There are a few things about the FUBU clothing brand that stood out: they had the coolest sweater vests and hockey jerseys, “Fatty Girl,” a single from the clothing line’s FUBU Compilation album was and still is THE BOMB.
They had women with voluptuous bodies that are actually theirs and not surgically altered.
Additionally, LL Cool J rocked his FUBU clothing line to the fullest and it paid off big. LL also had the coolest wardrobe on the UPN hit show, In The House.
Back in the early stages of the FUBU brand in the 90s, FUBU’s founder, Daymond John, now most recognizable from the hit show, Shark Tank, had a vision.
He stuck to it: create quality clothes at a fair price.
The Queens, NY native balanced time working full-time as a manager at a local Red Lobster restaurant and investing into the FUBU brand.
He and his Queens, NY buddies J. Alexander Martin and Keith Perrin invested into that vision by actually hand-sewing hats, and T-shirts and selling them at New York Coliseum and making a pretty penny, daily.
Their hard work would pay off. But they also got a huge mainstream co-sign from fellow Queens representer, LL Cool J.
LL Cool J recorded a 30-second ad for The Gap, where he name dropped FUBU by saying “for us, by us” in his lyrics while wearing a FUBU hat.
The Gap fell asleep at the wheel and didn’t realize it until months later. Winner, winner, chicken dinner!
“He looked at us and saw the determination in our eyes,” FUBU’s Keith Perrin told me on Scoop B Radio.
LL Cool J was at the top of his game at the point. He was transitioning from rapping to acting.
According to Perrin, companies like Nike and Timberland were looking to do partnerships with LL. But the rapper, turned actor remained loyal to the hometown guys. “He’s from Queens just like us,” said Perrin.
Perrin vividly recounts giving LL Cool J his first endorsement check while he was on the set taping the video for his hit, “Phenomenon.”
“I went out there and gave him the check in an envelope,” he said.
“And he said: ‘what’s this?’ And I said: ‘this is the first distribution check.’ So he sits down and opens the envelope and says: ‘man, we making this kind of money from clothes?!’ It was $75,000 dollars and he says tell Damon [John]: ‘I need a red Ferrari!’ And I was like: ‘L you just got $75,000, you can put a down payment on your own Ferrari.’ But it was just an amazing thing and an amazing time and he’s a great guy, The dude is 100 percent loyal and dedicated to the brand.”
What a great story. Today, the brand is reportedly worth $6 billion.
FUBU is also featured at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African-American History and Culture.