Decoding a Pop Culture Legend: Pharrell Williams

The style icon says his ingredients for success are quite simple

(Image: File)
(Image: File)

Pharrell Williams is a legendary hit-maker and collaborator at the intersection of music and fashion. In addition to his collaborations with Robin Thicke, Jay-Z, Gwen Stefani, and others, he has inspired people around the world to take center stage and produce their own versions of his megahit “Happy,” a triple platinum song that has sold 1.8 million copies. And, as a co-founder of two high quality streetwear brands, Billionaire Boys Club and Iceream, he regularly guest-designs for companies such as Gap, Timberland, Topshop, and Moncler.

Noted as a style icon and mainstay of best-dressed lists published by GQ, Esquire and Vanity Fair, Williams says his ingredients for success are quite simple: “Most anything I do, I do because it involves someone I can learn from. Sometimes you just gotta put your pride aside and be quiet so that you can absorb not only what a person is saying but how they are saying it—their energy, their body language. It’s all for a reason,” he said in an interview with Fast Company magazine.

Although grounded in music, Williams has also successfully expanded his brand into philanthropy, technology, furniture design, and textile manufacturing. In June 2014, the 41-year-old Virginia Beach native earned $22 million, according to Forbes. He has a four-year partnership with Bionic Yarn, which manufactures fabric out of fibers made from discarded plastic bottles. The partnership has been profitable because Williams encourages the brands he designs for to use the fabric. He’s also collaborated with Louis Vuitton; co-founded UJAM, a cloud-based music creation and production platform; and he’s dabbled in furniture design with Domeau & Pérès and Galerie Emmanuel Perrotin. He recently launched “Tennis Pack,” a sneaker collaboration with Adidas. Although his entrepreneurial pursuits are broad, Williams’s ventures have helped to propel him to global stardom.

In addition to his long list of titles and accomplishments, he is the founder of “From One Hand to AnOTHER,” an organization that helps kids ages 7 to 20 meet their potential though music, technology, art and motivation. His YouTube channel, i am Other, is a cultural movement dedicated to Thinkers, Innovators and Outcasts. It has more than 1 million subscribers and 600 million views.

It’s tempting to think that Williams’s success is due to his financial investments  in everything from fashion to technology. But his real driver of success is his ability to remain humble and true to himself. As he eloquently said in an interview with BBC, “You have the best style in the world when your style is your own style.”

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