Athletes have become increasingly influential in the fashion world and in addition to working with large brands with a broad range of products and customers, sports stars also choose to work with smaller brands focused on catering specifically to the athlete market. QG’s fashion editor, Aaron Campbell, got a chance to talk to the founder of one of these brands, Pharoah Kirk to talk about his company, designing for athletes and his take on athletes turned fashion influencers.
How were you introduced to fashion and how did this introduction influence your current business?
I was introduced to fashion at a very early age a my parents were entrepreneurs and owned a dry cleaning business. While seeing all of the different textiles in the cleaners, my mother and father subsequently taught me about different fashion designers such as Tracey Reese, Dapper Dan, Giorgio Armani, and many others who influenced my decision to become a designer.
When starting your business, PHAROAH, what inspired you to focus on dressing athletes?
I noticed that there was a lack of positive representation in the media when it came to [Black] athletes and fashion. In the early 2000’s Allen Iverson, for example, was often misunderstood and misjudged, partially because of his clothes. I recognized that I could help create a positive brand image for athletes through fashion.
What approach have you taken to build your brand in the fashion industry and attract clients?
Social media Influencers and brand ambassadors have been a great help to generate awareness within the fashion industry and to attract new clients. I pay a lot of attention to the “client experience,” specifically understanding their needs and wants, and from there, usually clients help generate business for me by spreading the word to their various networks.
I would imagine the majority of your clothes are bespoke/made-to-measure. How would you describe the aesthetic of your clothing and what approach do you take regarding your creative process?
My brand PHAROAH has two components including our core bespoke/made-to-measure section that falls under our Christian Henry brand for pieces like suits and overcoats, and a custom-made collection of luxury street-wear.
When it comes to the creative process, I try to understand the market and design based on what customers are asking for, while still aligning the clothes to the brand’s overall character and style.
Can you describe your first experience working with an athlete?
I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t nervous [laughs]. It was Seth Curry of the Dallas Mavericks. I had known him for quite a while but still wanted to be sure I did a great job for him as a client. I was able to tap into his personality and create pieces that aligned with his personal style and overall brand. This experience helped acclimate me to working with other big names in the sports industry.
Over the last few years, athletes have become major influencers in the world of fashion, with pregame looks as publicized as the games themselves. What do you think has caused this shift?
I personally believe that players are beginning to understand different ways they can expand their brands, particularly by forming partnerships and becoming ambassadors for different companies, including those in the fashion industry. I personally think this is a good thing, plus a lot of players simply love fashion.
In this new era of the athlete/fashion influencer, what is your overall take on “athlete style” and what tips would you offer athletes who are interested in stepping up their fashion game?
I love it! I love how they now have more opportunities to show off their personalities through clothing. For athletes that are not super fashionable but want to look good, I would advise them to start with a good stylist and to focus on understanding the basics putting together pieces, coordinate colors, etc.
Do you have a dream athlete/client you would like to work with?
Hmm, this is a good question. I think LeBron James would be my dream client because he has had a range of different looks over the years. I can see that he is open to experimenting with clothes, which is a good thing for me when working with a client.
Make to follow Pharoah on Instagram.