Tyler, the Creator has long believed in scarcity. Limited-edition drops for his skate-inspired clothing line Golf Wang and collaborations with Converse and Lacoste are what made hypebeasts line up in droves for his colourful sneakers, polo shirts and hats for the last decade.
But as his nearly two-year-old luxury lifestyle brand Golf le Fleur grows up, the musician-turned-designer is taking a new approach to his beauty portfolio.
“I can’t front. I want the fragrance everywhere,” he told The Business of Beauty.
Like hip-hop contemporaries Pharrell Willams and Kanye West, Tyler Gregory Okonma — better known as Tyler, the Creator — has cultivated a unique aesthetic and built lifestyle brands while making music. The Grammy-winning artist is best known for his fashion influence, with ties to the late Virgil Abloh and Supreme. But it’s his fragrance, French Waltz, that has become the bestseller for his budding brand, Golf le Fleur, over nail polishes, clothing, eyewear and luggage.
Earlier this month, the artist expanded his beauty proposition to a number of physical retailers, adding 10 additional Neiman Marcus locations, from a sole outpost in Beverly Hills, and launching in Dover Street Parfums Market in Paris. These partners join Bergdorf Goodman, Arielle Shoshana and several independent boutiques globally. The brand hopes to grow wholesale to 20 percent of its total revenue, up from 10 percent today.
“I’m not an online shopper, much. I don’t even use Uber Eats. I go to restaurants,” Tyler said. “For me, in-store experience is number one, because I’m a person with senses that work.”
The Cult of Tyler
Best known for his genre-bending musical career that began with his hip-hop collective Odd Future, Tyler’s style has evolved just as his music has. He played a major role in the rise of Supreme; resale site Grailed reported that he drove the highest number of Google searches for Supreme above A$AP Rocky, Travis Scott and Justin Bieber between 2011 and 2015. He is also credited with pioneering what is now called “grandpacore” fashion well before TikTok discovered it.
He quickly became known as a trendsetter, which led to the launch of skate and streetwear brand Golf Wang in 2011. An elevated sub-brand, Golf le Fleur, first appeared five years later with Converse and Lacoste collaborations, and was spun off into a standalone label in 2021. Tyler has said the foray into luxury was encouraged by Abloh, with whom he had close ties — he composed the score and starred in the designer’s last Louis Vuitton runway collection in January 2022. A 100ml bottle of Golf le Fleur’s French Waltz fragrance retails for $200, and a luggage collection sells for $155 to over $3,000.
“He’s aged with his fan base from those skater kids … to now talking about houses, talking about cars and talking about skin care and talking about watches. I think it’s quite a refined vision,” said 20-year-old fashion designer Fintan Fox, a self-proclaimed Tyler fan.
Though most celebrity brands have garnered a collective eye roll from the public, Tyler seems to have an elusive component that some other beauty founders like Brad Pitt and Jared Leto lack: intensely devoted fans ready to buy his products.
“He is one of those artists that has that die-hard fan base,” said Marina Mansour, vice president of beauty and wellness at creator marketing agency Kyra. “Tyler’s basically a business, but he’s done it in a way that you kind of didn’t really notice because it’s not like he suddenly was the face of everything and shoving merch down everyone’s throats.”
Tyler has kept his name and photo off products to mitigate the risk of online backlash that has plagued celebrity founders. “If I fucking ran over a cat, I don’t want people to fully disregard that great scent because my face is on it and they hate me now,” he said.
His mentions of skin care and his fragrance in song lyrics have made Tyler’s jump from fashion to beauty more seamless. (French Waltz is frequently referenced on his 2021 album “Call Me if You Get Lost.”) “He does talk about beauty; he’s always got his nails done. Aesthetics are such a big part of him,” added Mansour.
Thus far, shoppers have mostly bought into Tyler’s beauty vision online, but the founder stressed the importance of experiencing beauty in store. Acknowledging that he does not have a strong female-focused customer base, Tyler said that the move into Neiman Marcus will allow him to reach a wider audience.
“I like that it will be people who have no idea who I am who get to not only smell the fragrance, but also smell it from a blank state,” he said.
In addition to more retail locations, Tyler hopes to open a standalone Golf le Fleur store. He is also taking it slow with category expansion, but stated that French Waltz is just his “first” fragrance.
“Right now, I just want to focus on perfume,” he said. “Maybe one day, a French Waltz body wash or some random shit like that. I don’t want to overdo it. … I don’t even want to focus on, ‘Five years from now, we’re going to have fucking toe cream and hair moisturizer.’ Let me at least get people to smell the first fragrance first.”