How Jay-Z’s Reebok changed the way the sneaker industry works

Abu Mubarik March 21, 2024
Jay-Z. Photo: Wikimedia Commons/Flickr

Just when Jay-Z had become a global sensation and held in high esteem by music lovers, he also became a corporate favorite. He ratcheted up multiple corporate deals, which have today contributed to his billionaire status.

One of his early corporate deals was with the sneaker and apparel brand Reebok. The hip-hop megastar debuted his Reebok sneaker line in 2003, and it instantly became a global hit.

According to Nypost, the line of Reebok sneakers called the “S. Carter Collection” was named after Jay-Z’s birth name, Sean Carter. The brand reportedly became more popular than Reebok’s Allen Iverson basketball shoes. The Nypost in April 2003 noted that Jay-Z’s sneakers sold more than 10,000 pairs—about $150 a pop—within an hour when they hit store shelves.

“It’s a casual shoe,” Jay-Z told the Post. “It’s for a guy on the sidelines that can’t jump but still wants to look cool.”

Record executive Steve Stoute, who was working with the brand at the time, convinced the rapper to join Reebok. Jay-Z eventually signed a 50/50 partnership deal.

“Jay-Z’s not the ambassador of anything except himself. He was a partner. He was a 50/50 partner,” Stoute said in an interview on “Club Shay Shay.”

Jay-Z’s Reebok deal would pave the way for other artists to join the Reebok movement, especially when the brand was trying to appeal to younger hip-hop talents. Rapper 50 Cent was signed following Reebok’s unsuccessful attempt to sign prominent athletes, including LeBron James and Carmelo Anthony, who were with Nike.

According to Complex, the signing of Jay-Z and 50 Cent created a lot of buzz for Reebok, increasing sales by 11%. What is more, the signing helped the company experience a 20% gain in shares.

While Reebok’s partnership with Jay-Z turned out to be successful, it didn’t last long. They parted ways in 2006, and Jay-Z later secured a deal with Puma in 2018, which is still active. However, having his own sneakers paved the way for the likes of Kanye West, Kendrick Lamar, and Pusha T a decade later, making rappers also prominent in sneaker marketing and sales. 

Last Edited by:Mildred Europa Taylor Updated: March 21, 2024


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