Whatever Pharrell Williams wears, the world takes note. “Fashion had to be the hardest high school I ever entered. At least I had a big brother,” without who “there would be no me, no A$AP” Kanye West told the Council of Fashion Designers of America in 2015. Kanye was presenting the Fashion Icon award that night to his friend and “style idol” Pharrell Williams. Half a decade later and Pharrell is still reinventing what it means to be stylish in hip hop. Join us below on a journey through the many trends he has set over the last 20 years, and how they may have influenced today’s streetwear and your wardrobe.
The early 2000s
This period saw Pharrell bring trucker hats and shearling jackets to an industry where the uniform at the time was the (in)famous baggy jeans-and-tee combination. Pharrell was setting the foundations for an era where hip-hop artists would become key players on the red carpet. The shearling jacket is worn today as a stylish addition to an otherwise grungy outfit to achieve a classy autumn-streetwear look.
After visiting Japan for the first time Pharrell brought back the bright colors, loud graphics, all-over prints and camo patterns of street style he saw and fell in love with there, as can be seen below. Having grown up a skilled skateboarder, he worked with Japanese brand BAPE’s founder Nigo to establish two skatewear-inspired brands, fusing Harajuku, skater and hip-hop fashion together for a permanent altering of the urban fashion landscape. These days, all-over prints are smaller-detailed and can be seen on jackets, trousers or shirts. Use to balance an otherwise minimal black-based outfit for a street-ready look.
While we cannot say for certain that we would wear it now, the skate-inspired BAPE sneakers coupled with the loud colours and all-over print were certainly important experiments that Pharrell would later draw from in a more artful manner.
The late 2000s
Do you have a pair of skinny jeans in your closet? Chances are you do – more than one probably – and chances are you have Pharrell to thank. While it is a wardrobe basic today, Pharrell was instrumental in introducing slimmer silhouettes into hip-hop and therefore urban fashion. Below Pharrell is seen sporting slim jeans in 2008 – way before it hit the mainstream in 2010-2011.
Also visible above and below are some Vans, another unexplored element in hip-hop fashion at the time. The multi-Grammy winner pairs them with the slim jeans, plastic-framed glasses and a tailored shirt for a nerdy ensemble that was ahead of its time. The camo boxers seem to be a favorite.
The early 2010s
Pharrell rapidly evolved his style over this era to create the “rap hipster” look. This does not center on one particular item of clothing but rather pulls from a menu of plaid or all-over print shirts, Panama/boater/trilby hats, chino shorts (Pharrell keeps his camo but has upgraded it to a more tasteful palette below) and accessories like bow-ties. The result is a jazzier take on streetwear that is still popular, and evolving, to this day.
Another look at the style, the coziness of the grey cardigan and the edginess of his Dr. Martens working perfectly with the longline tee look taken from hip-hop fashion.
The mid to late 2010s
Through these years Pharrell collaborated on a series of projects with Karl Lagerfeld of Chanel to reframe fashion as genderless, starting with being the first male model to feature in a handbag ad for Chanel to designing his own unisex capsule collection with the brand, released last year. One such collaboration saw him walk the runway at the 2016 Chanel Métiers d'Art show wearing a tweed Chanel jacket and pearl necklace combination as seen below. The layering of dark navy cardigan and grey suit trousers perfectly offsets the dazzling coat.
And a glance at the previously mentioned Chanel Pharrell collection shows the multitalented artist and creative genius design and wear a bright yellow unisex hoodie with cropped trousers for a casual but chic vibe. Coincidentally launched first in Seoul, this outfit mirrors what has proven to be a popular look in Korean streetwear owing to its laidback and unisex style.
Pharrell’s effortless cool has never been bound by the limits of time (just like his face, it seems). We could go on forever about all the other trends he has either merged, reinvented or outright created over the years. However, there is one vital style overarching throughout it all that he has introduced hip-hop and consequently today’s urban wardrobes to – authenticity. Pharrell always has, and always will, dress like Pharrell. In an interview last year with GQ, he says “When you listen to yourself and you're comfortable in who you are, you wear what you feel like fits and looks right on you. And that's it.” Fashion’s been a hard school, but Pharrell’s been a great teacher.
If you are interested in similar items of clothing as described above, please scroll down the to 'Related Products' section of this article, or take a look at our product catalog. Our nightcity grows with every inhabitant - follow us on Instagram and Facebook to find out where we're headed, as well as for discounts and offers!