Russell Simmons Debuts New Clothing Line

Russell Simmons is making another foray into the clothing business. His new collections of men’s and women’s sportswear, called Def Jam University, will be made by Kellwood, a $2.2 billion manufacturer and marketer of clothing and accessories.

The moderately-priced line will be featured in specialty and department stores. Simmons, pictured above, said he is aiming for the midtier market, where there is a tremendous void.

Def Jam University, or DJU, is a division of Phat Farm, the private company Simmons founded 11 years ago. Phat Farm sold $300 million in goods at wholesale prices last year, including 15 licenses. Within the first two years, DJU is expected to have annual sales of $100 million, according to Simmons and Kellwood CEO Hal J. Upbin. Plans are in the works for boys’ and girls’ lines in 2004.

Cracker Barrel faces more racial bias charges. Cracker Barrel is under fire again with allegations of racial discrimination. Twenty-three African Americans, who visited restaurants in Bryant and North Little Rock, Arkansas, have filed a lawsuit against the Cracker Barrel Old Country Store. The plaintiffs allege they received poor service compared to white customers. This isn’t the first time the Lebanon, Texas-based restaurant chain has faced charges of racism. A federal judge denied a class action status on Oct. 1, 2002, to a discrimination lawsuit filed in Georgia. The lawsuit, which was filed by 42 African American plaintiffs, including the NAACP, charged Cracker Barrel with discrimination that included denying services and seating customers in segregated sections. Two other unsuccessful lawsuits were filed in January 1999 and July 1999, the first alleging that black workers were paid less than white workers and the second alleging black workers generally received lower-end jobs as cooks and dishwashers.

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