Rise and fall of Diddy's Sean John fashion empire amid federal investigation

Date:

Sean “Diddy” Combs’ status as a mogul is wavering in the wake of the raids on his homes in Los Angeles and Miami as part of a human trafficking investigation, in addition to multiple lawsuits. 

One of the first brands that put Combs on the map as an entrepreneur, in addition to rapper and producer, was his Sean John fashion brand. But the brand has seemingly hit hard times.

Launched in 1998, Sean John began in practically a cubicle at Combs’ label, Bad Boy Records, according to a 2018 oral history in GQ. It also revealed that the first product samples were created as “tour product” and given to musicians like Jay-Z and Busta Rhymes. 

In GQ, Combs said, “Jeff [Tweedy, then president of the brand] initially faced some pushback from the retailers who categorized us as urban and as a celebrity without staying power, but that wasn’t something I ever thought about.”

SEAN ‘DIDDY’ COMBS’ $1 BILLION FORTUNE AT RISK AFTER BOMBSHELL ALLEGATIONS: HOW MUSIC MOGUL CREATED HIS EMPIRE

“It brought that swagger of urban fashion and injected right into mainstream culture. Their timing was impeccable,” Ted Jenkin, president of Exit Stage Left Advisors, told FOX News Business.

Jenkin continued, “He really wanted rappers or hip-hop artists to have a seat at the table and not be considered just another Black-owned label. He wanted something that could rival brands, well-known brands at that time like Tommy Hilfiger.”

A sportswear collection debuted that year at Bloomingdale’s and the brand was a major hit, popular with celebrities, and it expanded into suits and high fashion.

Jennifer Lopez famously wore a white two-piece suit with the brand’s logo bedazzled across the top to the 2000 MTV VMAs.

Jennifer Lopez and Sean "Diddy" Combs holding hands on the red carpet

 

And before he was famous, Channing Tatum walked the runway in Sean John for their 2003 fall fashion show.

As late as 2015, Rihanna was seen wearing the brand’s signature velour track suit on the streets of New York.

Side by side photos of Channing Tatum modeling Sean John fashion and Rihanna wearing a pink Sean John track suit

In 2001, E!, in conjunction with the now defunct Style Network, simulcast a Sean John fashion show during New York Fashion Week, the first of its kind.

“We were making history. No other show had the kind of excitement that we were putting out there. The added pressure of being broadcast live and having so many of my friends there only made me elevate my game. Anna [Wintour] told me that we brought back the excitement to fashion week,” Combs told GQ.

RIHANNA IS OFFICIALLY A BILLIONAIRE

According to the New York Times, two years after that show, the Yucaipa Companies, a private equity fund operated by the California billionaire Ron Burkle, put a reported $100 million into the label. 

The brand continued to expand, creating a premium denim line and racking up Council of Fashion Designers of America – better known as CFDA – awards, beating out brands like Michael Kors and Ralph Lauren. In 2004, Combs became the first Black man to win in the menswear category.

Sean "Diddy" Combs at CFDA Awards podium

“I had been nominated for several years prior to winning and I kept going back because I knew we deserved the recognition. To be the first Black man to win this honor meant so much to me and the community I represent. The award solidified Sean John as a true fashion brand and not a fly-by-night celebrity-endorsed brand,” Combs told GQ of the honor.

Combs invested in then up-and-coming designer Zac Posen, further signaling his embrace of high fashion.

SEAN ‘DIDDY’ COMBS RETURNS TO SOCIAL MEDIA, RESTRICTING COMMENTS FOLLOWING HOMELAND SECURITY RAIDS

In 2010, Sean John made a deal with Macy’s to sell the brand’s sportswear collection exclusively, expanding its reach and influence.

By 2016, Sean John’s annual retail sales totaled $450 million, according to Women’s Wear Daily.

Chairman, President and CEO, Macy's, Terry Lundgren, Founder of Sean John, Sean "Diddy" Combs and Chief Merchandising Officer of Macy's Jeff Gennette attend the Sean John press conference

That year, Combs sold a 90% stake in the company to Global Brands, calling it a partnership that “provides us the opportunity to reach the Millennial customer on a global level,” according to Billboard.

The deal hit a rough patch in 2021, when Combs sued Global Brands over the use of his “Vote or Die” slogan, citing copyright infringement and the implication that using it with Sean John implied he was still in control of the brand.

MACY’S TO CLOSE 150 STORES BY 2026, OPEN NEW BLOOMINGDALE’S, BLUEMERCURY LOCATIONS

Global Brands filed Chapter 11 bankruptcy that same year, citing impact from the COVID-19 pandemic.

Combs bought the brand back in 2021, with a winning bid of $7.551 million, giving him control of the company again.

“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,” he said in a statement obtained by FOX Business at the time.

“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,” he added.

Sean Combs smiling

JESSICA SIMPSON USED HOME AS COLLATERAL TO BUY HER NAMESAKE COMPANY BACK: ‘TIME FOR US TO DO THIS ON OUR OWN’

Despite Sean John being in Combs’ control again, the brand continued to flounder. According to Bloomberg, Macy’s began phasing out the brand in fall of 2023.

“Big box retail stores are always considering what’s relevant and Sean John was no longer remotely popular with consumers. The brand lost its swagger,” Jenkin said.

It has since disappeared from the site. Sean John items still pop up in Google searches, but when the link is clicked, it takes users to a page that says the item is no longer available. The site’s in-store link to Sean John takes users to a general men’s fashion page with other brands, and searching for Sean John within the Macy’s site takes you back to the same page.

Sean John items remain for sale at Walmart’s online store, although many items are heavily marked down or available only in off-sizes.

Sean Diddy Combs during a panel

 

The fate of the brand remains to be seen as Combs faces the fallout from his legal troubles. Combs has been the subject of multiple lawsuits alleging sexual misconduct and last month, two of his homes were raided by Homeland Security officers in relation to a human trafficking investigation. 

The 54-year-old billionaire has denied all wrongdoing and has not been charged with a crime.

Currently, the Sean John brand’s Instagram page is empty, and the official website merely has a landing page that says, “I got my name back,” presumably referring to the brand’s name being inspired by Combs’ birth name, Sean John Combs.

“In light of recent events, it’s unlikely we will see the Sean John brand anywhere but on random websites and that includes Walmart,” Jenkin said.

“There’s always room for a comeback story, but the brand was already declining in value and not likely to make a rebound,” he added.

Read the full article here

spot_img

Share post:

Subscribe to our newsletter

To be updated with all the latest news, offers and special announcements.

Popular

More like this
Related

Why non-smokers don’t respond to treatments

Researchers report that people who have never smoked are...

Supreme Court strikes down federal ban on bump stocks

Join Fox News for access to this content You...

Where Conservation and Survivalism Overlap

The outsider might not think conservation and survivalism have...

Scientists find major cause that drives excessive inflammation

New research has elucidated how an already identified area...