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Damon Dash, the hip hop and fashion mogul who co-founded Roc-A-Fella Records and Rocawear, has found his next passion project. The entrepreneur is launching a shopping app that will allow fans to buy pieces that are featured on the shows on Dame Dash TV, a lifestyle TV network he launched last month with streaming television provider FilmOn, which is planning an IPO on the Nasdaq this month.
The service will become available on Black Friday, timed to the premiere of Too Honorable, an autobiographical film co-produced with Kanye West. Viewers will be able to purchase the clothes from the movie, which will be from Dash’s Poppington brand.
Though Dash is just now launching the app, the mogul says he’s had this idea brewing since the early 2000s when he produced indie drama State Property, which also shares its title with the film’s soundtrack, a clothing line and record label — all of which Dash was involved with.
“I always wanted people to be able to buy the stuff [when] they see it,” Dash tells Pret-a-Reporter. “I always look at the movie as the best commercial in the world. I also notice that whatever artist has a movie made about them, their merch skyrockets, like Johnny Cash.”
He continues, “I always knew that content was the best way to sell things, but my thing was, why sell other people’s stuff if I have a point of view?”
His latest label, Poppington, offers tees, fleece sweaters, hats, socks and women’s swimwear, which are all made in America, Dash says. He also has plans to launch a men’s cut-and-sew line that will be made to order, with prices from $80 to $100 for a cut-and-sew T-shirt. (For comparison, a non-customized tee would be $50.) Dash’s girlfriend, photographer and designer Raquel M. Horn, serves as creative director.
The entrepreneur is no stranger to the fashion industry, having previously launched Rocawear with Jay Z in 1995 before he was bought out of the company by the rapper in 2005. He also worked with ex-wife Rachel Roy on her namesake label and partnered with Charlotte Ronson on C. Ronson. Dash also partnered with West to purchase streetwear e-commerce site Karmaloop last March.
“What I’ve been noticing with the millennials is that they’ll pay for quality,” Dash explains, adding that being able to sell directly online erases the middleman and “you can sell something and make your full margin. There’s never off-price.”
Not unlike Dash, a number of designers, including Thakoon and Misha Nonoo, are now implementing the direct-to-consumer business model that were first embraced by digital-first companies like Warby Parker and Everlane. “It doesn’t always have to be this approach where someone’s presenting it,” he says. “I’d rather have people have the option of while they’re looking at something and go, ‘Oh, I like that jacket,’ and be able to buy it.”
As designers continue to figure out the format and sales models that work best for their brand, one can’t help but wonder if fashion weeks are as relevant anymore. For Dash, he thinks fashion week has “turned more into a celebrity thing to bring awareness,” arguing that a few years ago, “fashion was really about quality before celebrity. It didn’t matter how famous you were, you really had to have taste. It wasn’t about who had the best stylist, it was about who had the best point of view.”
However, he notes, “fashion week is always going to be necessary, but it’s not going to be for everybody.”
Indeed, Dash has created his own platform to showcase his own creations. The millennial-friendly programming, which caters to aspiring entrepreneurs, will feature the series Intelligent Boss Moves (starring Dash and Dr. Boyce Watkins, who will provide a blueprint to running a business) and Hip Hop Motivation (a talk show that will feature guests like rapper Cam’ron and boxer Andre Berto). Dash also announced Monday that he’s developing a TV series called Brutally Honest about the rise and fall of Roc-A-Fella.
“This is my point of view. I want to separate myself from what everybody knows me for so I can be what I want to be,” Dash says, making note of what viewers can expect from the costumes. “I’m in a lot of the content so I know how cool it looks. I know how cool I look when I look in the mirror.”
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