Americans are known as a forgiving people. In the latest test of that maxim, Michael Vick plans to launch his own clothing label, with the backing of celebrity clothing-line mogul Ruby Azrak and designs commissioned "to Vick's specifications."
It could be said that the star quarterback long ago put his past as a criminal dog abuser behind him. Nike last year picked up the endorsement deal with him that it previously had dropped, and Fuse Science started one. The Philadelphia Eagles committed as much as $100 million to him in a new contract. And he has been accepted on the speaking circuit by the Humane Society and other animal-welfare causes.
But Vick himself previously set the bar for complete restoration of his personal brand at the point where he could launch a successful apparel line. "Just like when you envision yourself having a shoe as a young kid, you also envision yourself going a step further and having a clothing line," he said, according to the Wall Street Journal. He also told WSJ he thinks his brand has been restored up to 75 percent of its previous status.
Vick's new line, V7, will be retailed by Modell's sporting-goods chain and backed by Azrak as well as former ICM talent agent Brian Sher. Azrak's company, Excel Corp., has exclusive rights to V7. Azrak partnered with Russell Simmons on Phat Farm and Baby Phat, brands that were sold in 2004. Sher, described in the press release as "Vick’s longtime friend and business partner," served as executive producer on Vick’s BET reality TV series, The Michael Vick Project.
In at least one way, V7 will be hedging its bet that the world is actually ready for a Vick clothing line. Twenty-five of the initial 30 Modell's offering V7, the Journal said, will be in the Philadelphia area. Modell's, which carries a range of Vick's NFL apparel, has exclusive rights to sell the V7 through the end of this year.
But Azrak is willing to bet that time is continuing to heal the wounds that Vick inflicted not only on animals and dog lovers but also the national consciousness. "He did what he did," Azrak told the newspaper. "The reality is that people forgive."
A picture posted on Vick's Facebook page shows how the V7 line is being launched at one Philly Modells store — mass market and accessible to all, which is just how Vick wants to reposition his personal brand. The slogan on the blue t-shirt is telling: "It's not how you start. It's how you finish."