Before he got into some very ugly, still ongoing drama with Blac Chyna, Rob Kardashian easily held down the title of the most low-key Kardashian-Jenner—to the point that, for a while, his major defining trait was that he designed luxury socks. Sadly, as of this Wednesday, that seems to be coming to an end: According to the Blast, Kardashian’s recent financial strife has forced him to sell half of his sock company, Arthur George, to his mother, Kris Jenner. (Adding insult to injury, he’s reportedly also had to move in with her.)
It’s certainly not the best time for Kardashian to lose out on a (potential) source of income: He’s currently wrapped up in a custody battle with his ex-fiancée over their 2-year-old daughter, Dream Kardashian. (He reportedly can no longer afford to pay the $20,000 expected of him every month for child support.) On the other hand, it might be good news for the company: Some of his most prominent family members have turned their backs on him as of late, with Kim even turning his name into an insult over the summer, when she and Khloé called their sister Kourtney “the new Rob.”
Over the course of its four-year lifespan, Arthur George—the name is a combination of both Rob’s and his late father’s middle names—has made an effort to reward those who’ve stood by its owner. Khloé has gotten a couple of shout-outs on the brand’s Instagram page, where his half-sister Kylie Jenner has also appeared. Indeed, she has even collaborated with Rob through Kylie Cosmetics, which is how some limited-edition pairs of socks for those looking to sport Kylie’s eerie likeness around their ankles came to be.
Predictably, though, the one who’s appeared most often on the page’s grid has been Kris Jenner, who promoted the brand to her 22 million Instagram followers as recently as last month. Indeed, astute Arthur George followers may not even find Jenner’s takeover to be a surprise: Practically every bit of non-sock-related content that’s appeared on the page has been a tribute to Jenner, whether for her birthday or Mother’s Day. (In return, Jenner has used the hashtag “#proudmama” to celebrate the socks’ sale at Selfridges, and has even worn an Arthur George onesie in public.)
Kardashian, who graduated from the University of Southern California’s business school in 2009, joined the many entrepreneurs in the family in late 2012, determined not to use the family name (though he was not above documenting his company’s inception on Keeping Up With the Kardashians). Arthur George was first inspired by the multicolored socks worn by Kardashian and his former brother-in-law, Lamar Odom. With a little help from Scott Disick, whose love of suits helped inform Kardashian’s approach to dress socks, and Kanye West, the family “fashion icon,” Kardashian eventually came to the line’s signature all-caps cheeky slogans like “DILF,” “MILF,” and “HOT TAMALE.”
Originally, he thought of all that as “just a starting point to doing apparel and street wear.” Alas, Kardashian barely got the chance to live out those dreams while maintaining full control of his company. He only managed to release a few slogan baseball hats (“LIT,” etc.) and several patterned onesies. Still, the socks found a footing in the market on their own: At one point, they could be found next to the designer goods sold at stores like Selfridges and Colette.
Kardashian now credits Jenner with the fact that Arthur George is still kicking: “When the business was struggling, my mother infused it with capital to keep it afloat, and from her infusion gained a 50 percent share in the company,” Kardashian reportedly says in the court documents that the Blast obtained, with Jenner adding that she acquired 50 percent of the business’s interest in exchange for her work and money. “Previously, the line’s success was in large part due to my regular posting and general promotion on social media,” Kardashian continued. “Angela [Blac Chyna]’s request for a restraining order against me includes various prohibitions on what I could post online. In order to avoid any potential future issues, I nearly eliminated my social media presence.”
Help may be on its way, but Jenner chose a tricky time to dip a toe back into the luxury sock market; whereas Kardashian was relatively alone in the field when he launched Arthur George, hordes of otherwise unrelated celebrities have since followed suit, ranging from the model Bambi Northwood-Blyth to the basketball player Dwyane Wade to the burgeoning retail queen Rihanna. The drawer is pretty full.