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Are Rappers Like 2 Chainz Killing Hip Hop’s Influence on Luxury Brands?

LeBron James in YSL t-shirt

“YSL belt buckle…” Shortly after this mention by G.O.O.D. Music’s 2 Chainz in his recent anthem “No Lie”, the announcement was made that Saint Laurent would undergo a brand revision.  Before Yves Henri Donat Mathieu-Saint-Laurent passed away in 2008, he was considered one of the greatest names in fashion history.

If you ask me, his existing marketing people are genius for the maneuver that they are currently executing. With little fanfare, they have jettisoned the abbreviation for the French luxury brand Yves Saint Laurent (YSL)  a purveyor of top end clothing, shoes, leather goods, and other accessories. Like Louis Vuitton and Gucci before it, the brand has infiltrated the hip hop lexicon.

If you Google the search for “YSL Rap”, you will get pages upon pages of references from the latest hip hop icons rapping. Hip Hip marketing icon, Steve Stoute coined the phrase The Tanning of America. Well, his hypothesis seems to be backfiring at this point. At least in the eyes of marketing executives at major luxury brands.

As the economy continues to stall and hip hop culture’s most important marketing audience (middle-class America) has less money to spend on luxury items that they shouldn’t, there is less of a need for their marketing appeal. In fact, one could argue that it has hurt the image of competing brands like Louis Vuitton and Gucci over the past years. Rappers spew the brand tags, line after line; it is free marketing for those that listen but it ostracizes the brands’ base – the wealthy.

With the exception of artsy, venturing rappers like Shawn Carter or Kanye West, who average between $30 and $100 million per year, brands seem to have a problem with hip hop’s enthusiastic adoption. Even Carter jettisoned Cristal to endorse (his own) “Ace of Spades” Armand de Brignac champagne, the $100,000 magnum of choice…

Read more: Web Smith


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