Don’t Call It A Comeback…FUBU Is Making Its Return In Classic Style
FUBU is making its return to the marketplace. Founded in 1992 by Daymond John, J. Alexander Martin, Keith Perrin, and Carlton Brown as a hat company based out of Hollis, Queens, New York, FUBU (an acronym for “For Us By Us”) became a fashion staple during the 1990s street-wear scene. By the early 2000s, the brand had permeated the global mainstream.
Artists such as E-40, Snoop Dogg, Busta Rhymes, Ol’ Dirty Bastard, Mariah Carey and *NSYNC were seen in music videos and paparazzi photos, all sporting the brand, sometimes from head to toe in hockey jerseys, hats, jackets – you name it. It was all part of the strategy.
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According to CNBC, “During his off hours, [Daymond] John would hit music video sets and try to coax rappers to wear FUBU apparel in the shoot.” LL Cool J, a major proponent of the street brand, even starred in a Gap commercial in 1999 sporting a FUBU hat, without Gap executives knowing of its significance.
But, as evidenced by its downfall of popularity throughout the years, the company couldn’t sustain its success. “The biggest mistake we made with the brand was buying more inventory than we needed,” Daymond John recently told Complex. “This was around 2001.”
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In 1995, a few years after John mortgaged his house for $100,000 to invest into FUBU with his business partners (and run the company out of that same house), South Korean company Samsung became investors of the company. By 1998, FUBU was totaling $350 million in yearly sales. But after a few missteps and investing $5 million into a compilation album titled The Good Life in 2001, the company decided to pull from the American market in 2003.
Over the last few years, FUBU has been trying to make its way back into the public consciousness. Solange’s 2016 track “F.U.B.U.” might’ve been scratching the nostalgic surface, but John, Brown, Perrin, and Martin have been crafting collaborations with Urban Outfitters, Puma, Pyer Moss.
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Now, thanks to the aid of fellow New York retailer Century 21, FUBU is officially back and selling a new line titled “Can’t Resist A Classic.”
This new line of clothing features the classic FUBU logo on the typical FUBU garments: a t-shirt, a hat, a football jersey, and a long-sleeve shirt. The line will be sold in Century 21 stores, as well as FUBU’s official website. According to Complex, clothing is just at the forefront of the operation – the company plans to expand into licensing deals that includes suits, underwear, a women’s line, and eyewear, as well as Fubu Radio and Fubu TV. Eventually, the company also wants to create hotels.
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“We feel like we haven’t touched the surface on how big it can be,” said Brown. “Fubu is not just a clothing line. It’s radio, television, and hotels. It’s a lifestyle that can play [in] many categories.”
Although the company pulled out of U.S. markets, FUBU has managed to stay afloat thanks to international licenses. FUBU still sells in South Africa, Japan, China, Saudi Arabia, and Korea, where it exists as a skate brand.
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“I think overseas respects and values the hip-hop culture in America, and Fubu is synonymous with Hip-Hop and streetwear,” said John. “But today I consider Fubu American classics. I mean, there was a time when we had a really successful bedding line.”
FUBU, a Black-owned business, has been known to be an acronym meaning “For Us By Us,” but John has disputed this in public via TMZ. Today, the company wants to send a more inclusive message across.
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“Fubu was always built on Hip-Hop culture,” Perrin said. “When we came up with the name, we were thinking about how we spend so much money making other brands rich, but it wasn’t only meant for Black people. We were trying to say that we are of the culture and for it.”