvenir, so if you’re an avid follower of the brand it’s probably something you’ll want to collect. This may sound like, “What are you talking about? It’s logos on hoodies and tees” - but Yamaha is an international company collaborating with a young startup, and there were hiccups along the way. In my opinion, those hiccups made the collaboration that much cooler. Some of my favorite songs in the world are the ones you don’t expect to hear on the album.
What was the inspiration behind the collection?
The nucleus of the Yamaha Capsule is a customized EX Deluxe Rec-Lite WaveRunner. For the apparel, there are swim pieces, like boards shorts and a towel, but built around that is a collection that’s inspired by the idea of warm ups for a sponsored athlete or WaveRunner enthusiast. One stand out piece is the hoodie. The face of the French terry is heavyweight jersey, but the loops are colored. The thing I wanted to try to achieve on the cream colored hoodie was for the inside of the hood to be water tinted – to sort of drive home the point that it was meant to be something a lifeguard could wear - or if there was a warm up for a competition you’d wear it before heading into the water to take the WaveRunner off a jump. It’s a playful, but elevated collection.