In the early days of Kanye West’s career as a hip hop artist, he adopted the use of a bear mascot that ended up being on the cover of his first three studio albums, including his debut, The College Dropout (2004).
Designed, printed and shipped by Sam Hansen alongside his business partner Bobby Naugle, the so-called College Dropout Bear was used for various album cover art, videos, promotion and merchandise.
In recent months, the oldest of West’s four children with Kim Kardashian, North West, started channeling her dad’s mascot by donning the bear outfit and lip-synching along to some of his songs in TikTok clips this past Halloween.
So it seemed like the perfect time for Naugle to reconnect with North’s famous mom about getting her daughter some of the original merchandise from her dad’s early era.
On Friday, Kardashian took to her Instagram page to share her thanks and gratitude to Naugle for his generous offer, all while never asking for any money in return, according to the Skims founder.
Kim Kardashian took to Instagram on Friday to thank Bobby Naugle, a man involved in the designed and merchandise business for Kanye West’s early College Dropout Bear
In her Instagram post, Kardashian, 43, thanked Bobby Naugle for reaching out to her and offering to send some old Kanye West merch to her daughter North and her other three kids
The reality star thanked Naugle for sending her some old Ye merch, and then shared a picture of one of the rapper’s old shirts, along with a photo of Ye wearing it back in the day
KIm began by sharing a photo of herself posing arm-in-arm with Naugle when she shared her kind words about him and explained how he helped produce the mascot.
‘Bobby Naugle, who designed the college dropout bear in 2003 and worked on the tours in the early years handling the merch — reached out to me in 2022 because he wanted to gift North some of the original merch that he helped produce,’ she wrote in the caption. ‘He asked for nothing in return.’
She went on to explain how they never lost contact with each other over the course of the next year.
‘We stayed in touch since then and after being approached by a few collectors and auction houses regarding other collectables he owned from 2003–2005, which included first-hand sketched and Kanye’s original personal pink RL polo, Bobby felt it be most appropriate to give them to our kids, again, asking for nothing in return,’ she added.
The reality star and entrepreneur ended the post by thanking Naugle for his kind offer.
‘I would like to publicly thank Bobby for his kindness and generosity (it’s very rare in this industry), when he could have easily made a lot of money from selling off these items instead,’ Kim K wrote.
The Keeping Up With The Kardashian star also shared a photo of one of the early t-shirts Kanye West wore with his name and logo on the front that was sent to her, along with an old image of the rapper wearing it.
The mother of four, whom she all shares with Ye, also posted an image of that original pink RL Polo shirt that she mentioned in the caption, which was among the merch gifted to her, North, and her other three children: Saint, eight, Chicago, five, and Psalm, four.
The first commercial use of the bear mascot came on the the cover art for West’s debut single Through The Wire in September 2003.
The character would later appear on the cover art of West’s debut studio album The College Dropout in February 2004.
The album’s cover was handled by art director Eric Duvauchelle of Roc-A-Fella Records, which depicts the Dropout bear in a school gymnasium, wearing a suit coat, red t-shirt, and jeans.
Continuing with the so-called College Dropout Bear, West used it again for the cover of his sophomore LP, Late Registration in 2005, and the follow up Graduation in 2007.
North and her three siblings also got one of her dad’s favorite pink PL Polo shirts, along with other items that were part of the merch list in the 2000’s
The first commercial use of the bear mascot came on the the cover art for West’s debut single Through The Wire in September 2003, which led to it being used for the cover of his debut studio album The College Dropout (2004)
Continuing with the so-called College Dropout Bear, West used it again for the cover of his sophomore LP, Late Registration (2005)
The legendary hip hop star also used an animated version of the bear for his third stusio album Graduation (2007)
North has been channeling her dad’s mascot that culminated with a series of TikTok videos over the Halloween holiday in 2023
in the videos, the oldest of West and Kardashian’s four kids dances along to a few of her father’s songs dressed in the College Dropout Bear suit
Over the years the bear has become sort of an anthropomorphic symbol and character for Kanye West himself
Over the years the bear has become an anthropomorphic symbol and character for the rapper himself.
Just this past Halloween, a video was shared on the TikTok account that North shares with her mom, showing the 10-year-old dancing around while dressed as the bear featured on her dad’s third album, Graduation.
Complete with a gold watch and chain, North shared three videos in which she dances to her father’s songs I Wonder and Can’t Tell Me Nothing, as well as a sped-up version of Estelle’s 2008 hit, American Boy, which is a Graduation-era hit featuring the rapper.
The College Dropout Bear’s most recent appearances came with the promotion and artwork for West’s collaborative album Kids See Ghosts with Kid Cudi in 2018.