The rapper has just bought back control of the game-changing 00s label
That nobody thought to wear Sean John at this year’s all-American Met Gala was a missed opportunity. Founded in 1998, Diddy’s clothing line was pioneering in its marriage of streetwear, high fashion, and star power. Long before celebrity-owned brands – and Kanye West – were the norm, the rapper made cloth from his credentials, transforming fashion shows into must-watch television, while positioning urbanwear (as it was then known) alongside European maisons.
Denim was a bedrock of the business, as were imposing, fur-trimmed coats worn with little more than a medallion-style necklace, and luxurious velour tracksuits. It’s a look which still carries weight today: the Telfar and Moose Knuckles collaboration is essentially an homage to the New York streetwear aesthetic that brands like Sean John legitimised. And since remakes, reboots, and revivals are practically a cottage industry in and of itself, it’s not surprising that Combs has felt compelled to buy back his label. As of today, the rapper has regained rights to Sean John, inking a clunking $7.551 million deal.
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Beloved by real people and industry bigwigs alike, within two years of its launch, Sean John was carried in 1,200 stores and had sales of 200 million dollars. In 2004, Combs bagged the CFDA’s top menswear designer of the year award, beating out Ralph Lauren and Michael Kors. In recent years, however, the label has become lost to time. In 2016, Combs sold a 90 per cent stake in the business to Global Brands Group, though that relationship allegedly began to sour when the conglomerate launched a collaboration with Missguided. The rapper hit the firm with a lawsuit earlier this year, accusing its board of “false endorsement, misappropriation of likeness, and violating (his) publicity rights”. And although four other parties reportedly put in offers to save the brand from bankruptcy, it was Combs that prevailed.
“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.”