NEW YORK — Marc Ecko Enterprises last week confirmed that it will shed Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson’s G-Unit brand after a four-year partnership. According to a statement, the company is exploring “transitioning this brand to a different apparel company in the coming months.” MEE also confirmed that it laid off nearly 20 employees as part of a “consolidation in staffing.” G-Unit president Paul Boyea is also no longer with the company.
MEE’s vice-president of corporate communications, Laurie Baker, declined to comment beyond the statement. 50 Cent could not be reached by presstime.
MEE launched G-Unit as a young men’s brand in partnership with rap superstar 50 Cent in spring 2004. The hip-hop-oriented sportswear line has since expanded into women’s and children’s apparel and accessories, and currently retails in department stores and urban specialty stores.
Considerable investment had been made in the G-Unit brand in recent months, including the build-out of a 1,500-square-foot office for 50 Cent in the MEE building on 23rd Street, complete with a personal gym and recording studio with $80,000 worth of equipment. However, the rapper’s potentially waning popularity—his latest album, “Curtis,” released in September 2007, brought in the lowest first-week sales of any of his albums to date—combined with the struggling state of the hip-hop apparel industry, may have caused MEE to reevaluate its involvement with the brand.
MEE maintains that it will “continue to sell and distribute the G-Unit line, support the brand and service its customer base” to enable “a smooth and seamless transition of the clothing brand in the event 50 Cent finds a new partner.”