Jay-Z’s hold on music may be secure, but the Rocawear clothing brand the rap mogul aligned with over the years is on shaky ground.
Rocawear is faltering so much so that Jay-Z is taking the bull by the horns and leading the effort to put the brand back on top with its first-ever television commercial.
The Anthony Mandler-directed black and white clips, titled From “Marcy to Madison Square,” will chronicle Jay-Z’s rise from selling CDs from his car in the Marcy Projects of Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn to headlining Madison Square Garden with Kanye West on the “Watch The Throne” tour in November 2011.
The Rocawear commercial arrives amid troubling times for the apparel line, which experienced a global sales dip of $500 million. As a result, “Roc Apparel Group LLC laid off 28 of its 56 employees at its Manhattan headquarters,” Women’s Wear Daily reported.
Speaking with the publication, Iconix Brand Group president and chief executive officer Neil Cole revealed that things are looking up for Rocawear, despite a “rocky winter.” Iconix bought Rocawear for $204 million in 2007.
This winter has been especially hard for Rocawear. In November, the company came under scrutiny for allegedly selling “Occupy All Streets” T-shirts without giving any of the profits to the Occupy Wall Street movement which inspired the clothing. In addition, rumors swirled that Jay-Z was about to leave Rocawear. As it stands now, sales of Rocawear’s men’s clothing account for just over 15 percent of their overall intake.
Talk of Jay-Z’s departure has since been silenced. The entertainer is committed to staying on with Rocawear until 2014, after renewing his contract for another three years. While the rap star has a lot on his plate, Cole maintains that Jay-Z is still in control and doing his part to ensure that Rocawear continues to thrive.
“Of course, he’s a busy guy between his tour and his new baby and his music,” the executive said. “Are there times when he’s not on tour and not in the studio where we get more time with him? Yes. And are there times when we have to work via e-mail and through other channels? Yes. But we are lucky enough to get a lot of his time and caring.”
In addition to the new commercial, Rocawear plans to rebound by focusing on children’s and international sales, which have proven to be more successful. The Jay-Z-featured Rocawear ad is set to hit the small screen this spring and air on MTV, BET, and TNT during NBA basketball games and online.