This summer, Barneys announced that Jay Z would be collaborating with designers (such as Balenciaga and Rick Owens) for the department store’s annual limited edition holiday collection, in a move that follows the increasing successes of hip hop collaborations in fashion – A$AP and Jeremy Scott, Kanye West and A.P.C and Giuseppe Zanotti, plus campaign promotionals like Alexander Wang using Azealia Banks as the face of his T by Alexander Wang line. Here’s a photo that Lucky Magazine posted to their instagram account of a snapback that’s part of the Jay Z collection for Barneys.
However, fans of the artist are calling for Hova to end the partnership after two cases of racial discrimination against two young black adults at Barneys were reported this week (for a great commentary on this, you can head over to Complex by clicking here). Both were questioned by police after purchasing designer items (a Ferragamo belt and Céline purse, respectively).
Derick Bowers, a “life long Jay Z fan”, has started a petition on Change.com urging Mr. Carter to end his partnership and “withdraw his support from Barneys New York because of this discrimination.” The petition has over 6,000 signatures, and Bowers has even created a t-shirt that aptly describes the situation, with the slogan “Barneys New
York Slaves.” This is paying homage, of course, to Kanye West’s song, “New Slaves” where the rapper states, “You see it’s broke n*gga racism, that’s that ‘Don’t touch anything in the store,’ and it’s rich n*gga racism, that’s that ‘Come in, please buy more.'”
It’s undeniable that something is uncomfortably wrong in this situation; how can Barneys racially profile young men and women of color, while championing a collaboration with Jay Z, a collaboration that will not only capitalize on the very lucrative trend of hip hop x fashion, but also aim to sell clothes to his audience – a demographic that largely includes the very people that they are racially discriminating against in their stores.