WOMEN WHO DARE Rachel Mus­cat.

As global col­lab­o­ra­tions di­rec­tor of adi­das Orig­i­nals, Mel­bur­nian RACHEL MUS­CAT has cre­ative ge­niuses on standby. By GE­ORGINA SAFE

Harper’s Bazaar (Australia) - - Con­tents -

RACHEL MUS­CAT has to push her phone in­ter­view with BAZAAR back by 40 min­utes be­cause she’s stuck in Los An­ge­les’s no­to­ri­ous traf­fic af­ter a full day of meet­ings with Phar­rell wil­liams. “no mat­ter how many times I come here, I’m still bad at judg­ing the best time of day to catch a taxi or an Uber,” she apol­o­gises.

Mus­cat is in LA a lot. In her role as global col­lab­o­ra­tions di­rec­tor of adi­das Orig­i­nals, she has forged highly suc­cess­ful part­ner­ships with some of the city’s high­est-pro­file res­i­dents, in­clud­ing Phar­rell, Kanye West, fash­ion de­signer Jeremy Scott and Open­ing Cer­e­mony founders Carol Lim and Hum­berto Leon. with some of her most no­table re­cent projects in­clud­ing Phar­rell’s Su­per­color Su­per­star sneak­ers col­lec­tion and West’sy­eezy range, it’s no sur­prise Mus­cat is one of fash­ion’s most sought-af­ter fig­ures, with a pass­port that has al­most ev­ery coun­try stamp from around the globe. “I’m on the road ev­ery two weeks and that could be to any­where in the world,” she says. “i try to sleep on flights, but friends say ex­er­cise is also re­ally good for jet lag, so I’ll prob­a­bly try to find more time for that.”

It’s un­der­stand­able if Mus­cat hasn’t al­ways man­aged to find time. Based be­tween Port­land, Ore­gon, where adi­das has its North Amer­i­can head­quar­ters, and Her­zo­ge­nau­rach in Ger­many, the lo­ca­tion of the brand’s global HQ, she says her sched­ule stretches to par­tic­u­larly long hours to ac­com­mo­date the time dif­fer­ence. “If I’m in Ger­many, I have to work later to catch the LA and Port­land time zone, and if I’m in Port­land or LA I seem to al­ways be on a 7am con­fer­ence call with head of­fice,” she says.

Mus­cat’s globe-trot­ting ex­is­tence, rub­bing shoul­ders with some of the big­gest names in mu­sic and fash­ion (“It was Phar­rell’s birth­day ear­lier this week, so we made him some spe­cial shoes and gave him a birth­day cake”) is a world away from her up­bring­ing in Mel­bourne, where she grew up tag­ging along with her two older sis­ters, who had the streetwear brand Mytiko in the ’90s. “Be­ing around my sis­ters dur­ing the early ’90s rave and hip-hop cul­ture re­ally let me see a world not many get to see at such a young age,” she says. “I was only 12 years old, but watch­ing them de­sign and see­ing those mu­sic and fash­ion sub­cul­tures re­ally stuck with me.”

Mus­cat be­gan her ca­reer in marketing in Mel­bourne, where she worked for the 2006 Com­mon­wealth Games be­fore mov­ing to Hong Kong at 23, ap­ply­ing for a job with adi­das in 2007.“The adi­das job com­bined my ex­pe­ri­ence watch­ing my sis­ter’s fash­ion busi­ness with my ex­pe­ri­ence work­ing in sport for the Com­mon­wealth Games,” Mus­cat says. She rose swiftly through the ranks, lead­ing to her cur­rent role work­ing with the likes of Mary Ka­trant­zou and Palace skate­boards. De­spite the di­ver­sity of her part­ners, Mus­cat says the qual­i­ties she looks for in a col­lab­o­ra­tor are al­ways the same: “It’s about an au­then­tic re­la­tion­ship be­tween you and that part­ner, and be­ing able to bring some­thing fresh to the con­sumer and to the in­dus­try,” she says. “you have a re­spon­si­bil­ity to make sure that what you do is not just a cut-copy. you have to chal­lenge each other to do some­thing unique and in­ter­est­ing.”

Projects with Kanye and Phar­rell have been par­tic­u­lar high­lights. “kanye is a cre­ative ge­nius,” she as­serts, adding that Phar­rell’s strength lies in in­spir­ing and nur­tur­ing his col­leagues. “what Phar­rell is re­ally great at do­ing is bring­ing his team along for the jour­ney.” In 2015, adi­das launched Phar­rell’s 50-hue Su­per­color range and re­ported sales of more than $21.5 bil­lion, mak­ing the year its most prof­itable to date (2016 saw more growth) and Mus­cat one of the in­dus­try’s most in­flu­en­tial fig­ures. But street and youth cul­ture are ever-chang­ing, and Mus­cat says it’s cru­cial she never rests on her lau­rels. “it’s re­ally about lis­ten­ing to your net­work and the peo­ple you have around you,” she says of stay­ing on top of new trends. “I’m in the very for­tu­nate po­si­tion where my job al­lows me to have ac­cess to a lot of th­ese amaz­ing icons and fash­ion de­sign­ers, so you are con­stantly see­ing the in­sides of their worlds. But you also have to in­vest in your own cul­tural de­vel­op­ment, which for me means tak­ing in as many new ex­pe­ri­ences as pos­si­ble in the dif­fer­ent cities I travel to, as well as go­ing to lots of mu­se­ums and see­ing art.”

On a day-to-day ba­sis, Mus­cat’s role in­volves ev­ery­thing from meet­ings with man­age­ment, de­sign­ers and fac­to­ries to check­ing sam­ples then de­vis­ing sales strate­gies and de­cid­ing which city to launch a col­lec­tion in. “it’s ev­ery­thing from the start of the de­vel­op­ment process to fi­nally bring­ing those col­lec­tions to life,” she says.

For some­one with such an all-en­com­pass­ing role, it’s for­tu­nate that she prefers work/life bound­aries de­cid­edly blurred. “my work has be­come ... I don’t want to say my life, but more or less it has,” she says. “when you love what you do, you want to do it all the time.”

Rachel Mus­cat.

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