Size and fit

Pharrell Williams x Adidas NMD Human Race kicks are unisex kicks, which rely on a unique cage lacing system to secure them to the feet. The rope laces can be inserted anywhere in the more than a dozen holes in the TPU cages at the sides for a personalized fit. 

The uppers of the shoes are made of thick knit fabrics but are stretchy enough to accommodate various foot width sizes. The lego-looking blocks at the midsoles provide not just a design accent but also stability to the shoes.

Adidas Pharrell Williams Human Race NMD Style

Confidence is key and rocking these kicks relies much on how you carry yourself. One of the shoes’ defining characteristics is their adept use of color, so don’t be afraid to experiment. Whether contrasting or blending with the shades of your clothing, the sneakers are meant to stand out.

With the vibrant tones of Pharrell Williams x Adidas Human Race NMDs’ colors, you can opt for low-key shades for your clothing if you mean the focus to stay on your kicks. Pharrell usually dons the shoes with super casual outfits such as ripped jeans, statement tees, and interestingly-patterned jackets. Tracksuits or the usual pairing of sweatshirts and joggers would do as well.

If you need something a little more “dressy,” a short skirt with ruffles paired with a cotton top might do the trick. For men, black trouser pants, a solid-black tee, and an overcoat in the same inky black shade would up the style ante.

Notable Features

Expert use of color and the cultural positivity messages set these kicks apart. Pharrell’s name carries some weight, but that will only go so far without heavy creative genius to back it up. The shoes are also very much distinctive from other silhouettes. One look and you’d know they’re Hu shoes.

As NMD kicks, these low-top Adidas Originals shoes carry the highly-touted Boost midsoles that give users a responsive ride. The Boost tech provides a high-energy return for wearers (reportedly the highest of any running shoe) courtesy of the small energy capsules that make up the Boost cushioning system.

The Primeknit material that makes up the uppers also deserves some recognition. They keep the shoes lightweight while delivering a sock-like fit for users. They don’t crease and are easily collapsible, making these cool go-to shoes for avid travelers who are on their feet all day.

Adidas Pharrell Williams Human Race NMD History

Popular songwriter, rapper, singer, and film and record producer Pharrell Williams has been into designing since 2005. In 2014, he signed a long-term partnership deal with Adidas, which resulted in attention-grabbing kicks such as the Pharrell Williams x Adidas Stan Smith Small Polka Dots and Pharrell Williams x Adidas Superstar Supercolor Pack.

Pharrell’s work on the classic Adidas Stan Smith was a fun play. He covered the shoes in small, red polka dots resulting in a model that is somehow edgy yet whimsical. For the Superstar collab, Pharrell dressed the iconic silhouette in a dizzying array of monochromatic colors—50 to be exact. Several shades of yellow, green, red, and blue abounded, making it difficult for the ordinary sneaker lover to collect them all.

While these releases were notable in themselves, it was the Hu line that truly cemented the Adidas and Pharrell partnership and made Williams’ name synonymous in the public’s mind with the phrase “shoe genius.”

  Adidas Originals NMD Human Race

Two years after signing up with Adidas, the brand and Pharrell came out with the “Hu” line in July. Although some people argue that the Hu here is supposed to stand for the human element in the periodic table, it actually stands for “Health Ultimatum.” It’s also supposed to denote people of different skin colors (hue) because the sneakers are meant for everyone of every race.

The first release of the Pharrell Williams Adidas Human Race line is mostly inspired by the culture of the Native Americans in North Dakota, specifically the MHA Nation. The collection’s main theme was about people from all walks of life and culture coming together and understanding each other.

The 2016 collection featured one vibrant yellow colorway with words in black saying ‘Human’ on the right foot and ‘Race’ on the left. This silhouette was built based on Adidas’ NMD model and featured the same NMD soles. The sneakers also had very thick Primeknit uppers and a unique lacing system that utilized TPU cages. 

The first Hu shoes were a limited edition release, but the Pharrell Williams Adidas Human Race debut was quickly followed up by a second wave, which debuted in September of that same year. Five shades launched this time: green, scarlet, tangerine, black, and light blue.

Each of the colorways contained different callouts. The blue ones read “Human” and “Being.” the tangerine shades read “Hue” and “Man.” University Red colorways featured the words”Hu” and “Race” while the version with the matte black uppers contained the words “Human” and “Species” on them. Perhaps the most striking in the batch is the version in green. Instead of words, the shoes showed triangles on the uppers containing the words “Hu,” looking very much like a symbol from the periodic table of elements.

  Adidas NMD Friends and Family Release

In February of 2017, a very limited edition of the Pharrell Williams x Adidas Human Race NMD shoes came out, which were not sold in retail stores. The Friends and Family iteration was done up in magenta and had white Chinese characters on the uppers, which when translated to English, spelled out “Human Race.” These are highly sought after, and upon last checking, was retailing for around $5,000, although a few have been sold for much higher.

Additional Info

  • The heel tabs contain Pharrell’s equal sign on the left and a rainbow-colored Trefoil logo on the right.
  • The shoes are regularly spotted on the feet of high-profile celebrities such as Ellen DeGeneres, Justin Bieber, and Jaden Smith.


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Danny McLoughlin
Danny McLoughlin

Danny is a sports nut with a particular interest in football and running. He loves to watch sports as much as he loves to play. Danny was lead researcher on RunRepeat and The PFA’s report into Racial Bias in Football Commentary. His football and running research has been featured in The Guardian, BBC, New York Times and Washington Post.