Twenty years ago, the streetwear brand Billionaire Boys Club was started by musician Pharrell Williams and Japanese designer Nigo, who also founded A Bathing Ape. The following two decades saw the transformation of both the brand and the streetwear subculture as a whole from underground cult favorites to dominant forces in fashion. This culminated in the appointment of both of the brand’s co-founders to the heads of major European luxury houses — Nigo at Kenzo, as of January 2022, and Pharrell at Louis Vuitton last month.
Joseph Au, creative director of Billionaire Boys Club, said that, while the brand has grown, he’s focused on keeping it aesthetically close to its roots.
“I’ve been here five years now, and the growth has been massive,” he said. “We’re bigger than we’ve ever been. We have offices in Japan, Hong Kong, London and New York. But the initial plans for the brand by Nigo and Pharrell are still there and still guiding what I do every day.” That includes approaching every new design and collaboration with the same two guidelines: Merge Japanese and American design sensibilities, and pull inspiration from classic workwear.
The brand declined to share current revenue figures. The most recent figures from 2017 put the brand at around $30 million in annual revenue. Its collaborations with big names like Reebok, Timberland and the New York Yankees have proven incredibly popular.
For its 20th anniversary, the brand is leaning on its long heritage. That includes releasing products with a new logo featuring BBC’s iconic astronaut image made of stars to form the number 20. The first collection to feature this logo launched at the end of March, and more are planned throughout the year. All will be collected at the end of the year into a big BBC20 collection.
Au said he expects Pharrell’s lofty new position at Louis Vuitton will have a halo effect on BBC.
“Pharrell was just appointed, but there will be a positive impact, for sure,” he said. “There are a lot of eyes on us right now, looking back at the things he did, the collections he designed. I hope a lot of people will discover or rediscover our brand through him.”
Pharrell’s stature in both the fashion industry and pop culture, in general, is a valuable asset to any brand associated with him, according to designer Joey Keefer. Pharrell lends his name, likeness and design chops to a number of brands and companies outside of Louis Vuitton and Billionaire Boys Club. That includes his skin-care brand, Humanrace; his auction site, Joopiter; and frequent collaborations with companies including Adidas, Uniqlo and Moncler.
“The cultural weight that Pharrell brings is such an effective marketing tool,” Keefer said.