The Second Coming Of FUBU


Taking a look at the rise, fall, and rise again of the classic brand

Last September, to the sounds of a church choir singing Kendrick Lamar's "Alright," Pyer Moss' Kerby Jean-Raymond's runway show featured looks from a Black-run fashion brand that wasn't his own, one that many of those watching—myself included—hadn't seen in years: FUBU.

"Kerby had reached out to us and said he would like to set up a meeting and discuss his ideas," Keith Perrin, co-founder of FUBU, tells us. "He came down and explained why he wanted to do a collaboration and said that [it was because the] people that came before him don't get enough attention; that they really don't give us our props when it comes to the impact we made on the fashion industry." Perrin says he and the other FUBU founders agreed. "They always said we weren't real fashion, but at the same time we made $6 billion doing it."

FUBU launched as an apparel company in 1992 by Daymond John, J. Alexander Martin, Carlton Brown, and Perrin. Outside of Martin, who was going to FIT at the time, "no one was really formally educated in fashion," Perrin explains. But that didn't matter. They were determined to carve out a space in the industry for their people—the hip-hop generation, the Black community—at a time when many companies were trying to shut them out. Perrin recalls: "There was an article talking about a company that didn't want the inner city kids to wear their boots. We were like, 'What are you talking about?' Everybody had on Timberlands at the time, so we couldn't really understand why they would make that statement." Stemming in part from their frustration, the group decided to stop making these people who, he says, didn't really care about them, rich. "We needed to make a company for us, by us."

Outside of Black-owned brands like Cross Colors and Karl Kani, which the guys gleaned inspiration from, they didn't have a lot of guidance for how to turn their idea into a tangible business. So, let's just say, there was a very sharp learning curve in the beginning that included burning unused fabric, the fire department, and many fines. "It was more trial and error," Perrin says. "I think that's why we kept stopping and starting, we didn't have the funds to keep going. We were making those mistakes early on that cost us a pretty penny, but they were valuable lessons to be learned." Since they didn't have a designer amongst the group, they started out with two designs that they slapped on everything from T-shirts to hats and hockey jerseys. It wasn't until they signed a deal with Samsung in 1995 that they were able to hire the help they needed and really get creative. Then, the department stores came calling.

"We were so popular that we kind of created the urban market in department stores," Perrin says. Prior to FUBU, stores like Macy's and J.C. Penney were dominated by brands like Tommy Hilfiger and Ralph Lauren, which didn't really mesh with the FUBU vibe. So, when department store heads asked Perrin and his team what other brands they wanted to surround themselves with, they decided to recommend popular hip-hop brands like Pelle Pelle and Mecca. "We thought it was healthy competition to include them into that fold because some of them didn't have the opportunity or connections to actually get into these departments," Perrin says. "So, by us telling the buyers, 'Go get these guys,' that's what they did, and that's how the whole urban department was made back then."

And it only grew from there. The brand had its biggest peak in the late '90s and early aughts, with pieces worn by everyone from Destiny's Child to, oddly enough, *NSYNC. But the brand's biggest endorsement came by way of LL Cool J who, somewhat controversially, wore a FUBU hat in a commercial for the Gap (and slid in the line "for us by us, on the low"), which reportedly resulted in FUBU grossing $350 million in worldwide sales in 1998. Not much later, brands like Phat Farm, Rocawear, and Sean John also launched. "I remember talking to Diddy, and he was like, 'Man, you guys are killing it out here, getting all this money from clothing?' And before you knew it, he had a clothing line," Perrin says. These brands became part of the hip-hop lexicon, worn proudly not only because the clothes were great, but also because they were Black-owned. "For us by us" didn't just apply to FUBU anymore, it became a widespread initiative.

Then, the bubble popped. Over time, people moved away from wearing oversized jerseys and fitted hats. It happens: Fashion is cyclical, and trends come in and out of style. That's part of the reason why FUBU fell by the wayside, but Perrin has some other theories for the brand's dip in popularity. The first is that they oversaturated the market and "opened up too many doors for too many people." The second is a move the team made in order to get rid of extra inventory. It was around Christmas time, so they decided to donate items to shelters. "Next thing I know, we had people calling and saying, 'You've got homeless people out here wearing FUBU!'" He recalls. "I didn't really think about it at the time, I thought I was just doing a good deed, but people started to associate it with people that shouldn't be wearing it and then they didn't want to wear it anymore."

So, for some time, the team decided to put FUBU on pause and pursue their own endeavors separately. John joined Shark Tank, Martin started working on a TV network, Brown was trying to build the brand's first hotel, and Perrin started FUBU radio. "We were trying to spread it out and reinvent ourselves," Perrin says. Then, streetwear and nostalgia came back in style and "old-school" brands like Fila and Champion started popping up again.

