Pharrell hits the streets with Uniqlo collaboration


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Hollywood’s never-aging everyman Pharrell Williams has certainly kept himself busy these past two years. Last year, he was featured on two singles, “Get Lucky” and “Blurred Lines,” both of which reached No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100.

Williams’ success has continued to follow him into this year with the release of his new album G I R L — featuring his single “Happy,” which gained the artist a spot at No. 1 for the first time as a lead artist —and the announcement of his newfound position as a judge on NBC’s “The Voice.” It doesn’t hurt that he also sold one of his Vivienne Westwood hats to Arby’s for $44,100, which went to One Hand to AnOTHER, his nonprofit organization that supports learning programs for underprivileged youth.

Williams isn’t finished yet. As would be expected from his status as a style icon and philanthropist, he has teamed up with Japanese clothing retailer Uniqlo to release a collaborative collection that promotes i am OTHER, a multimedia collective that serves as a link between all of his different projects, including Billionaire Boys Club, his decade-old clothing line, and From One Hand to AnOTHER.

I am OTHER was established in 2012 and has its own YouTube channel. The producers of the channel work to showcase and bring attention to the different parts of culture present in fashion, music and art. The subject matter of the videos range from exposing social issues to featuring unique artists whose work pushes the boundaries of their respective fields.

Uniqlo, known for its fast growth and affordable high-street clothing, released their i am OTHER line online Tuesday. It will come out in stores sometime next week. There are two Uniqlo stores in San Francisco, one near the Westfield Mall and the other in the Stonestown Galleria Mall.

The Pharrell x Uniqlo line features a wide range of graphic tees and patterned hats that are all priced under $20. The shirts’ patterns follow modern trends, such as colorblock and camo, and the hats have classic gingham and houndstooth prints. The collection’s color scheme centers around neutral tones of black, white, navy and khaki.

“It delivers a really good message in terms of what apparel could be — in terms of the high quality (of the shirts),” Williams said in a video about the collaboration, which is on Uniqlo’s YouTube channel.

This collaboration is an effective way for Pharrell to promote i am OTHER, and in cases similar to this, celebrities and the brands that they work with will often slap their names on the line in hopes of using that to gain sales instead of focusing on the quality and trendiness of the piece.

But Williams does a good job of not overstating his advocacy of the collective. The pieces display messages like “Think other” and “The Same is Lame” that encourage innovation in a way that brings attention to his cause without being garish or obnoxious.

Celebrities have proven that they are capable of entering the design part of the fashion world; Victoria Beckham, Mary Kate and Ashley Olsen and Jay-Z have all garnered immense success with their sartorial endeavors. The common denominator of the successful intermingling between the fashion realm and that of others is the ability to utilize and set trends that enable their lines to succeed rather than simply name-dropping to market their collaborations.

In this case, Williams’ daring to challenge fashion norms, his dedication to quality and his attentiveness to streetwear trends will only prove to aid him with his collaboration with Uniqlo, as well as any pursuits he’ll take up regarding fashion.

Contact Josh Gu at [email protected].