Singer, songwriter, rapper, producer, designer, and philanthropist Pharrell Williams is adding another title to his list: Louis Vuitton’s Men’s Creative Director.
After the passing of the late Virgil Abloh, the fashion world has sat in anticipation for the announcement of the new head of the storied fashion house.
Williams, the founder of Billionaire Boys Club and Ice Cream footwear, is no stranger to the fashion scene, but Louis Vuitton definitely caught many by surprise when they named the “Happy” singer as the successor to the massively influential Virgil Abloh.
But what if Pharrell Williams is the perfect choice?
Hip-Hop Culture is Culture
Louis Vuitton, an institution that’s been around since 1854, has been able to maintain relevancy through decades and numerous fashion trends that have come and gone. Louis Vuitton, whether it be through an iconic Messi and Ronaldo photograph at the height of their fame or their strategic store locations in cities such as London and New York, has always understood that their relevancy is tied to being visible in culture.
Under Virgil Abloh, Louis Vuitton realized that hip-hop is culture. Louis Vuitton, after the announcement of Virgil as its head of creative, benefited from countless mentions in lyrics and unpaid endorsements from all your favorite rappers. The fashion house, with its choice of Virgil, had tied itself to the most relevant thing in culture: hip-hop. The biggest music genre and something that has become synonymous with culture, hip-hop is able to galvanize multiple consumer bases with its pure relevancy in society and its massive reach through its multiple stars. With its alignment with hip-hop, Louis Vuitton experienced firsthand the power of the Black Dollar, the same power that is reportedly causing Adidas to lose billions after severing its ties to another hip-hop giant, Kanye West.
Major fashion houses have reeled over the impact of the Black Dollar on their bottom line. Whether it be Gucci with its backlash from their “Blackface” sweater or Balenciaga receiving heat for appropriating sagging, a style popularized by hip-hop, fashion houses have understood the galvanization of the Black Dollar can shake their P&L.
Pharrell is the Perfect Choice
When we understand the importance of hip-hop to Louis Vuitton, we understand that Pharrell Williams, with his massive reach in hip-hop, is the perfect choice for the brand. When we think about mainstream hip-hop fashion icons, there are a few names that come to mind: Rihanna, Kanye, ASAP Rocky, Tyler the Creator. One is spoken for by her own fashion conglomerate; the other is marred by controversy; and the other two just do not have the mainstream reach that Pharrell brings to the table.
Pharrell Williams has never been afraid to experiment with womenswear style and colors since his debut. His style has always been unique and distinct, which aligns with where the fashion brand signaled it was headed with its most recent runway show in Paris, which was directed by KidSuper’s Colm Dillane. The fashion show signaled vibrant colors and fluidity of gender styles, which coincide with Pharrell’s personal style over the last two decades. Pharrell has a track record of transforming brands that are inextricably linked to hip-hop culture, having transformed brands such as Bape and Billionaire Boys Club from upstart fashion brands to cultural mainstays; now he hopes to do the same with Louis Vuitton.
What to expect?
You’re probably wondering what this means for me as a designer or creative?
Buckle up and find colors.
Look to Tyler the Creator and Pharrell’s personal styles as an indicator of where Louis Vuitton is positioning its brand for the near future. Expect bold colors, vibrant fabrics, and a focus on fashion fluidity from the dominant fashion brand.
When positioning your brand in this tricky time in fashion, look at blanks with colors like the IND5000, which comes in powder pink, and LA Apparel’s 1801GD with its mauve and coral tees.
Next time before you make a design or product, go watch the most recent music video from your favorite rapper, who knows, it might just tell you exactly where fashion is.