How Jay-Z Built Rocawear, the Hip Hop Fashion Line Worth Over Half a Billion | Style

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If you were a hip hop fan in the late 90s and early to mid 2000s, then Rocawear won’t need to be introduced. Items from the fashion label, co-founded by rapper Jay-Z, were as common in music videos as groups of scantily clad women popping Crystal bottles in a hot tub. For the unaccustomed, Rocawear is quite simply the most profitable brand in the history of hip hop.

It all started in 1999, when Jay-Z, real name Shawn Carter, dominated the charts. His latest album Vol 2… A hard blow to life had sold more than five million copies and its next, Vol 3… The Life and Times of S. Carter, was about to be released and is expected to experience the same success. Put simply, Jay-Z was a true superstar, transcending the genre.

It didn’t take long for the rapper to notice the influence he and the record company he co-founded in 1995, Roc-A-Fella, had on his ever-expanding audience, from the clothes they wore. to the drinks they carried. drink (Crystal, in particular). It was too massive and too loyal an audience to be ignored.

Jay-Z, Kanye West and Sean’P. Diddy ‘Combs at a Rocawear event (Getty Images)

Alongside Damon Dash, founder of Roc-A-Fella Records, Jay-Z set out to bring the proposal for a new clothing line, led by Jay-Z and other rappers signed to his label, to a number of major brands. Each made fun of them, hijacked them, or both. They didn’t believe there was value in the urban community, they said. It was a big mistake – Jay-Z and Dash instead looked for investors and started the business as a subsidiary of Rocafella Records – Rocawear was born and became an integral part of hip hop history.

Founding Rocawear, Jay-Z said, “I was making records and talking about different clothing brands and I started to notice that I was selling a lot of clothes for these companies – I was going to see them and they just kept on going. to refuse me. I don’t think they understood the amount of clothes I was moving for them.

From growing up in Marcy projects in Brooklyn to becoming a fashionista, Jay-Z’s reputation as a good businessman is well known (he has a net worth of $ 1 billion after all) and with Rocawear, every step was a masterstroke to make it a brand which, at its peak in 2007, was worth $ 700,000,000. First came the licensing deals, then came a move to Macy’s flagship store, expanding and diversifying an already sizable audience and with all the extra capital they had earned they focused on marketing and advertisements highlighting stars everyone from model Naomi Campbell to the Spice Girls. ‘Victoria Beckham. Rocawear exploded in the United States, then around the world.

Victoria Beckham (Getty Images)

Victoria Beckham (Getty Images)

It was a brand that was seen as a no-investment business by other big fashion brands, but what they saw as a dud Jay-Z saw as a golden opportunity, which started with a simple idea. and has grown into a seven-figure global company that has changed the way hip hop and fashion meet forever.


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