Kanye West is looking to staff up his forthcoming fashion company. For help, he’s tapping the Web’s biggest résumé nerve center: LinkedIn.
Two ads appeared on the site over a week ago by Decision Toolbox, a staffing firm in Irvine, Calif., that are looking for people to be chief financial officer and vice president for production at what is vaguely called the “Kanye West clothing project.” “[U]nlike those in which celebrities merely lend their name to a label, this venture will have the star power of Mr. West’s artistic vision at the heart and soul of it,” the ads say, although they neglect to mention that sometimes that vision is just a white T-shirt.
When asked if the posts were real, Decision Toolbox said that they were and that the person behind the new Kanye line was Richard Dent III, the former chief operating officer of Victoria Secret’s PINK line who since 2012 has been the chief executive of custom menswear company Astor & Black. Dent did not reply to e-mails asking him to explain the new venture, so it’s unclear if Astor & Black is producing the line for Kanye or if the rapper is creating it himself and has just put Dent in charge.
Kanye has been trying to break into the fashion business since at least 2009, when he teamed up with Nike to design the Air Yeezy, a $215 sneaker that became so popular on resale sites that some pairs sold for more than $1,000. When the Air Yeezy II came out three years later, the New York Post reported finding the shoes for $6,000 on eBay.
But things didn’t go so smoothly when Kanye tried to become a women’s fashion designer. In 2011 his first line of clothes, Dw Kanye West, made its debut in Paris to ridicule. The clothes were ill fitting in a dismissed Project-Runway-contestant kind of way, although to Kanye’s credit he did include a shark hoodie and a fur backpack. He presented another collection during Paris Fashion Week in March 2012 that was a little better, but he then skipped out on the following fall’s Paris Fashion Week amid rumors that his days as a designer were over. In July, Kanye was back with a small line launched in collaboration with French clothing brand A.P.C. that featured $280 hoodies and a $120 white cotton “hip hop T-shirt.”
Astor & Black is a custom menswear company that, according to its website, creates fully tailored suits ranging from $650 to $18,000. Kanye has worn Astor & Black in the past, so he’s at least familiar with the brand. But hiring people off LinkedIn for an unnamed project seems like an ill-advised move for such a high-profile celebrity. Then again, LeBron James tried to hire an intern off Twitter.