Following the electrifying rollout of the landmark MONDOGENIUS digital experience on September 25th, Moncler’s House of Genius once again invites us all to delve deeper into their world with a new capsule collection and pop-up store series. Curated under the inventive gaze and pioneering perspectives of David Fischer, founder and CEO of Highsnobiety, Moncler’s House of Genius has officially unveiled a new capsule project celebrating the very best of contemporary craftsmanship and the iconic nature of Moncler’s back catalogue. This very special edition of House of Genius steps out from the screen and into the streets of London, finding a home within the corner shop of Selfridges on Oxford Street.
David’s steadfast role at the helm of Highsnobiety since its inception in 2005 has resulted in an unparalleled understanding of his community and an acute ability to decipher the cultural trends that will resonate with his audience of avant-garde and ahead of the curve cultural tastemakers. This commonality for cultural awareness and extreme brand authenticity is exactly the crossroads at which Highsnobiety and Moncler meet, making this a partnership forged with a certain sense of inevitably yet no less anticipation. The 4-week pop up beginning on the 1st of November will include a hand-picked selection of cornerstone pieces from the brightest and boldest collections of Moncler Genius past and present whilst also initiating a symphony of sought after newcomers to the ever-expanding Moncler universe. Titans of fashion such as Hiroshi Fujiwara and Francesco Ragazzi will join new editions to the Genius movement like G-Shock, Advisory Board Crystals and Hoka to bring originality and brilliance from every corner of the Moncler family to a physical location celebrating forward-thinking design.
We sat down with David following the first day of House of Genius at Selfridges to reflect on the genesis of this partnership between two of the largest shapers of modern media and merchandising. We also had to find out more about the extensive list of unexpected but intelligent brand partnerships running through the core of the collection and to hear his reasons why physical remains critical in a world of digital.
This collaboration between Moncler and yourself is a unique merge between e-commerce and media, manifesting together in the real world in an awesome pop-up store in Selfridges as well as many other locations across the globe. Can you tell us how the project came about and how you felt both parties complemented each other in this endeavour?
So we have been blessed to work with Moncler over many years and the work we have done with them has always centred around the Genius project. A lot of the designers featured in the Genius archives, from Hiroshi Fujiwara to Matthew Williams to Francesco Ragazzi from Palm Angels all featured heavily in the Highsnobiety world in a sense. So it always felt quite natural for Moncler and us to work together in some capacity on the Genius project. Moncler has done such a fantastic job opening this outdoor-inspired luxury world through this project. Particularly allowing different creatives and different brands to come in and craft their own interpretations of the iconic Moncler puffer jackets for this next generation luxury consumer.
Ultimately I think the consumer and audience that Moncler is reaching with the Genius project crosses a really interesting path with Highsnobiety. I think we have always talked to this ahead-of-the-curve audience that we always try to help keep ahead of certain trends so it’s a consumer base that we know really well. So when Mr Ruffini of Moncler asked if I would curate the Genius collection for this year I was of course unbelievably excited to get into it.
I’m curious, how was the experience transitioning from a Highsnobiety and Moncler partnership to a role where it’s you as an individual curating the collection. What was it like being able to embue more of your own personality and preferences of projects of the past that you love into this edition of Genius?
The process was amazing and, to your point, it’s a slightly different role than the one we would usually take. So on the one hand I got to design the House of Genius capsule collection, gadgets, and accessories that come with it but thankfully Moncler also allowed me to curate a range of smaller collaborative items into the project. The goal for me in many ways was to explore ideas outside of the traditional big designer collaborations, which are still obviously beautiful and impressive, and instead, create something that doesn’t really compete with that but rather gives a different type of access to the House of Genius collection. I thought it would be great to fold a younger audience into it and that’s why I curated the Hoka One One sneaker collaboration, the Moncler x G Shock watch, or the Advisory Board Crystals jersey collection into it.
I felt like those were all easygoing and cool products that would be perfect for a younger audience but at the same time added a great new layer to the project. They also beautiful translated to this pre-existing rocky/outdoor lifestyle that Moncler already had. So whether it’s an incredible trail running shoe like the Hoka, a tough G-Shock watch, the Yeti water bottle and cans or an ORTLIEB outdoor waterproof luggage, the filter became quite clear as to how all these gadgets would fit into the Moncler world. Deciding to bring all these truly authentic brands onboard adds this whole additional layer which was very fun to be a part of. Of course, then it is also Moncler so anybody that we took the idea to was thrilled to be a part of it. It was incredible for me to go out there and look for collaborations with the Moncler brand in my pocket and hear the excitement back from brands. That made the job a whole lot easier for me.
