Beauty in the Struggle — The Birth of a New German Streetwear Brand

In the world of luxury fashion, buying into a brand means stepping out of your own world and immersing yourself in another — it’s why logos carry weight, and why fashion is one of our purest sources of escapism. The ideas anchoring streetwear can be relentlessly aspirational, too. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing; some would argue that this is why fashion is still fun. But it’s refreshing when a brand takes a different approach.

When German-born, Paris-based ex-footballer and designer Danny Williams decided to launch his own brand of graphic tees, seersucker shirting, and billowy kimonos, it was not to distance himself from his hardship but to reinterpret — hence the name: Beautiful Struggles.

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At 29, the dual citizen was at an impasse. Near the end of Williams’s lifelong soccer career playing on rosters like the U.S. Men’s National Team, Reading F.C., and SC Freiburg, his contract expired after back-to-back injuries, and he struggled to secure a spot as a defensive midfielder. Plus, as he approached his thirties, he felt he was aging out of the sport altogether.

“Out of nowhere, I was 29 and I didn’t have a club,” he recalls over Zoom on a recent afternoon. While he recovered from his broken ankle, he flipped clothes on eBay. The experience proved inspiring. From there, he toyed with the idea of creating a brand of his own.

By the time he was finally recruited to Cyprus-based Pafos FC in 2019, he was thinking ahead to a life after pro sports, which he had never considered before. In March 2020, his career halted entirely, and he found himself alone in Cyprus, trapped in lockdown, like the rest of the world, and unable to leave. “I started to get really depressed,” he shares. “They closed all the borders, so I couldn’t see anyone.”

During his time in isolation, Williams got reflective. He had developed a passion for styling while he was still a full-time midfielder, so a line of his own didn’t seem so far-fetched. “When I was playing, I would be drawn to all the brands that got big later. I always found them when they were unknown, and years later, all the players in the Premier League would wear those clothes,” he recalls. “So, I was like, ‘You know what? I’m gonna start my own label.’”

The brand’s optimistic name also came about in Cyprus. “I was sitting on my terrace on a sunny day, and I was thinking about how my life is kind of like a beautiful struggle: I was a professional athlete, I was in Cyprus, I was shut down from the world in a really nice place, but mentally, I was in a very bad place,” he says. “I wanted to take that story of overcoming adversity and translate it into something beautiful.”

First came the t-shirts inspired by each of his childhood heroes: Allen Iverson, Lenny Kravitz, and Prince, all American heroes introduced to him by his father, a New Yorker who fell in love while stationed in Germany with the U.S. Army. Next came drops merging streetwear staples like hoodies and sweats with asymmetrical button-ups, letterman and field jackets, and, most recently, cycling sunglasses.

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But the struggle didn’t end when he launched his first pieces. Managing the day-to-day of Beautiful Struggles was initially so stressful that Williams began to lose his hair. Without a background in design — Williams does not sew or sketch — taking garments from ideation to execution had a steep learning curve. “It’s way more challenging than I expected. As a consumer, all you see is the finished product,” he shares. “The biggest challenge for me was patience.”

The latest Beautiful Struggles campaign, aptly entitled Impatience Is My Weakness, leans into that. The campaign reinforces the idea that Beautiful Struggles is not a self-aggrandizing vanity project or a haphazard collection of tees and jackets. It’s Williams’s autobiographical outlet, charting his shortcomings and challenges as much as he highlights his inspirations and dreams.

For Williams, embracing this duality is key to understanding the brand. “It’s a way of living — overcoming adversity or seeing the good things when something bad happens to you,” he says. It’s also how he wants to make an impact. “In the most humble way, we’re trying to change the world. But in an authentic way. Beautiful Struggles is bigger than me.”