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In talks on Jay Z's Rocawear label developing EU presence

6 Mar 2013


Rocawear, the ‘music inspired fashion’ streetwear label, founded by music icon, Jay-Z in 1999 has announced plans for a new direction for A/W 13/14, where it will not only be looking to cement its position in the European market,

but has also started working with a new footwear licensee, Mainstreet Footwear to integrate footwear into its offering. We caught up Daisy Laramy Binks, head of Marketing of Iconix Europe, who will be overseeing Rocawear’s European developments.

you tell me a bit about the story/background/inspirations behind the designs for Rocawear A/W 13?

This season's collection is a bolder, more dynamic development of the Rocawear brand. Elevating our position in the streetwear market and exceeding consumer expectations, the collection focuses on key market trends but with the unique Rocawear twist in the form of stylised themes. The pinnacle collections, 'Cosmic Noise' & 'Astro Jungle', are key for 2013, as is the signature 'CRAY' headwear (based on the Jay-Z lyric).

How has it moved on in terms of fashion cut and design direction from previous seasons?
This collection is more fitted/tailored than previous collections, in-line with European styling. With each season, we look to move the brand forward - whether in terms of reflecting key trends or surprising our consumers with improved fits and a fresh marketing approach. We always look to protect the brand's key heritage message of 'music as a way of life' as well staying true to its Brooklyn-inspired roots in everything we do, yet recognise the need for brands to evolve to stay ahead of the trend curve.

You're working with a new footwear licensee (Mainstreet Footwear LTD), how did you originally link up and what plans do you have moving forward with the footwear?
We connected with Mainstreet at Bread and Butter in 2012 - Mainstreet have a great feeling for the brand and are very enthusiastic in their approach to marketing and promoting it with us. The new footwear collection is in its final development stages now and is looking very strong - we have started out with a solid foundation collection including desert boots, suedes, canvasses and trainers and, in the future, we aim to add more bold statement pieces in graphic-prints and colours which tie-in with the apparel offering.

How do you see Iconix and Rocawear as sitting well together?
Iconix Europe owns the Rocawear brand in partnership with Iconix Brand Group USA. The partnership owns and manages some of the highest-selling USA fashion brands in the world and is therefore extremely well-placed to take the Rocawear brand forward and position it as the must-have music-led streetwear brand, supporting it with strong marketing strategies and PR management.

With digital days truly upon us, fashion is seeing a crossover of many mediums from art, architecture, music - why do you think this is happening?
Each of the examples above, including and perhaps above all fashion, are highly creative industries, fast-paced by nature, but now with the advent of the digital age, faster than ever before. Fashion has to constantly look for fresh inspiration and much of this is now done online by brands' creative teams and designers. Tools such as Pinterest, Tumblr and Instagram which allow users to create trend/mood boards using images not just from the world of fashion but also from every day life, be it architecture, nature, foreign cultures or even sports or people themselves, are all promoting the cross-over between fashion and other mediums, as well as connecting brands to their target audience's collective minds and aspirations.

Street style is very much at its core, why do you think there has been a resurgence of interest in this casual/hip look?
Streetwear is very much the modern evolution of the urban look of the last decade - with its baggy styling and somewhat specific social appeal, it was a look which was never entirely embraced by the mainstream fashion world. Since then, music and fashion have fused more than ever before; out of this fusion we see the likes of Tinie Tempah emerge, with a modern take on the urban music genre, and wearing tailored high-fashion takes on the original look. Combining denim, tweed and even accessories like bow-ties or waistcoats and singing hip-hop/R&B would have been previously unheard of; now it is a style which is very much replicated by the likes of Urban Outfitters. Clothing has become less restrictive for men - it is more acceptable for them to display their unique sense of style and wear more eccentric items. Beyond this, streetwear is also a look which spans demographics; age, race, gender, fashion-taste - a store such as Topman used to sell more conservative menswear; now, much of their store could be attributed to a streetwear look, so diverse that it provides something for everyone, cementing its appeal.

How do you find the European market differs from the US in sell through?
Whilst the US will encapsulate a variety of tastes across its nation, Europe certainly has more marked differences in style appeal from territory to territory. To generalise, France tends toward subtle branding and closely fitted garments, Germany more towards the urban, Italy towards the heavily logo-ed, Scandinavia towards clean design. The UK is seen as particularly discerning and often leads current trends. In Europe, it could be said that we have to work that much harder to ensure we are hitting all the right notes in order to appeal to each market we enter.

Can you talk me through some of the ideas/plans behind your European market strategy?
The brand's evolution is absolutely key to our approach- our marketing campaigns are very much aimed at surprising the consumer with imagery that radically challenges their perception of Rocawear. We are also raising the calibre of distribution and are consequently in discussions with mid-high tier retailers and independents, partnerships to be announced shortly. In terms of further marketing support, we are looking at pop-up shops, both at a street level as well as within major department stores. A new European website will be launched shortly.
Iconix Europe
Jay Z