Written by Tyler Mcgillivary
This year’s Grammy Awards was full of surprises. Queen Latifah married 33 gay couples onstage as Macklemore rapped along to his hit song “Same Love,” Madonna made an unexpected (not entirely appreciated) cameo appearance and Beyonce and Jay-Z performed a steamy rendition of their song “Drunk in Love.” Still, perhaps the most shocking and definitely most tweeted about aspect of the evening, was Pharrell’s Vivienne Westwood hat.
For many viewers, the hat brought to mind a glowing Arby’s logo or the hat Smokey the Bear wears in posters warning campers; “only [they] can prevent forest fires.” It was relieving, then to discover that the infamous hat actually has sartorial roots, acting as an homage to the style of a 1982 video for “Buffalo Gals” by hip-hop group Malcolm Mclaren and the World Famous Supreme Team.
Since its initial appearance, Pharrell’s hat has proliferated within the media, leading to the emergence of its very own Twitter page and the release of multiple “buffalo hat”-centric style articles. Based on Pharrell’s recent Saturday Night Live performance, in which he donned an emerald green version, the hat seems to be here to stay.
This is not the first time that Pharrell, or his hats, have made an imprint on the fashion world. Throughout his career in the industry, Pharrell has shown a sustained interest in fashion entrepreneurship and a keen eye for upcoming street-wear trends. In 2001, he rocketed the trucker hat to the forefront of street wear when he wore a Rolling-Stones logo version in N.E.R.D.’s music video for “Lapdance.”
Then, in 2005, the Renaissance man partnered with Japanese style icon Nigo to create his widely successful clothing lines, Billionare Boys Club and ICECREAM, allowing fans to emanate the same playful, yet put-together style that he projects daily and on the red carpet. Pharrell has also collaborated with Louis Vuitton, Karmaloop and recently released a line of sneakers in collaboration with Adidas, showing his continued relevance in the industry.
Pharrell’s style stands out among his peers because it draws on so many distinct styles and elements including humor, cartoons, equestrian, military, sportswear, 90s hip-hop stars and still somehow manages to come together in well-constructed, refined outfits. Only Pharrell could mix patchwork jeans, a buttoned equestrian blazer and oxfords with an Arby’s style hat and make it look appropriate, even, dare I say envy inducing. With a role in the fashion forecast as strong as Pharrell’s and a pack of unwavering followers, I wouldn’t be surprising if the “buffalo hat” began to make its way to the heads of the fashion set and street-wear stars alike.