Streetsnaps: Mona Thomas and Her adidas Customization Project

When it comes to exaggerated silhouettes and bold color palettes, look no further than Mona Thomas. Her designs — through her label HUNI — have hit the radar of Ye and been embraced by the likes of trendsetters J Balvin and Lil Nas X, with her reimagined pieces pushing the boundaries of what’s considered the norm.

As her work transcends barriers and forms, she translates her larger-than-life aesthetic, mostly inspired by Y2K futurism, into a variety of mediums such as fashion, accessories, game consoles, and furniture, and shows no sign of stopping her craft from expanding into even more untapped disciplines.

With the nail-biting EURO 2024 currently in full effect and held in her home country, Hypebeast catches up with the designer in Frankfurt ahead of her latest customization initiative with German sportswear and lifestyle giants adidas to discuss inspirations, challenges, football, and more.

Hypebeast: What was your entrance into the world of design?

Mona Thomas: Being inspired by everything I saw on TV and the internet when I was a kid, then in my teenage years, I spent a lot of time on Tumblr. By watching hip-hop performances and new music videos on YouTube and watching cartoons, I always wondered what it was like behind the scenes of pop culture and asked myself: Who are the people creating all of this art that I’m consuming?

Your designs are bold — what inspired the extravagant futuristic aesthetic?

When I tell you what things I used to obsess over as a kid, you can see where that aesthetic comes from. I used to want to become an astronaut because I had watched Apollo 13. But really, I just loved the space suits and the interior of a space shuttle, so I would sketch the outfits and dress up as an astronaut. I also loved the Teletubbies – from the TV screen on their belly to the little nubs on the bottom of their feet and their home interior is insane. Those things definitely had an influence on my aesthetic.

What made you start your brand HUNI?

Sometime after high school, my goal was to find a job in the creative field and the only way to get the right people’s attention was to create stuff and post on social media. I started working on my portfolio, creating visuals, logos, fictional products, and fictional brands. One of these fictional brand ideas was HUNI, what I would later turn into my real brand. No one in my family had ever started an actual business nor had any idea about the legal aspects of it. it was scary at first and I still sometimes feel like I don’t know what the hell I’m actually doing. But it’s been the greatest joy in my life.

Your work transcends disciplines with each one being unique — what does the future look like for the brand? What medium would you like to work on next?

I feel like we are just getting started. I have always used the tools that I had access to, which is why my possibilities to create have been quite limited. Not having reliable manufacturers in my network has definitely been an obstacle. It held me back from releasing work for years and creating to my full potential. But we are working hard to change that. My dream is to one day have access to better textile workshops and factories and explore different techniques and materials.

Break down today’s outfit.

I’m wearing a sample of one of my unreleased T-shirts, a blue adidas Firebird track jacket, wide-legged adidas joggers, and a pair of adidas Spezial sneakers.

Favorite piece and why?

I love dressing comfortably, and at the moment, I can’t stop wearing these track jackets. They’re timeless.

What was the creative process behind your customization initiative with adidas?

When adidas asked me to work on this project, I started collecting ideas and developing a concept. It always takes some time for me to come up with ideas. When you’re working on a customization project, the biggest challenge is to not make it look lazy. I want to use every opportunity I get to create exciting things that can inspire, so I knew I would put the focus on the artistic execution of the shoot.

Key inspirations behind the designs?

English footballers from the ‘80s, ‘90s and early 2000s. But in general, every footballer has a different style and I like that within a team they’re all wearing the same jerseys but they’re still wearing it in their own way and have their own sense of style.

How did you merge HUNI’s vibe with adidas’ heritage?

My signature design element is the Huni curve. I first introduced that when I released my first hoodie. adidas’ signature design element is the three stripes so the best way to merge these elements is to design a three-striped curve.

What’s the main custom piece?

The iconic Beckenbauer jacket was the main garment we created the looks around.

Favorite design in the range?

The predators with the spikes.

The EURO’s are currently being held in your home country. What are your best football memories?

I was still a kid, but I have the best memories of the World Cup in 2006 that was held in Germany. I remember the entire country being euphoric and it was extremely infectious, especially that Germany vs Argentina game. That penalty shoot-out made me want to become a goalkeeper. Thinking about it now, it was really just the design of the jerseys that was speaking to me.

Stay tuned for more from adidas’ partnership on the brand’s website.

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