Will.i.am and his brother, Carl Gilliam, the duo behind sneaker brand MCCVIII, hosted a dinner at Mr. Chow in London to mark the launch of the label at Harrods, with guests Julien Macdonald, Nicole Scherzinger, Oliver Cheshire, Pixie Lott and Melissa Odabash.
The brothers debuted their line last year at Liberty. Made in Italy, it’s a riff on the classic Clarks Wallabee. There’s a high-top, a low-top and a high-top with an 18K gold-plated brass panel on the tongue that bears the brand’s name.
Before guests sat down to a Chinese family-style meal, Will.i.am talked about the brand — and his family. “Nowadays, if you’re a celebrity, you lend your name to big brands, and it’s a licensing thing,” he said. “Very rarely does someone go out, find awesome factories to work with, find great leather suppliers, get your hands dirty, invest your money and time to get things done as if that is magical. That’s just normal. But celebrities are so pampered that they think the only way to get it done is to align with a big company. You get a check and loan your name. So when my brother said he wanted to do shoes, I wanted to get our hands dirty together the way we did when we started projects. When we were together, we got our hands dirty.”
“I learned a lot from my big brother,” he continued. “And he always designed when we were growing up, he always tapered his pants. And I wanted to be just like my big brother. I still want to be like my big brother, despite how shy he is in front of people. I’m really proud of my brother for going out to Portugal, finding an awesome factory and finding great leather suppliers.”
He also shared a few anecdotes about Gilliam and his mother. “My mom taught us to take pride in how we go to school. ‘Don’t go to school with your play clothes on — I’m sending you to school to learn,’ [she would say]. So she kept us out of harm’s way when we were in the ghetto there. Our dreams and our passions as well kept us out of joining a gang.”
Cheshire, who arrived with his girlfriend, Lott, recently returned from touring Italy and working on his newly launched website “I Wear The Trousers,” which is focused on his lifestyle. “It’s getting really good traction and a lot of hits,” said Cheshire.