For many of us, success is often defined by a single career path. With the rise of “hustle culture” and the multi-hyphenate lifestyle, few embody this better than Pharrell Williams – singer, producer, fashion designer, entrepreneur, and now, the newly-appointed creative director of Louis Vuitton’s menswear.
In this thought piece, we’ll explore how Pharrell has gone from from musician to Louis Vuitton designer by examining the impact of his partnerships, personal branding, and innate polymathic nature. These three elements, coupled with his recent appointment to a top fashion house, serve as a testament to the strength of his multi-hyphenate mindset.
Pharrell Williams: Louis Vuitton’s new men’s creative director
Williams’ new position sees him continuing along the route that the late Virgil Abloh forged for the Louis Vuitton era of multi-hyphenate creative directors but it sparked questions around the fashion industry’s traditional expectations of a “designer.” While some have questioned his lack of formal design education, others see his experience and success as a music producer and fashion collaborator as valuable assets to the brand.
In a statement from Louis Vuitton , they have described Pharrell as a “visionary whose creative universes expand from music to art, and to fashion. The way in which he breaks boundaries across the various worlds he explores aligns with Louis Vuitton’s status as a cultural maison, reinforcing its values of innovation, pioneer spirit and entrepreneurship”.
Pharrell’s ability to transition seamlessly between different fields, including music and fashion, showcases his versatility and range of skills – which is now very valuable in today’s age. As he takes on this new role at Louis Vuitton, we learn the value of pursuing diverse creative endeavors, even if it means straying from the conventional path.
Pharrell – The Rise of the Multi-Hyphenate
Pharrell Williams began his career as a producer in the early 1990s and gained success in the early 2000s as he formed the hip-hop and R&B group, The Neptunes. In 2003, he released his debut solo album, “In My Mind,” which spawned the hit single “Frontin’.” Throughout his music and producer career, Williams has undoubtedly built a great reputation, known for his eclectic sound and his ability to blend genres, creating unique and memorable tracks.
Today, Pharrell Williams is a name that many of us associate with hit songs like “Happy” and “Get Lucky”, but amongst all of this, he is also a well-decorated entrepreneur with his fingers in many pies. He has worked with the likes of adidas, Uniqlo, G-STAR, Moncler, and Tiffany & Co. to create goods for every price range. He has even collaborated with Louis Vuitton before in 2008 – creating a line of sunglasses, re-issued by Abloh in 2018. Williams also launched his skincare range – ‘Humanrace’ in 2020.
1. Pharrell’s Partnerships
Pharrell wasn’t just making music in the early 2000s. Relationships and partnerships have played a significant role in his success as a musician and fashion icon. Nigo teamed up with Pharrell Williams in 2003 to create and launch the streetwear brands Billionaire Boys Club and Ice Cream footwear, which has become a cult favorite among fashion enthusiasts. He now co-owns the streetwear brand Human Made alongside Nigo, the creative director of Kenzo, and frequently sits in the front row at fashion weeks. The pair’s long-lasting partnership together shows the beauty of what can happen when you continue to foster relationships.
Since 2014, Pharrell has had a long-standing relationship with Adidas Originals, resulting in a successful collaboration that has produced multiple lines of sneakers, apparel, and accessories. This partnership has not only allowed Pharrell to express his creativity and personal style, but it has also strengthened his reputation as a tastemaker in the fashion industry. Additionally, his collaborations with other musicians and fashion brands, such as his work with Chanel and G-Star Raw, have further solidified his status as a versatile and influential figure in the creative world.
The importance of maintaining positive and productive relationships with others is evident in Pharrell’s career trajectory, as these partnerships have not only resulted in successful collaborations but also helped him build a strong reputation as a respected artist and designer.
2. Pharrell’s Personal Branding
Pharrell’s success also shows us the importance of having a strong personal brand. He’s built a career on his own unique vision and style, and he’s been able to bring that same level of creativity and innovation to all of his ventures. For us, this is a valuable lesson in the importance of authenticity and staying true to yourself as you navigate our own career paths.
What sets Pharrell apart as a multi-hyphenate is his ability to bring his unique vision and creativity to every project he takes on. Whether it’s a song, a piece of clothing, or a piece of furniture, he always brings his own distinct style and perspective. Pharrell has been able to achieve so much while staying true to himself and his values – a deeper definiton of success.
3. Pharrell’s Polymathy
Pharrell Williams’ success as a musician, producer, and designer can be attributed in part to his polymathy. Being a polymath in this world can give you an edge and help you see things that other people may miss.
Especially where the fashion is intimately entwined with music, art, and entertainment, crossovers are unavoidable. Consumers are currently noticing a change in the fashion business as it continues to include celebrities and other non-designers in key creative roles, such as Rihanna with her Fenty premium relationship with LVMH.
With his diversity of experiences in a variety of fields, such as music, art, design, and fashion, he provides a new perspective to an established brand like LV by understanding how consumers interact with and absorb information. Williams’ influence and reach may be just what the fashion house needs to maintain its sales in the post-Abloh era.
As a black man with strong interest in social justice, Pharrell’s experience and understanding of different cultures and communities allows him to bring a unique viewpoint to his designs, creating new opportunities for the brand to connect with a diverse audience. By embracing cross-industry and cultural knowledge in both music and fashion, Pharrell is bound to succeed in his new role at Louis Vuitton.
Overall, Pharrell Williams seems to be the ultimate multi-hyphenate who has seamlessly blended music, fashion, and entrepreneurship to create a brand that resonates with audiences across the globe. We look forward to seeing this first LV collection to be revealed in June 2024 during men’s fashion week in Paris.
If we embrace relationships and partnerships, personal branding and push the boundaries by seeking knowledge outside our industries and cultures, we can adopt that ‘multi-hyphenate” lifestyle – which is can be highly rewarding and fulfilling.
His story serves as an inspiration to anyone who wants to make their mark in the world. So, if you’re someone with big dreams and multiple interests, take a page out of Pharrell’s book and start exploring your own potential as a multi-passionate person on your own terms.
Who knows where it might take you?
Written by Anna-Marie, BLUP50 Member & Editor