As expected, Jay Z will launch his Barneys holiday collection next week, despite pressure to cancel the collaboration over recent complaints of racial profiling at the store. (In October, Trayon Christian, a black 19-year-old, said he was arrested after he purchased a $349 Ferragamo belt at Barneys; a few days later, 21-year-old Kayla Phillips, who is also black, was accused of credit card fraud when she bought a $2,500 Céline bag there.) Barneys and the NYPD have blamed each other for the incidents, and the New York attorney general is looking into the discrimination allegations. Meanwhile, Jay Z, who hasn’t commented much on all this, announced last night that he’d found a way to turn the ugly situation into something with the potential to do some good (both for others and for his image.)
A statement posted to Jay Z’s personal website says that Barneys has agreed to donate 100 percent of the collection’s sales, as well as 10 percent of all sales made at the store and Barneys.com on November 20, to his Shawn Carter Foundation, which provides scholarships to underprivileged youth. (Previously, the foundation was only set to receive 25 percent of sales generated by the partnership.) Additionally, Jay Z wrote that he “agreed to move forward with the launch of [the collection] under the condition that I have a leadership role and seat on a council specifically convened to deal with the issue of racial profiling… I will take this into my own hands with full power to recommend, review and revise policies and guidelines moving forward. I am choosing to take this head on.” Barneys followed with a statement promising that Jay Z’s “leadership in this process will further strengthen the industry’s ability to ensure that anyone who walks into a retail establishment is treated equally and with respect.” Just in time for the holiday (shopping) season.