Common Launches New Upscale Hat Collection
Published: Thursday, February 8, 2007
Updated: Saturday, August 9, 2008 23:08
In addition to hip-hop artist, actor, activist and AIDS awareness spokesman, Grammy-nominated rapper Common can now add fashion designer to his list of accomplishments.
Common, born Lonnie Rashid Lynn Jr., officially launched his new Soji hat collection on Jan. 23 in New York.
In an interview with AllHipHop.com, Common explained his motivation for creating the hat line.
"I love hats man, I been wearing them for so long, and people always ask me where I get my hats from. So, why not just design something," Common said.
In choosing the name for the new hat line, Common did not have a deep, thought provoking meaning for it. Asked how he thought of the line's unique name, Common said that Soji is the name of his next door neighbor and he really loved the name.
Customers can expect the collection to be similar to Common's own personal style. It is fashionable, hip and has a range of patterns and designs.
Common's pricey line will be sold exclusively at La Coppola Storta stores, a trendy hat retailer with locations in Palermo, Roma, Firenze, Bologna, and New York City's Soho district.
With competition of popular hat brands such as Ed Hardy and Von Dutch, will Soji be able to keep up?
Jazzmyne Townsend, a sophomore marketing major and frequent buyer of the latest hats, seems to thinks so. As a fan of Common, Townsend predicts his success. "[Common] will do well. That style fits him. He's well known and has good music, so I think people will support him," Townsend said.
Despite the expensive pricing of the Soji collection, Townsend said she would not mind spending $70 or more for a hat she likes. She does, however, believe the line should be made available on the Internet for those who do not live near La Coppola Storta stores.
Al Nice, a manager of Up Against the Wall located on Georgia Avenue, said proper marketing is key to success. He described Common as a "mad hatter" since he first stepped onto the entertainment scene, someone who always wears a unique and stylish hat.
"People are willing to pay more money as long as there's quality," he said. Nice added that celebrity-endorsed fashion lines usually do well when the right market and targeted consumers are selected.
Asked if the selected locations were a good choice to launch Common's Soji hat line, Titilola Laosebikan, a junior advertising major and fashion merchandising minor, said no. Since Common is new to the fashion industry, she think he should "go where he knows" rather than "following the crowd" to the capital fashion district.
"His market that he's focusing on is all wrong," Laosebikan said. "Why not [launch the Soji Collection] in his hometown Chicago? What made him decide to start in New York?" Laosebikan added that since the public is not too familiar with Common's ability to design fashion, it would have been better for him to begin in a smaller market before trying to reach such an experienced clientele.
Despite Common's new entrance into the industry, Laosebikan does see a future for Soji hats on Howard's campus. "Howard students are trendsetters," she said. "They take pride in trying different things."