NEW YORK — Looking back on the last 10 years, Shawn “Jay-Z” Carter said he believes that of his many accomplishments — 11 albums, several Grammy wins, former chief executive officer of Def Jam Recordings and co-owner of the New Jersey Nets and the 40/40 nightclubs — he’s proudest of what he’s achieved with Rocawear.
“For nine of the 10 years that we have been doing this, we’ve been hearing that this is a dying sector in the fashion business,” Carter said, thumbing through a rack of Rocawear clothing for his TV commercial shoot. “For us to still be here to celebrate 10 years in business — that alone is a huge accomplishment.”
His mission for Rocawear, as well as that of its parent company Iconix Brand Group Inc. (which acquired the brand for $204 million in cash in April 2007) is to build the label into a $1 billion business. And he sees that becoming a reality sooner rather than later — despite the ongoing recession.
“The birth of this brand came from the needs of this culture, so we just want to make it our business to keep up with the culture and the customer,” Carter said. “We change with them and continue to evolve with them. Our plan for the next 10 years is more growth, it’s as simple as that.”
Carter was in the penthouse apartment in Brooklyn’s Clock Tower Building at 1 Main Street last week to film the brand’s first TV commercial. The ad is celebrating the 10th anniversary of the clothing label Carter started with his then-friend Damon Dash in 1999. Now that Dash is out of the picture (Carter bought Dash’s 25 percent stake in the company for $30 million in September 2005), he’s even more hands-on at the firm.
To that end, Carter recruited his friend, famed filmmaker Spike Lee, to direct the commercial. After a four-day shoot, the ad will be edited down to a five minute short film to be shown next month on BET, followed by a series of 30-second spots on MTV, BET and other networks yet to be selected.
In addition to the TV ad, the Brooklyn native has a long list of plans to help mark the anniversary. For starters, the company has taken over the 35th floor of 1411 Broadway (Rocawear’s headquarters are on the 38th floor) for a month and turned it into a gallery for retailers to come, look at ad campaigns and styles from past years and order from the latest season’s mix of men’s, juniors, children’s apparel and accessories.
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