Cardi B definitely can live up to her lyrics of “I don’t dance now I make money moves” because she has been moving in the fast lane ever since “Bodak Yellow” dropped in 2017. Her rags-to-riches story, as a former stripper living in the Bronx, is no longer the only narrative that people are talking about. Her debut and only album, “Invasion of Privacy,” made her a triple-platinum-selling Grammy winner.
It’s very clear that Cardi B is here to stay, and she aims to cement her status as a business mogul through her latest Reebok partnership.
Since 2018 she has been working with the brand, starring in ad campaigns, but shoe design has always been a clear trajectory. The collaboration of the footwear collection has been in the works for nearly a year, and it will be her take on the classic Club C silhouette. The line will feature two styles – the Club C Cardi ($100) and the Cardi Coated Club C Double ($80), which will have three different colorways that will be available in both women’s and children’s sizing.
Cardi B made sure that she was heavily involved in the line.
Caroline Machen, Reebok’s global VP of marketing, said, “This has been a huge labor of love.” She added, “As a footwear design-driven company, we are always pushing our design elements, and when you have a talent like Cardi, who has this amazing creative mind and vision, of course, it made sense to bring those two together. It was the perfect melding.”
On Cardi B’s birthday (Oct 11), she teased her launch by releasing one colorway of her Reebook shoe; it sold out in 18 hours. According to the marketing platform Launchmetrics, her one Instagram post promoting the drop generated a total of $1.7 million worth of Media Impact Value.
Recently, Cardi’s creditability was questioned on social media. In late October, she was in a debate on if her love for Hermes Birkin bags is devaluing the luxury product.
“Why is it that you’re asking female rappers if they could get a bag from the Hermès stores? You don’t do this to these white celebrities. … Another thing they are saying is we depreciate the value. In hip-hop, when we mention brands, their shit goes up,” she posted in an Instagram video addressing the critics. She said after she rapped, “I like those Balenciagas, the ones that look like socks” in the “I Like It Like That” song, Balenciaga sales went up, and that’s the reason why the label worked with her this year.
Data has proven that Cardi can move merchandise in a fast-fashion space at a time when it’s becoming more difficult for celebrities to break into a highly competitive industry.
Her social media reach also adds to her allure for brands. According to a Social Studies Intelligence Report, her Instagram following grew nearly 50% over the past year, adding more than 25 million followers for a total of 77.8 million. During a single week in October, she had 40.82 million interactions spanning only 11 posts.
Social media is a Catch-22, however. It’s the beast that launched her into the spotlight before music stardom, and now it’s the petri dish for cancel culture that comes for her on a daily basis.
Though Cardi is no stranger to Internet trolls and criticism, she understands that there’s much more to lose.
“It’s hard. There’s a lot that I want to keep to myself when it comes to my personal life, but sometimes people get an inch of my personal life, and they start with the rumors. I feel like I’m going to shut it down and address it. That’s always been my issue,” she said. “Nowadays, you cannot even be real because if you don’t have the ‘popular answer,’ then it’s the wrong answer, and it could just jeopardize so many things, which is sad because I want to speak my shit. I want to be putting so many people in their place. There’s so many people that just have the most miserable comments, and they want you to feel miserable with them. It’s so hard. My realness bothers them, but I don’t give a damn.”
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Reebok doesn’t seem to care either. Since the 80s, pushing boundaries has always been the companies M.O. since it launched the freestyle, and it’s what they are betting on to be the winning formula in a saturated market of celebrity collabs.
Over the years, other artists have been making plays in the fashion industry, but only a few have reached the status of Rihanna’s Fenty or Kanye West’s Yeezy lines.
Machen shares the ingredients for a successful partnership, she said, “It boils down to two pieces: authenticity and shared values.” She added, “It can’t feel forced. Who Cardi is and what her fans love about her — those are the same values Reebok has. And then, it’s accepting and bringing that message forward into the product.”
Aside from bold style, what was most important for the rapper with this collaboration was attainability.
She said, “I remember when Reebok came out with hot-pink, neon-green styles, and I wanted them so bad, but I couldn’t afford them. My mom, she used to work and only wear black OG Reeboks, and that’s all she wore. She’d wear the same pair for like three years,” Cardi remembered. “Affordability is No. 1. I know where my fans stand. I wanted to make something so affordable so that they could have a piece of me. I always make sure it’s affordable even when it comes to my OnlyFans, my merch. I always say to keep in mind the price. These are my fans, I don’t want to be taxing my fans.”