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Musicians sink feet into new shoe line

In the past, only famous athletes received their own shoe line. Now, thanks to artists like Diddy and Jay-Z, musicians now endorse their own shoe line specifically for hip-hop and rap artists.

The latest case of this merging can be seen in the marketing push. ‘The Fusion of Music ‘amp; Sneakers,’ sponsored by shoe retailer The Finish Line.

The merging of shoes and musicians began a few years back when Diddy’s Sean John, Jay-Z’s Rockawear and Russell Simmons’ Phat Farm, clothing lines first appeared.

With the success of this combination, other artists are cashing in and a plethora of merchandise is available to the public ranging from clothes to car accessories.

‘The Fusion of Music ‘amp; Sneakers’ brings popular brand names signing endorsement deals with artists such as Nelly, 50 Cent, Shakira, Snoop Dog and Missy Elliot, to name a few.

Elise Hasbrook, corporate communications manager for The Finish Line USA Inc., called this new trend a ‘shoe-tie in.’ She said it is always exciting to provide the customer with a new shoe, but the main purpose of this trend is to bring music into the stores, Hasbrook said.

The latest line hitting the market is the new Sean John shoe that is more casual than athletic with its suede appearance.

Other lines include Reebok sponsoring 50 Cent, Pony backing Snoop Dog and Adidas with Missy Elliot.

With these artists on board, record labels are accompanying stores like The Finish Line and supporting the trend. They give these stores the chance to sell the artists’ albums that are featured and also give more opportunities to customers through the ‘Summer of Sole’ sweepstakes.

One winner has the chance to see a concert anywhere in the country.

Other prizes includes free shoes for a year, while others win a kit including an MP3 player, a portable game player, $100 gift card for The Finish Line, a music download card and a gift card to F.Y.E.

Instead of touring the country supporting their music, artists are now touring supporting their line of shoes.

Diddy has made a few stops to support his Sean John Elite shoe.

Locally, two of The Finish Line stores will feature the debut of the Kanye West album tomorrow at 3 p.m.

Northland Center and Somerset stores will have a DJ on site to play the album.

Jon Fluellen, Somerset’s store manager, said there is a lot of excitement about these new shoe lines.

‘They attract the younger crowd,’ Fluellen said, and added the same demographic will be in the store tomorrow for the Kanye West debut.

With the trend growing stronger everyday, the once-popular Air Jordans, are being replaced with the SJ Elite and Reebok’s G-Unit shoe.

As artists become involved in these products, 2005 could be the year of the shoe.

If success continues, artists from other genres could venture into selling their own line of merchandise, but where it goes from here is up to the consumers, typically the 12- to 24-year-old demographic.

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