Local company gets custom order from rapper Jay-Z

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OGDEN -- Coleman Knitting Mills -- a small, family-run custom clothing shop in Ogden -- just got an exclusive order from rapper Jay-Z.

If you went to high school in Utah and got a letterman jacket, it was probably made by Coleman Knitting Mills. The company's been in business since 1947.

Coleman Knitting, located in Ogden, was founded in 1947 by William C. Coleman. It is now owned and operated by his grandson, Richard.

A representative for Jay-Z's new clothing line tracked an old letter jacket from the ‘70s to the shop in Ogden and ordered a batch of them for the musician's new clothing line. The Grammy Award-winning artist is also part owner of the New Jersey Nets NBA team and already owns the clothing line Rocawear.

When the rep called Richard Coleman, owner of Coleman Knitting Mills, about the order, Coleman admits he didn't know who Jay-Z was.

"Never heard of him," he said. "He told me somebody had found a jacket in a thrift store that had our label in it, and it was made back in 1971."

Now Coleman and his crew are making 88 jackets for a new clothing line Jay-Z purchased out of England, called Artful Dodger.

Who is... Jay-Z?
Jay-Z, or Shawn Corey Carter, is a rap artist and businessman with holdings in, among other things, record companies, a clothing line (Rocawear) and sports bars. He is also the part-owner the NBA's New Jersey Nets. He is married to R&B star Beyonce.

The jackets are all handmade with the best materials -- just like what's used in the letterman jackets and cheerleading outfits the company makes for Utah high schools.

That's what Jay-Z's representative liked about the jackets.

"He says, ‘I love the quality of your coat;' and he says, 'and I assume that the quality's still the same today.' I said, ‘Yes, it is,'" Coleman recalls.

Jay-Z was adamant the Coleman name remain on the jackets so people know they were made in America.

"This is how the original label was; my grandfather designed way, way back when," Coleman said.

In the next couple of weeks Coleman will ship out the jackets, hoping Jay-Z likes them enough to make another order.

The new Artful Dodger jackets will sell for about $400. Because only 88 were ordered, Coleman says he doesn't know if Jay-Z will want more or if it's a limited item.

Coleman finally realized who Jay-Z is with a hint from the rep: "He said, 'Well, do you know Beyonce?'And I said, 'Yes, I've heard of her.' And he said, 'Well, they're married.'"

E-mail: abutterfield@ksl.com


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