There's a reason why Colombian musician J Balvin is often regarded as 'Raggaeton's global ambassador'. He's been making music since young but only broke into the scene when he got signed to EMI Colombia in 2009. Since then, his trajectory to superstardom and mainstream recognition has been largely fuelled by his contemporary interpretation of Latin music and stellar collaborations with some of music's biggest and finest.
Balvin's latest effort (his fifth album to date) is an energetic 10-track release inspired by colours. Aptly named Colores, each track was named after a colour, with the ninth track titled 'Arcoíris', meaning 'rainbow' in Spanish. The cover art for the album and its singles were done in collaboration with famed artist Takashi Murakami, featuring his iconic flowers.
To complete the vision for the album, Balvin collaborated once again with Guess on a capsule collection of the same name. Taking on the same spirit of Colores, the Guess x J Balvin Colores capsule collection is anything but safe in its execution. The colours—all ten of which are reflected as per the names of each track—are vibrant, the prints are punchy, and the vibe is the sort of youthful energy one would expect from anything that's tied to Balvin.
But more importantly, the capsule collection afforded Balvin to connect and pay homage to his equally colourful hometown of Medellín, Colombia. He expresses, "It has also been very exciting to shoot the Guess x J Balvin Colores campaign in the city where everything started for me—to have this huge global campaign with Guess, and be able to spotlight the vibrancy of the people and culture of Medellín. It is another opportunity to show the world how beautiful and amazing Colombia is, and the surging artistic vibes throughout the city and country."
The joy is apparent in the campaign images as Balvin is joined by Latinx models and with a crew that's largely part of the Latinx community as well.
We speak to Balvin to find out more about his second involvement with Guess on a capsule collection that's launched right when the world has been feeling rather bleak. And what gives him hope for a better tomorrow.
ESQ: This is not your first fashion collaboration. What is your process of conceptualising a collection? And has your approach changed from the first collection with Guess?
J BALVIN: Well, first I like to think about what energy I want to communicate with the clothing and then try to capture that with colours and design. It's always a collaborative process and with Guess, I was very lucky to work with their incredible design team to realise my vision. In terms of change, I am just trying to make sure everything I do—whether it's music, clothing, film—is better than what I've done before.
ESQ: I like that with your collaborations with Guess, there's a clear representation of Latinx culture and image—almost everyone involved with the campaign is Latinx. How important was this aspect for you?
J BALVIN: It's super important to me. Representation is vital so when I have the opportunity, I love to lift up Latinx talent.
ESQ: The beauty of the Colores capsule collection is that it's authentic to you and what you represent. Would you say that this partnership with Guess has been very easy?
J BALVIN: The collaboration was such a good experience. We made an entire collection based on my beloved Medellín and my love for all of the colours of the rainbow. Guess helped bring my ideas to life in an amazing way.
ESQ: You seem to have an affinity for colours in both your joyous personality and the clothes you wear. Where did that come from and have you always been bold in your fashion choices?
J BALVIN: My hometown Medellín is such a colourful city, and that definitely influenced my love for colours. I carry that over to the clothing I wear and hope the colours bring joy to people the way they have to me.
ESQ: Your album, Colores, is based on the concept of colours named after each song. If you had to choose just one colour to represent you, what would that be and why?
J BALVIN: I could never choose just one, which is why I included 'Arcoíris' on the album. The colours are best when all are present.
ESQ: We're still in pretty troubled times and the Colores capsule collection—and your album too—feels like an unplanned and timely celebration of hope, unity, and family. What gives you hope?
J BALVIN: Music gives me hope and so does the youth. It feels like the next generation of kids are so much more informed and open to growth. The youth keep me excited about the future.
ESQ: Not only have you worked with some of the biggest in music and fashion, you've also gained mainstream success and accolades since debuting. But this hasn’t stopped you from being vocal about your beliefs. Why do you think it's important for you to speak up on world issues?
J BALVIN: It's very important to me because I've always looked up to musicians when I was growing up and would listen to what they say in interviews and onstage. So with so much going on in the world today, and being in the position I’m in with this many people paying attention, I have to find ways to use that to raise awareness so that hopefully future generations can have a better Earth to live on than we do right now.
ESQ: What is the measure of success for you when it comes to this particular collection?
J BALVIN: If the clothing makes the fans happy, it is successful. Seeing people wear the collection and enjoying themselves in it, that feels like success to me!
The Guess x J Balvin Colores capsule collection is now available in Guess stores.