The L.A-based founder and CEO of streetwear brand Rhude adds a new feather in his cap—or shall we say a new watch on his wrist?—as the new creative director of Bally
“Calm and collected is the man with time on his hand[s]—or his wrist. For every victory, there [are] medals, and these [watches] are my medals,” says Rhuigi Villaseñor in a MR PORTER video about his watch collection. The founder and design director of LA-based brand Rhude owns a roster of classic and standout watches pieces, from classic Patek Philippe 5711, Audemars Piguet Royal Oak, Pulsar Mickey Mouse, Rolex GMT-Master II, to a Cartier Tank Louis.
And if he still adheres to looking at watches as medals for his victories, then we’re wondering what piece he’ll get to celebrate his appointment as Creative Director of Swiss luxury brand Bally.
Villaseñor follows a streak of streetwear giants who have taken the helm of various luxury houses, from Virgil Abloh at LVMH, Matthew M. Williams at Givenchy, to Nigo at KENZO. It’s a move that has drawn both applause (from the streetwear scene, of course) and criticism (from the “gatekeepers” of what luxury fashion ought to be—but on whose terms?), but an exciting development nevertheless for the fashion world.
The Filipino-born global citizen has come a long way from his first successful design back in 2012: a black and white paisley bandana T-shirt which alluded to West Coast culture. After Kendrick Lamar wore two versions of the design to the BET Awards, the rest was history—Rhude became a staple in the closets of stars like A$AP Rocky and Jay-Z.
Rhude takes pride in pieces that combine “luxury techniques with streetwear elements,” weaving American iconography with an eye for vintage, personal stories as a Filipino immigrant making it in the US, nostalgic references, and commentaries on style and culture. Combining relatable narratives with unconventional cuts and and graphics, the resulting collections exude that new yet familiar feel.
Though his name and brand have reached astronomic heights, Villaseñor keeps it humble and cool. In an interview for SSENSE, when asked about his knowledge and definition of luxury, he says that it stems from having less. “I grew up in a humble neighborhood, and I think a lot of my design knowledge has been rooted in not having much. Finding vintage Versace, or vintage Jil Sander was a way for me to educate myself on the quality of garments,” he says. “[New luxury is] finding that perfect vintage t-shirt, or vintage Levi’s. You can’t replicate that feeling.”
Villaseñor has always operated on emotions and personal stories in designing his collections for Rhude, and it will be exciting to see how he translates his narrative-driven sensibilities for his upcoming work at Bally. Originally founded as a shoemaking business in 1851, the Swiss luxury fashion house has been lauded as one of the best makers of leather shoes and accessories in the world.
Even Bally CEO Nicolas Grotto is hyped: “Having acutely followed Rhuigi’s ascent I am excited by how his natural creativity and energetic spirit have made him one of the industry’s greatest idea generators and community builders,” he said in a statement.
Villanseñor is expected to present his debut collection for Bally in Spring/Summer 2023. Meanwhile, we’re looking forward to the next watch he’ll sport to mark this momentous feat in fashion.