Sean “Diddy” Combs gave himself an early Christmas present this year: He’s buying back his Sean John brand, the game-changing streetwear label he created in 1998.
And while it may have cost a little more than he had originally expected, the winning price of $7.551 million was well worth it for him to regain control of his eponymous brand, sources said.
“I launched Sean John in 1998 with the goal of building a premium brand that shattered tradition and introduced hip-hop to high-fashion on a global scale,” Combs said. “Seeing how streetwear has evolved to rewrite the rules of fashion and impact culture across categories, I’m ready to reclaim ownership of the brand, build a team of visionary designers and global partners to write the next chapter of Sean John’s legacy.”
As reported, the entertainer and entrepreneur submitted a bid in bankruptcy court earlier this month to buy the Sean John brand for $3.3 million through an acquisition company named SLC Fashion LLC. As such, he was positioned as the stalking horse, meaning that any other bids would have had to exceed his offer.
Although four other parties reportedly also put in offers for the brand and an auction was held on Dec. 20, ultimately Combs prevailed. At the beginning of the process, 45 potential purchasers were contacted about buying the brand. According to court papers, United Ventures LLC submitted a bid for a cash purchase price of $7.5 million and is now deemed the backup bidder. Final approval of Combs’ offer is scheduled to be held on Dec. 22.
In July, the North American arm of Global Brands Group, the Hong Kong-based company that owns 90 percent of the Sean John label, filed for Chapter 11 in New York and sought to sell its assets, which included Aquatalia, Ely & Walker and Tahari in addition to Sean John.
Combs is believed to have retained a 10 percent stake in the brand when he sold it to GBG in 2016. Court papers described the brand as the “crown jewel” of the GBG portfolio and said the bid submitted by Combs reflected the highest and best available for the assets.
When the majority interest in the brand was sold to GBG five years ago, it had annual retail sales of around $450 million and operated under a licensed model. On the brand’s 20th anniversary, plans called for building it into a $1 billion business, one that would include expansion internationally along with retail stores and the move into more categories.
But the relationship with GBG turned rocky in recent years. In February, Combs filed a lawsuit against GBG seeking $25 million for “false endorsement, misappropriation of likeness and violating his publicity rights,” over the launch last fall of a women’s collection with U.K. fast-fashion retailer Missguided Unlimited. That was followed a few days later by a second lawsuit from his nonprofit, Citizen Change, over GBG’s use of the phrase “Vote or Die,” a trademark owned by the organization.
Those lawsuits have now been dropped, according to sources.
Within two years of its launch, the Sean John brand was carried in 1,200 stores and had sales of $200 million. It held runway extravaganzas in New York, and Combs snagged the Council of Fashion Designers of America’s top men’s wear designer of the year award in 2004, beating out Ralph Lauren and Michael Kors.
With a net worth estimated at around $885 million, Combs has a multipronged career that covers not only fashion but music, TV production, athletes’ beverages and vodka. As chairman and chief executive officer of Combs Enterprises, he oversees Bad Boy Entertainment, Combs Wine & Spirits (Ciroc and DeLeon), Aquahydrate, Revolt Films, TV & Media and Capital Prep Harlem.