You have to keep in mind that it wasn’t a Highsnobiety collaboration, which is not to say it didn’t play a direct role, but the lens through which I approached the collection was ultimately all about Moncler. It was about House of Genius and what exactly that stands for and how Moncler has managed this incredible journey of becoming this culturally relevant luxury brand. For me, it was about continuing that path and hopefully adding to it in some way.
In many ways, my Highsnobiety perspective really helps me with that as it has given me a deep understanding of this community as we are ourselves members of it. I tried to think about i as if I was walking into a House of Genius pop-up store, what would I be excited to take home. We all know you could easily take home over 15 awesome puffer jackets but I thought it would be cool to be able to take home a nice sweatshirt or a backpack or a water bottle. Then, of course, us being Highsnobiety meant we absolutely had to do a sneaker that fits the project and theme. From a design perspective, we really wanted to keep the collection quite tight and concrete so it felt like it was strongly merchandised across the entire project.
Both Highsnobiety and Moncler have always been masters at delivering authentic and meaningful collaborations. How crucial was it to preserve the authenticity of that history as you narrowed down the items for this collection?
I mean it was absolutely everything. It’s almost this unquestionable fact that whatever product went in there had to feel totally authentic to the project, to the people involved, to the consumer and to the audience. That doesn’t mean that it cant still be surprising, I think you want to create this balance of feeling new and unexpected but also authentic. I think that’s really the sweet spot, so that had to be how we approached it. If you thought about it before, a G-Shock x Moncler watch kind of makes perfect sense but you may not have totally expected it despite being able to see it fitting. The same way a Moncler trail running shoe makes perfect sense. I’m not a designer myself so it was a lot of fun to be honing these ideas with the brands and the in-house Moncler design team to bring these ideas to life in an authentic way.
In today’s content-saturated world, how do you feel the physical space you have curated provides a unique experience?
It’s funny because I feel like having a physical space has become really important and this great differentiator. To your point, because everything has become so focused around being digital, having an element in the physical now adds a whole other dimension to it. So whether it’s been our Not In Paris exhibition or our series or pop-ups with Selfridges, Maison Kitsune and Kith, having a physical space because of this seamless and integrated part of a wider digital space. Whilst a majority of the views and sales happen digitally, the physical is physical and after working on this project remotely for over a year, nothing beats walking into that space and holding this finished product in your hand. Also with the digital space becoming so saturated, the physical almost becomes the differentiator whereas ten years ago you were special for doing things digitally, now the physical seems to set you apart again.
Are there similar projects in the pipeline? And what does this current project mean for Highsnobiety and you moving forward?
This idea of bringing together really high-quality digital content with really well-curated products and collaborations is something I think we at Highsnobiety have built a really strong skill set in over the years. Curating great quality and products for our community is something we do quite a lot these days and that’s why the Moncler project felt really natural to work on. We love working in this way and of course, we particularly love doing it with a brand such as Moncler. The truth is we do a lot f this sort of work for many brands in the background where myself and Highsnobiety are less on the frontline. We specialise in helping create these collaborations and special moments for brands whilst bringing the finished product to market and activating them. It’s really our bread and butter in many ways.
The beauty in Highsnobiety is that we are able to use these skills for ourselves whether it be our Dickies project or a Nike Running shoe but then we are also able to help other brands as either an equal partner or as a supporting partner in the background. This is all to say that this is the space that we feel very comfortable in and also enjoy working in very much. In the end, it’s all about having a really deep understanding of this community of ahead of the curve consumers and creating experiences, products and moments for that consumer that excites them.
You and I both know how hard it is to excite us. There is always so much going on so you really need to be on the pulse of what going on in order to understand what is going to gain traction and excite people. What’s exciting today isn’t the same as what’s exciting two years ago so having someone like us that has their thumb on the pulse of culture has become a necessity for big brands. For us, the brands we get to partner with is a dream come true, and there may be no better example of that than Moncler.