Joseph Au Talks 20 Years of Billionaire Boys Club
Billionaire Boys Club helped shape the streetwear market into what it is today and is still a leading force in the sector as it celebrates its 20th anniversary this year.
The brand has evolved greatly since Pharrell Williams and Nigo joined forces in 2003 to launch the line. Over the past two decades, Billionaire Boys Club has birthed other brands — Ice Cream, Bee Line and Billionaire Girls Club — and embarked on several major partnerships with the likes of Reebok and Timberland, among others. Since 2018, the brand has been helmed by creative director Joseph Au, who has been a fan of Billionaire Boys Club since its inception.
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“When I was in high school, I was super into hip-hop, sneakers and streetwear, so Pharrell was a really big influence on my upbringing,” Au said. “I specifically remember going to [the Billionaire Boys Club store] in Hong Kong and just being floored. It’s a three-story building and the exterior is basically a rocket ship. I still remember that being one of the most impactful experiences that I’ve ever had.”
Au stated he believes the brand has been able to resonate in the streetwear market for the last 20 years because it has stuck to its core design elements, such as its popular astronaut logo, and its mantra of “Wealth is of the heart and mind. Not of the pocket” to create coveted pieces that have sustained the brand’s cult following.
The brand’s long-term partnerships have also helped it remain competitive. In addition to Reebok and Timberland, Billionaire Boys Club has collaborated with artists such as Michael Kagan and Takashi Murakami.
Au also highlighted Billionaire Boys Clubs’ collaboration with the New York Yankees last year as “unexpected, but really successful.” The collaboration merged the Billionaire Boys Club and Yankees logos for apparel and accessories.
“There’s still a core DNA that we are rooted in, especially our core club logo and our Billionaire Boys Club logo. We have a repertoire of logos that we stay true to,” he explained. “Then with our designs, we’ve moved forward into different cuts, color palettes and art styles that we feel like resonates with our core customer. We want to be able to reach new customers as well as being able to stay true to our core identity for our core fans, so we try to have a little bit for everyone.”
Billionaire Boys Club is homing in on its popular logo as one of its initiatives to celebrate the brand’s 20th anniversary. On Thursday, Billionaire Boys Club will release merchandise with a reimagined logo that shows the astronaut character face illustrated to form the number 20. The anniversary logo will be displayed on the brand’s website, which is also showcasing an immersive 20-year timeline.
In a statement on the brand’s anniversary, Williams said: “It’s amazing that we’ve continued to evolve and inspire and create all these years and still remain true to the brand. I get so much inspiration from the world and amazing artists around me and that’s what has fueled a lot of our designs and collections. My eternal thanks to our community of creatives and those who have supported BBC for the last 20 years.”
Billionaire Boys Club’s 20th anniversary also coincides with the 50th anniversary of hip-hop. Au explained that hip-hop has always played a large role in the brand, considering Williams’ musical background and how he debuted the brand in his 2003 music video for “Frontin’.”
“Music in general has influenced the brand,” Au said. “More specifically, the thing with hip-hop is it’s a lot about aspirations and the words spoken are always somewhat prophetic. I think clothing sort of allows that as well. You can wear something and you can become someone else or express your identity. The way that hip-hop expresses individuality and aspirations, speaking truth into reality or aspirations into reality — I think the brand does that. It’s almost like a great synergy.”
Even though the streetwear market has grown tremendously in the last 20 years, Au contends Billionaire Boys Club is still leading the pack because of the foundation created by Williams and Nigo.
“I really feel like we were the originators and the blueprint for what a lot of brands are doing now,” he said. “Even though we’re turning 20, it’s a tremendous milestone and we just continue to inspire. We continue to influence brands around us. I would say we’re just so rooted in the core that we’re going to be here for another 20, 30, 40 plus years. I think Billionaire Boys Club is really eternal and timeless.”
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