Collaboration Begets Collaboration
BBCICECREAM X JOOPITER
There is an interesting dynamic between American and Japanese subculture. It is often a revolving door with Americana entering and reemerging out the otherside in an improved, refined interpretation. American car culture, food, music, sports and especially fashion have all been reimagined and enhanced through the endearingly obsessive nature of Japan.
When Japanese designer, collector and influencer Nigo introduced his A Bathing Ape brand to Japan in 1993, it reflected American Streetwear’s irreverence and intention, interpreted through Japan’s meticulous attention to detail and celebration of aesthetic. It was innovation, homage and commentary all in one. Nigo was obsessed with American icons from art, to fashion, to film and of course music, which were all reflected in his brand.
Unsurprisingly, Nigo was fascinated with a Hip Hop phenomenon whose sound dominated the charts, clubs, mixtapes and streets of the early aughts—Pharrell Williams. Nigo’s adoration of Pharrell even led him to Jacob The Jeweler, who was designing and producing Pharrell’s legendary jewelry at the time. Nigo would commission Jacob to produce pieces similar to Pharrell’s, in an attempt to capture some of Pharrell’s captivating swagger. Eventually Jacob introduced the two, which initiated an immediate friendship and creative partnership.
In 2003, Pharrell and Nigo launched the Billionaire Boys Club brand. Unlike the original Billionaire Boys Club (privileged 1980s rich kids, Ponzi schemes, loose morals, blah blah blah) that inspired the brand’s name, Pharrell and Nigo’s BBC was a celebration of wealth of the heart and mind, rather than the pocket. It was a beautiful fusion of two creative savants and an organic full circle moment of Japan paying homage to America paying homage to Japan. It came at a time when Streetwear was starting to be recognized as an imperative component of the fashion conversation, rather than a footnote, and it occupied an often pursued, but rarely achieved sweet spot somewhere between the pages of GQ and XXL. At the same time that Streetwear was permeating pop culture, it still maintained some blurry borders between Black, white, skate, Hip Hop, Punk, street, couture, urban and suburban subcultures. BBC decimated those distinctions and democratized Streetwear
Between Nigo’s existing A Bathing Ape fanbase and Pharrell’s galactic stardom, the BBC brand commanded the early aughts Streetwear conversation. Constant mentions by Hip Hop royalty, a roster of celebrity fans and a perfect balance of traditional and avant garde styling positioned BBC at the top of the list. The distinctive BBC Astronaut logo made guest appearances in most Pharrell-related music videos and—In a full circle synergistic Jacob The Jeweler moment—was even immortalized in obscene amounts of gold and diamonds adorning Pharrell and Nigo’s necks.
On the heels of their success, Pharrell and Nigo spun a skate brand (and team) out of BBC. ICECREAM was served up in 2006 with an eccentric color palette of apparel, footwear (in partnership with Reebok) and personality. The ICECREAM brand and team again redefined, blurred the lines and demanded a reconsideration of the culture of skateboarding. Skateboard P had a skate brand and it was as genre defying as he was.
The cultural impact and stylistic significance of BBC cannot be understated. The brand itself is in fact overstated by design and it continues to carry a torch for new generations of defiant Streetwear and genre shapeshifting. While BBC represents the inception of an iconic partnership, it also represents a catalyst. Both collaboratively and independently, Nigo and Pharrell have gone on to dominate every other creative project that they’ve laid hands on. From countless Pharrell Williams couture collabs to Nigo’s recent appointment as Artistic Director of Kenzo and from Human Made to the I know Nigo! music project, the DNA of BBC and ICECREAM (now known as BBCICECREAM) permeate all of their endeavors.
As Billionaire Boys Club embarks on its 20th year as a brand, with a legacy of innovation, a global retail presence and a consistently growing fanbase, it is fitting that we welcome this special BBCICECREAM X JOOPITER collaboration. It represents the infinite loop of Pharrell’s creative vision. As one door opens, another remains open. Collaboration begets collaboration. Homage paying homage. Game reconcile game.