To celebrate 20 years of its existence, an oral history takes cues from Fonzworth Bentley, the brand’s president Jeffrey Tweedy, supermodel Naomi Campbell, and Diddy’s son Christian Combs (who revealed Sean John was initially named Christian Casey LLC). The Bad Boy captain not only blew the dust off of Sean John’s inception but revisited the time his first full foray into the fashion industry cemented his brand’s undeniable arrival.
After years of attending the Council of Fashion Designers of America showcase (CFDA), Diddy became the first African-American designer to receive the title of Menswear Designer of the Year in 2004. Described as a “Jackie Robinson moment” by Bentley, the acclaimed producer bested Michael Kors and Ralph Lauren, as noted by CBS at the time.
“I had been nominated for several years prior to winning and I kept going back because I knew we deserved the recognition,” he said to GQ. “To be the first black man to win this honor meant so much to me and the community I represent. The award solidified Sean John as a true fashion brand and not a fly-by-night celebrity-endorsed brand.”
Lionized businessman Steve Stoute, also shared how Sean John “revolutionized” the fashion industry. “The designers before him, urban designers before him – Karl Kani, FUBU and Cross Colors – that stuff existed, but what he did, which made it revolutionize fashion, was [take] it from being urbanwear to being positioned as a designer,” Stoute said. “It’s almost like if you look Black Panther today. It’s like, ‘Oh wow, you can have a black man worth $200 million, you can have a whole black brand.'”