Thanks to a particularly eye-catching hat, Pharrell Williams is in the midst of another fashion moment – so it makes sense for him to capitalise on it. His collaboration with Adidas – announced today – shows him doing just that. A range with the sportswear brand is due out in the summer.
Williams is no stranger to fashion, but he has always dabbled in the industry in his own way – an attitude that tallies with his work in music, really. He launched Ice Cream, a streetwear brand, in 2005, working with Japanese streetwear label, A Bathing Ape, and its founder Nigo. All cute cartoon logos and Americana references, it fitted with the logo-loving, kidult mood of the mid-noughties.
While images of the Adidas collection are yet to be revealed, we’d bet they’re a bit more grownup. In his statement, Williams referenced Adidas classics such as Stan Smiths and the three-stripe tracksuit. He has also brought in his excellently named company, Bionic Yarn, which uses plastic debris from the ocean to make fabric – Williams is creative director. Bionic Yarn’s recycled materials will be used for some of the Adidas pieces.
Adidas is clearly making a play to become the top dog in the sportswear-meets-streetwear market – wrestling the crown from its arch rival Nike, which is still the bestselling sportswear brand. Today’s announcement follows the news, late last year, that Kanye West had moved from Nike to Adidas. This is a big deal – West’s Nike designs sold out in 11 minutes when they were released, with one pair of shoes warranting a £10m listing on eBay.
No matter what you think of West’s catwalk outings, which, with bad fits and dodgy fabrics, prompted storied critic Suzy Menkes to suggest he shouldn’t give up the day job, these two have a fashion pedigree. They both know fashion and what they wear is watched with interest. But musicians don’t always make the best designers. Madonna’s HM collaboration was hardly her finest work, and a range of T-shirts from the Arctic Monkeys’ Matt Helders didn’t set the world alight either. The key is making sure the apple doesn’t fall too far from the tree. Liam Gallagher’s Pretty Green label isn’t high fashion, but it has that slightly lairy rockn’roll Brit thing that the singer is known for. Rihanna’s River Island collection went for the same idea – it was all crop tops and logos, the sort of thing you might see the singer wearing on her Instagram feed. Adidas’ success with West and Williams will depend on sticking to this formula. We’ll have to wait till later this year to find out if they have cracked it.