The origins of Pharrell Williams’ 1-year-old brand, Humanrace, began not with skin care, but with a sneaker.
Prior to the buzz-generating launch of his skin-care line last year, Williams first used the term “Humanrace” to label a special-edition Adidas sneaker released at ComplexCon in 2016.
But while he was meeting with fans, he fielded questions not just about the sneaker, but also about his own self-care and skin-care routines. As 40-something Williams’ skin seems to defy the laws of nature, being asked about his skin-care secrets was nothing new. But despite the interest, the sneaker and streetwear community that idolizes him did not have a skin-care line branded for them.
That all changed in late 2020, when Humanrace officially launched with three skin-care products.
Over the past year, “it’s been amazing to watch how receptive our customers have been to a routine,” said Williams. The routine is focused on “simple steps and effective ingredients, so you can care for yourself without over-complicating the concept of a routine.”
Always one to think outside the box, Williams refers to Humanrace not as a beauty company, but as a “product” company. “The idea is to create products that are necessary, useful and beautiful to help guide our daily practice,” he said.
Most recently, the brand branched into body care with a soap launch. This came after it moved into apparel this summer, collaborating with Williams’ longtime partner Adidas on logo-clad sweatshirts, sweatpants and, of course, sneakers.
The fashion line is sold at ultramodern luxury retailer Ssense, which “understood our brand mission and appreciated the care, attention and aesthetic we put into our products,” said Williams.
As for the secret of his own skin care, “I have to give all the credit to my dermatologist, Dr. Elena Jones, who really helped me understand the importance of finding a routine and sticking to it,” said Williams. Jones is a member of Humanrace’s “Wellbeings” group of celebrities and thought leaders that have helped promote the brand in photo shoots, video talks with Williams and social media posts. Other members include Tyler, The Creator, skateboarder Blondey, and Williams’ wife, Helen Lasichanh.
The brand’s focus is on the “pursuit of wellbeing” and the celebration of the “diversity of humanity,” Williams said. As such, it remains gender-neutral, avoids anti-aging terminology, offers a refill system and uses 50% PCR plastic packages.
“My goal with Humanrace is to create a movement,” he said.