Iconix Brand Group’s Rocawear brand has tapped DJ, record producer and social media phenom DJ Khaled as its latest brand ambassador and the star of its fall 2016 campaign, which will break next month.
The rights to the streetwear brand, founded by Shawn “Jay Z” Carter and Damon Dash in 1999 (Dash sold his share in 2005), were sold to Iconix for $204 million in 2007, when it was estimated to have $350 to $400 million in wholesale volume. Earlier this year, Carter signed DJ Khaled, whose birth name is Khaled Mohamed Khaled, to his Roc Nation company in a management-only deal. Iconix’s men’s business is struggling, but Khaled’s music career seems to be at a peak, as his single “For Free” (featuring Drake) is currently topping the charts. He’s on Beyoncé’s Formation tour, and is readying for the upcoming release of his ninth studio album, “Major Key.” But what he’s most known for is his massive social media following — 19 million and counting — most of which is via Snapchat, a platform he discovered last October and has quickly dominated with motivational videos, life lessons which he dubs “keys,” and various snapshots of his everyday life with the hashtag #BlessUp.
While the 40-year-old, plus-size personality may not seem like the obvious choice to front a fashion brand (Rocawear has also hired Ciara and Chris Brown in the past), Iconix’s vice president of digital, Aleesha Smalls, who has been with Rocawear since 2001, says he’s a natural fit. “He speaks to, culturally, who our brand is targeting for now. He’s moving and shaking everywhere; he has one-on-one conversations with his fan base daily through social media. For sure, that’s where the consumer lives now,” she said.
As for starring in his first fashion campaign, Khaled, who called WWD from a Los Angeles stop on his tour, where he also snapped from a Rolls-Royce dealership and outside the Roc Nation offices, says, “It’s always my goal to align myself with other great brands. I grew up listening to Jay Z. With Jay Z and Rocawear, when you think, you think all about great classic musical moments he has brought to the game, he’s just embedded in the culture. They are so attuned to every generation; that’s why they are timeless.”
Naturally, Khaled also shared a few behind-the-scenes snaps from the Rocawear shoot, which took place at Rose Bar in the Gramercy Hotel in New York. The images disappeared from the platform after 24 hours, but in one, he’s wearing a custom-made robe, which will become a giveaway on his social media channels. It’s easy to imagine him wearing the clothes, as he already does include the brand in his wardrobe of tracksuits, shorts and T-shirts. The fall collection includes the brand’s staple denim in a wide range of sizes, retailing for $50; a number of new fashion knit tops for $25; fleece sets and activewear just below $100, and outerwear between $80 to $120. The Rocawear women’s collection comprises the same categories. Distribution will include Dillard’s, J.C. Penney and Amazon.
“Fans of Roc-A-Fella Records and Roc Nation aspire to be like Jay Z and Beyoncé. Rocawear is an attainable luxury lifestyle for them,” said Vinny Nesi, Iconix’s senior vice president of men’s fashion. Nesi confirmed that the deal “stretches into 2017 and beyond. It’s not a onetime thing. Khaled is involved with input and creative opinions. He loves surprises and has many more in store in over the next 18 months.”
Always true to his messages of positivity and gratitude, Khaled noted of the Rocawear deal, “I’m just keeping the torch lit. The culture and the fans will love that, because we’re blessed to be one of the leaders in the game.”