Pharrell Williams’ Humanrace Launches in Dover Street Parfums Market

Humanrace, Williams’ skin care label, will begin selling its rice powder cleanser, lotus enzyme exfoliator, humidifying cream, body bars and ceramic dishes, as well as product refills, at the Paris outpost of Dover Street Parfums Market (DSPM) on Dec. 8.

Entry into the luxury retailer, or, what Pharrell Williams, musician and Humanrace’s founder, calls “the kingdom of fashion,” signals to him both the success and the potential of the concept.

“It’s like, man, my product made it in there? I got their attention?” said Williams. “It’s a hell of a stamp … If what we’re doing is compatible with the space, that’s a game-changer.

The move, which marks the first physical retail partnership for the gender-neutral wellness label Williams founded in November 2020, offers a look into how the brand is plotting growth across categories since its launch. Humanrace already counts Ssense as a retail partner, but doesn’t have permanent shelf space in its Montreal store. Its DPSM partnership is its most significant move into brick-and-mortar yet, and beefs up the brand’s wholesale presence. (It launched as a direct-to-consumer brand.) Rachel Muscat, Humanrace co-founder and president, told BoF she predicts wholesale will eventually make up around 20 percent of the brand’s sales.

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For now, Humanrace is focused on the US, UK and France, with plans to launch a DTC operation in Asia next year (though it’s already available there through Ssense). Beyond skin care, Humanrace also sells sneakers and apparel through a collaboration with Adidas earlier this year. Muscat says the brand has an even split in gender among consumers, a rarity in the beauty and wellness space, which is still largely driven by women.

Williams — one of several male celebrities who has launched a beauty brand in recent months — said getting into skin care was the natural next step given his interest in the category as well as others’ interest in his notably taut skin. The musician, age 48, says he’s often asked about his routine, developed with his dermatologist Dr. Elena Jones, who is the brand’s chief dermatologist. (The launch, too, came at a time when the skin care category was seeing gains while cosmetics floundered.)

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Humanrace’s mission is to “leave the categories better than [the brand] found it,” said Williams, pointing to the brand’s take on soap as an example. When the team found that soap stripped skin of natural oils, he said, they instead created a soap-free “body bar” which uses ‘natural’ ingredients such as charcoal, rice powder and white clay.

“There’s the Model T, and there’s the Tesla,” said Williams. “It’s just two different things. Just because they have four wheels doesn’t mean it’s the same thing.”

With that, though Humanrace is eyeing expansion, it will only get into categories where it knows it can provide the most premium products to consumers. Muscat said she believes the strategy will pay off in a post-pandemic retail environment that has made consumers “much more considered,” about the products they buy, according to Muscat.

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“We don’t think there’s a limit to this,” said Muscat. “We haven’t really set that idea of us just being a beauty brand … It’s really about living well, and there’s so many ways to interpret that.”

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