Jay Z announced on Friday he’ll move forward with a planned collaboration with Barneys New York despite recent allegations of racial profiling at the luxury store, an investigation into the claims and public pressure that he back out of the deal.
In a statement on his website, Jay Z said he’d agreed to move forward with next week’s launch of his BNY SCC collection under the condition that he helps lead the store’s review of its policies.
“The easy position would have been to walk away and leave policymaking to others hoping that someone addresses the problem,” said Jay Z. “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.”
He said 100 per cent of sales from the collection of clothes, accessories and jewellery will go toward his charitable foundation, which supports educational opportunities for disadvantaged students, and an additional 10 per cent of all Barneys’ sales during Wednesday’s launch day will also be donated.
Barneys New York said in a statement that it guaranteed raising a minimum of $1 million (Dh3.67 million) on Wednesday to be donated to the foundation.
“Barneys New York has zero tolerance for any form of discrimination,” the statement said. “As we have stated all along, if we learn any procedures or practices are not consistent with our zero-tolerance policy, we will immediately take corrective action including terminating those employees responsible.”
Last month, two black customers separately accused the luxury store of racial profiling after they said they lawfully purchased expensive items but were detained by police on suspicion of credit card fraud.
Trayon Christian sued Barneys, saying he was accused of fraud after using his debit card to buy a $349 Ferragamo belt in April. Kayla Philips filed a notice of claim saying she would sue after she was stopped by detectives outside the store when she bought a $2,500 Celine handbag in February.
Rob Brown, an actor who appears on the HBO series Treme, also filed a lawsuit in October against Macy’s, alleging he’d been similarly detained and questioned after he was stopped for possible credit card fraud while shopping at the department store. Brown is black.
Macy’s has said none of its employees were involved in Brown’s detention and questioning. On Friday, Barneys said its own investigation has determined none of its employees were involved in stopping Christian or Philips.
An investigation by the state attorney general’s office is “ongoing and active,” a spokeswoman said Friday.
New York Police Department Commissioner Raymond Kelly has said it is standard practice for retailers to call police if they believe crimes have been committed. The NYPD didn’t immediately respond to a message seeking comment on Friday.
Jay Z’s decision to not immediately bow out of his Barneys collaboration when the racial profiling allegations surfaced drew a firestorm of criticism on Twitter and an online petition that urged the rap mogul to bow out.