FUBU, the streetwear label that conquered hip-hop fashion in the ’90s, has relaunched through a capsule collection with retailer Century 21.
FUBU, which stands for “For Us, By Us,” was founded in 1992 by Shark Tank judge Daymond John, who brought on his friends J. Alexander Martin, Keith Perrin and Carlton Brown as partners.
According to Brown, the relaunch will provide an opportunity to officially reintroduce the brand to a younger demographic of consumers, while also capitalizing on the nostalgia of millennials who grew up with the brand.
“FUBU making a comeback will be great for the culture as a whole, it was such a prominent brand during my childhood,” said Florida A&M student Desmond Reid, Jr. “I believe with the right creative team, it can become popular and marketable again.”
With all the recent turmoil about the lack of cultural understanding surrounding luxury brands like Gucci, Prada and Burberry, the FUBU relaunch couldn’t have come at a better time.
The name of their capsule collection is called, “Can’t Resist A Classic,” and for most people this is true. It’s a play on retro FUBU styles including hoodies and sweatshirts covered with the FB logo. The line, which launched on March 1, is hoping to expand to more Century 21 doors and grow business on FUBU's e-commerce site. However, this time around the popular ’90s brand wants to expand beyond clothes. Its goal is to have FUBU hotels, radio, TV, a women’s collection, underwear and eyewear.
“I think as long as they’re avid and consistent on all platforms the company will do well,” said fashion and music enthusiast Kai Barnes.
When FUBU was hot, it was in over five thousand stores, and in 1998 its yearly sales were more than $350 million. Originally John was just selling printed T-shirts with words like “What happened to poor Rodney King?” and “Free Mike Tyson” at events and on street corners.
According to John, “this showed me something about the reason people buy clothes, that when there’s an emotional slogan or an emotional connection, products sell quicker. That’s when I started thinking about this concept of ‘For Us, By Us.”
Sadly, after a few good years the company lost about $5 million after releasing the compilation album “The Good Life” in 2001, which featured LL Cool J, Nate Dogg, and Keith Murray. John explained in a book he co-authored, “The Brand Within,” that one of the major factors that led to the company’s downfall is that they had too much product. “Once you hit mark-down bins, it’s tough to climb out, because you’ve lost the sense that your clothes are fresh and vibrant,” he wrote.
FUBU left the U.S market completely by 2003 — except for its footwear division — and built business in Asia and Europe. They’ve made attempts at comebacks and relaunches over the last couple years, collaborating with brands and retailers including Puma, Pyer Moss, and Urban Outfitters, but according to Perrin that was just testing the waters.
“I’m hoping with this relaunch, FUBU revamps their styles while still keeping their originality,” said University of Central Florida student Jayda Young.
The founders don’t believe the streetwear company has touched the surface on how big the company can get. And with luxury brands like Gucci, Burberry, and Prada making racially insensitive design decisions, it’s truly an interesting time to be a black-owned brand, especially with the “For Us, By Us” message.
However, Perrin wanted to make it clear that the brand isn’t only for people of color. “FUBU was always built on hip-hop culture. We were just trying to say that we are of the culture and for it.”