Neymar has used it, Bob Dylan too. Not to mention model Cara Delevingne, American football player Tom Brady and a long list of personalities on the global stage. In truth, celebrities have been parading Nick Fouquet’s hats practically since he started making them. “One of my first five clients was Billy Gibbons, from ZZ Top,” says the hatmaker born in New York, raised in France, traveled around the world and now, at age 39, based in Los Angeles. The consumers were soon joined by musicians Pharrell and Madonna – both wore branded accessories at the 2014 Grammys.
Driven by a team of heavyweight influencers, Fouquet has established himself as a creator of modernized western-style hats that attract famous and anonymous people alike. And now he turns his designer gaze to another American classic: the boots, in a partnership launched in March with Lucchese. “Lucchese is an iconic brand, known for the best cowboy boots,” says Fouquet. “It came to me because it liked what I have been doing to reinvigorate the hat market.”
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In this process, a conversation with a cowboy from Ohio who had made his own hat was decisive. Fouquet, then in his early twenties, says he had never thought about how a hat was born. And he was impressed with the quality of the piece, with the artisanal method of production, with the timeless and almost unchanging design, with the potential of the category. “It’s a luxury product, with a luxury process, but you have to educate people so they know that.”
From there, he began to research and ended up opening a studio in Venice Beach. Today it has about 30 employees and also a store in Aspen. He became a poster boy for his products (as if casting celebrities were not enough) and promoting the category as a whole. “Everyone can wear a hat”, he defends. “The choice depends on proportion, facial structure, eye colors, skin, hair.” And is there a right way to use it? “With confidence.”
See below the interview that Fouquet, wearing a cap from the collab with Lucchese, gave to Forbes.
I read that you create a universe to think about who would wear your hats – what they wear, where they go, who they hang out with. who is this imaginary customer? And who is your real customer?
This imaginary client derives from several clients in the LA area. It could be the girl from Malibu in a convertible Mercedes driving with flowing hair, sunglasses, and a hat. It could be the guy from the center… They are always creative, artistic, hard-working, passionate imaginary clients. Travelers and artistic and bohemian spirit. My real clientele is very diverse. From baseball, football and soccer athletes –Neymar and Dani Alves are my clients – to actors, rappers, rockers. It’s crazy how I reach all these different groups. I am grateful that this imaginary clientele is also realistic. Customers are, for the most part, passionate and creative people, who understand quality, craftsmanship, timelessness, beauty and elegance. That’s the common denominator. And, of course, I feel so grateful to have these amazing and beautiful celebrities following the brand.
When did celebrities start using your models?
It happened very organically. One of my first clients was Billy Gibbons from the band ZZ Top. I made him a beautiful piece. Then celebrities started showing up at the store. We made hats for [o rapper] Pharrell, who at the 2014 Grammys wore a big crazy Vivienne Westwood hat on the red carpet and played the stage with Daft Punk wearing our hat; at the same time, Madonna was also wearing one of our hats.
What does a hat say about someone?
When someone is confident enough to wear a hat, it is revealing of that person’s characteristics. Hats attract interest: on the street, if you see a guy or girl in a nice hat, your eyes automatically recognize it. They bring an eccentricity. And they’re a great way to start a conversation: “Hey, why are you wearing that hat? Oh, my God, it looks so beautiful. Who are you? What do you do? Where are you coming from? Where did you get that hat from?”
When did you start using it?
My stepmother worked at Hermès and one day she brought me a hat from [chapelaria parisiense] Motsch [produzido para a grife francesa]. The quality was so unbelievable!
And when did you start making them?
I worked for a designer who was making reproductions of WW1, WWII clothing, so I learned a little bit about production and sewing. I was fascinated by the whole process and the creative part of putting things together and making an outfit to wear. But I was ambitious and wanted to start my own business. I met a cowboy who was walking around in this beautiful hat and asked, “Where did you get that?” And he: “I did it”. I never thought there was a process behind how hats are made. But when I saw the quality of that one… There are about 40, 50 people in the United States that make hats in this specific way. And they haven’t changed in 50, 60 years. There’s this whole culture and subculture of fancy hats made in a specific way, and I felt like I can bring that and maybe be able to reintroduce them.
on a broader market scale. It took a lot of trial and error to figure out how to modernize this – whether it’s adding fabrics and gear and different colors, whether it’s adopting a worn-out look or revamping it.
What’s the story behind the matchstick you put in the ribbon?
When you have an idea, it usually comes in a flash, as if you were lighting a match. It is the spark of inspiration, it is the spark of creativity. For me, this is the meaning of phosphorus. And he is a conversation starter.
Does it also have something to do with tradition? I saw an old photo of an ice delivery guy wearing a hat with lots of matchsticks.
In the old days, people used matches and matchboxes in their hats to light cigarettes. It was a place to carry things. Hats are also beautiful because they are a utilitarian piece: they protect you from the sun, they can keep you warm and they are a fashion statement.
How many hats do you have for personal use?
I have a hat.
When we helped Givenchy make a runway collection (in 2020), he was one of the sample hats. It’s western style black. It’s really worn and shabby because I’ve used it a lot. I make hats every day, all day, and try them on. If I were to keep them, I would have many. And people would ask for whatever I had on my mind.
On what occasions do you use it?
Every day, whether to go out or to go to the store. It’s very versatile.
But now you’re wearing a cap. always have something on your mind?
Yup. This one I’m using I made for Lucchese.
Report published in issue 95 of Forbes Brasil, released in March 2022.
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