Rapper/Businessman Shawn “Jay-Z” Carter has been in the news a lot lately.
First, he’s the proud father of Blue Ivy Carter. Then he melted hearts with the new song, “Glory,” which featured Blue’s baby coos. Followed by an erroneous report that he was going to stop using the word b*tch because he now has a daughter. His reps denied this, which made the media investigate deeper into the amount of times he used the word in his songs.
Now comes news that nearly half of the staff at Rocawear – the hip-hop clothing brand founded in 1999 by rap entrepreneurs Shawn “Jay-Z” Carter and Damon Dash — laid off half the staff of its men’s and boys apparel division on Jan. 6, one day before Jay-Z’s wife, Beyoncé Knowles, gave birth to the couple’s baby girl.
Rocawear’s New York headquarters — a 40,000-square-foot facility where Jay-Z took an office in 2009 — fired 28 of its 56 workers for “economic” reasons, according to documents filed with the New York State Department of Labor.
Jay-Z, formerly a “big presence” in the office, rarely shows up anymore, an insider said. “It’s kind of like he’s given up on the brand,” the source added.
In 2007, as the market for urban-style clothing was peaking, Jay-Z sold the Rocawear brand for $204 million in cash to Iconix Group, a licensing company that also owns brands such as Candie’s, Ed Hardy and Peanuts.
While Jay-Z retained an interest in Rocawear as part of the deal, his contractual obligations to the brand as the face and company “pitch man” have expired and he has since refused to promote it amid steady, double-digit sales drops, sources said.
“Jay-Z doesn’t do anything without getting paid a lot of money — a lot more than Rocawear is generating,” according to one insider.
Reportedly, Jay-Z recently partnered with record producer Pharrell Williams and his Billionaire Boys Club clothing line, and perhaps that’s a direction he’d rather go in at the moment. No one can accuse him of being anything but savvy when it comes to business, so perhaps he felt his time with Rocawear had come to an end.
According to fashion critics, there’s just something a little uninspired and outdated about Rocawear’s Spring 2012 collection.