January 22, 1999 at 05:00 AM EST

Here’s what you won’t be seeing as part of Sean ”Puffy” Combs’ fashion collection: the flashy white getups that were part of the rap entrepreneur’s dress code at his Hamptons beach house last summer. The expensive leather jackets that Combs rarely leaves home without. And the double-breasted black suits that he sports in videos. Instead, Combs’ clothing collection — labeled Sean John (the hip-hop mogul’s real first and middle names) — is more like something your dad wears to a Sunday-afternoon barbecue. There are jeans (with fairly discreet logos), tees, leisure shirts, and fisherman caps, all under $100. ”It’s basically big, oversize clothes for all kinds of people,” says Kal Ruttenstein, senior VP of Bloomingdale’s, which (along with Macy’s and Fred Segal) will debut the line in March.

Make no mistake, the clothes may be casual, but Puffy, 29, wants Sean John to be a serious all-about-the-Benjamins business. He’s investing $2.2 million in ads starring himself and will rope in friends like Leonardo DiCaprio to don caps. True, the competition — CK, DKNY, and Tommy Hilfiger — has made billions selling to hip-hop fans. But according to Jeffrey Tweedy, exec VP of Sean John, Puffy’s line is where street clothes are going. ”Who needs another hip-hop line?” says Tweedy, who hopes to top a whopping $16 million in first-year sales. ”We’re calling this urban high fashion.”

Should a rapper who’s in danger of becoming such an overexposed celeb risk putting his name on yet another product? ”Celebrity things are always gambles if the hype outweighs the product,” admits Ruttenstein, ”but these clothes have a quality fashion quotient. We feel our customers will relate to it in a big way.”

BEST-CASE SCENARIO
Sean John becomes the new Izod.
WORST-CASE SCENARIO
Puffy’s samples from the ’80s include spandex.

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