NEW YORK — It doesn’t look like Reebok International Ltd. is receiving Champagne wishes and caviar dreams for its sponsorship of rapper Rick Ross, who serves as spokesman for the brand’s Classics line of sneakers.
Instead, the athletic brand received a different kind of reception Thursday afternoon: More than 40 protestors stood in front of the Reebok Fitness Hub on Fifth Avenue here holding placards saying “Hey Reebok: Want my business? Stop promoting rape,” while chanting “Reebok drop Rick Ross.” The protest was organized by UltraViolet, an activist organization against sexism, which has put Reebok on the hot seat over its sponsorship of Ross. The main point of contention is the lyrics in a song he raps on, titled “U.O.E.N.O,” in which the protestors said Ross describes drugging a woman’s Champagne with “Molly,” or Ecstasy, and having sex with her without her knowledge or consent.
The lyric in question is: “Put Molly all in her Champagne, she ain’t even know it. I took her home and I enjoyed that, she ain’t even know it.”
The goal of the gathering was to present Reebok officials in-store with a box containing 72,000 signatures from consumers who want the athletic powerhouse to drop Ross because of his controversial lyrics, which they believe condone rape.
But the box never got past the front door, as Reebok security men blocked the entrance.
Asked why they wouldn’t let a woman into the store to deliver the petition, a security guard replied, “Because there are customers in the store.”
Reebok officials did not return phone calls or e-mail queries.
However, Ross tweeted a statement that said, “I don’t condone rape…apologize for #lyric interpreted as rape.”
Shaunna Thomas, cofounder of the UltraViolet organization, which has 400,000 members, acknowledged that the entertainment industry often uses controversial and provocative material but said, “it was time to draw a line.”
“We’re doing this because of his [Ross’] high profile in the hip-hop industry, and because we felt it was our responsibility to say it’s wrong, that rape is wrong. But he’s being rewarded with sponsorship dollars by Reebok,” said Thomas. “It’s the first time we’ve ever attempted to deliver the petition. Reebok has been feeling a lot of pressure, more than we expected.”
Alicia Barksdale, a candidate running for Council in New York’s District 7, said she was protesting because she was “offended” by Ross’ lyrics and Reebok’s support.
“It’s not OK for someone to say it’s OK to rape someone,” said Barksdale.
Sonia Ossorio, president of the New York chapter of NOW, said Reebok “must be held accountable for standing by someone who condones rape.”
“Reebok is one of the oldest athletic brands in America. We want an explanation as to why Reebok would be in business with someone who is associated with a hate crime. Reebok’s ceo [Uli Becker] won’t even talk to us,” said Ossorio, who has taken a stand against sexism in the liquor and fashion industries in the past.
EXCLUSIVE: @tomford is opening its first-ever beauty store. The boutique, which opens November 20 in London’s Covent Gardens, was designed with the over-the-top glam Ford is known for. Read the full story on WWD.com, link in bio. #wwdbeauty #wwdnews (📷: Simon Wagner) #TomFordBeauty
New York-based DJ @harleyvnewton threw a party to celebrate the holiday collection of her dress and pajama line @hvn at the Ladurée Beverly Hills. It Girls @katebosworth, @rashidajones and more joined in on the fun, which included cocktails, croque monsieur sandwiches and a photo booth. #wwdfashion (📷: Owen Kolasinski/BFA.com)
For the holidays, @Burberry partnered with 20-year-old artist @blondeymccoy on a series of three outdoor murals in downtown Manhattan. The murals are McCoy’s interpretation of a Christmas eve party, the idea of charity and the spirit of family. His third mural, pictured here, is the most personal. The image depicts McCoy’s grandparents and father in London’s Trafalgar Square in the Seventies. “My work often features lots of sentimental objects.” #wwdeye
For spring 2018, designers applied bold colors and cartoonish motifs on everything from sneakers and belts to key chains. See all the top men’s accessories trends on WWD.com. #wwdtrends (📷: George Chinsee; Prop Styling by @rnasti; Market Editor: @luiscampuzano)
The @dior-sponsored @guggenheim international gala pre-party has a history of drawing cool-girl musical acts to serenade the crowd –– and last night was no exception. @haimtheband performed songs both new and old, and lured a star-studded audience with the likes of Rebecca Hall, Kate Mara, Mamoudou Athie and more. #wwdeye (📷: @lexieblacklock)
In a partnership between the @metopera and the @englishnationalopera, “Marnie” was born. The opera, with costumes sponsored by @mrporterlive, is an adaptation of the 1961 thriller by Winston Graham. Arianne Phillips, who created the costumes, is no rookie: She’s styled Madonna for her tours and created costumes for a myriad of films in the past. Read WWD’s interview with Phillips, where she talks about her inspiration for the opera’s costumes on WWD.com #wwdfashion
@barneysnyc took a different approach to their holiday windows this year. Instead of Christmas decor, Barneys tapped @thehaasbrothers to tell a story of positivity, gratitude and inclusivity via heartwarming silliness and humor. “It’s about kids and it’s about coming together and being family and loving each other,” said Simon Haas. #wwdfashion (📷: @joshuascottphoto)
Beauty influencer @kandeejohnson makes her foray into hair care with a collaboration with @ogx_beauty — making it the first time that OGX has teamed up for a product creation. The collab includes shampoos and conditioners in three scents. At 39 and a mom, Johnson is a different profile than the emerging social media stars, but is considered one of the pioneers of the digital beauty influencer world. Read WWD’s interview with her on wwd.com, including the strangest beauty product she’s ever tried #wwdbeauty