Perrin says they attempted a relaunch in 2008, but they didn't put a lot of effort into it. Ultimately, it was the fans who ended up fully coaxing FUBU back. "I run the brand's social media, and I was getting messages like, 'I bought everything off eBay and I can't find anything!' or 'I went to every thrift store I can find, I can't find any more FUBU, make a new line,'" Perrin says. "We listened to that for about a year, and then we were like, 'Okay, I think these guys are ready.'" They had companies like Puma and Urban Outfitters reaching out to collaborate, but they started small, with capsule collections. Because even though Perrin says the popularity of the brand never died overseas, they recognized that, here, "it was dead in the water." "At the time, we didn't want to jump back in, make a bunch of product, and it doesn't sell," he says. "Let's test the waters, gauge it, and see what consumers think of us now." Once they knew people were hungry for the product again, that's when they decided to dive in and make a comeback in a big way, which is where the brand's recent partnership with Century21 comes into play.

FUBU x Century 21 | #CantResistAClassic

The new launch doesn't just include clothes, but also eyewear, underwear, watches, and suits; with a women's line coming soon after. Pieces will be offered at a discounted price, but with the same quality. "It took us about two and a half years to get this ball rolling, so I'm excited," Perrin says. Of course, there's a chance that a FUBU comeback could flop, but that won't change the fact that the brand's legacy has already impacted the culture in ways both big and small.

"We had our time, and we did the damn thing," Perrin reflects. "We were very successful, put people through college, started a lot of people on their own businesses, we were content. You can't make someone appreciate you, you just have to be comfortable with what you're doing and what you've done." And, during a time when it seems like most big brand fashion names don't care about offending the very people fawning over their products, there's perhaps no better time to support those who have always been for us and by us.

Screenshot via YouTube

And I need to see the rest ASAP

As excited as we already are for Olivia Wilde's directorial debut, Booksmart, to hit theaters next week, we just got even more desperate to see it. Why? Well, the first six minutes of the film were just released, and every minute is incredible.

The film opens on Molly (Beanie Feldstein) meditating and listening to a motivational tape telling her she's better than everyone else, and to "fuck those losers." Her room is decorated with pictures of Michelle Obama and RBG, so we know her head is in the right place. We learn she's the class president when she arrives at school with her best friend, Amy (Kaitlyn Dever).

It's there that we get a glimpse of the social hierarchy in which Molly and Amy exist—but somewhere down near the bottom, way below the popular kids, the theater nerds, the stoners, and even the annoying class clown.

The film officially hits theaters on May 23, but Annapurna Pictures is holding advanced screenings across the country today, May 17—we're actually holding two of them! So, if you're in L.A. or New York, check them out.

But also, you can watch the first six minutes of the film, below, and prepare yourself to watch the whole movie in a week.

BOOKSMART | Uncut First 6 Minutes

Photo by Rich Polk/ Getty

Her hypocrisy would be mind-blowing if it weren't so predictable

It's been just over two years since Tomi Lahren appeared on ABC's The View to assert that, despite her ultra-conservative bona fides, she holds one position more normally associated with the left wing: She's pro-choice. In that talk show appearance, Lahren made clear then that her pro-choice views were consonant with her self-identification as a "constitutionalist," further explaining:

I am someone that's for limited government. So I can't sit here and be a hypocrite and say I'm for limited government but I think the government should decide what women should do with their bodies." I can sit here and say that as a Republican, and I can say, "You know what? I'm for limited government, so stay out of my guns, and you can stay out of my body as well."

Back then, we noted the hypocrisy inherent to that position, since Lahren was an ardent supporter of President Trump—who made no secret of his desire to appoint anti-abortion judges to the Supreme Court and other judicial benches—and Vice-President Pence, whose anti-abortion views are even more ardent.

Since Lahren's appearance on The View, she has appeared in the anti-abortion film Roe v. WadeRoe v. Wade, which co-starred fellow execrable conservative troll, Milo Yiannopoulos, and, um, Joey Lawrence. Though the film has not yet been released, it is alleged to contain "several graphic scenes depicting aborted fetuses," and also the acting styles of Jamie Kennedy, so we're not sure for whom it will really be appropriate.

But while Lahren's role in that film would be enough to make anyone question just how committed she is to her alleged pro-choice stance, the recent news about de facto abortion bans in Alabama and Georgia has incited Lahren to speak out about her views once again.

On Twitter, Lahren opened herself up to "attack[s] by [her] fellow conservatives" and spoke out against the Alabama abortion ban as being "too restrictive." And, indeed, her "fellow conservatives" did quickly attack Lahren for not actually caring about human life, and for having too liberal a position on whether or not a woman should be forced to continue a pregnancy that resulted from rape. But then also, as Lahren must have known would happen, other people supported her for... not having one irredeemably monstrous position amongst her arsenal of irredeemably monstrous positions.

But, let's be clear: Tomi Lahren is not—no matter what she tweets—pro-choice, and neither is any supporter of the Republican Party. There is no doubt that there are Republicans who are in favor of safe access to abortion—particularly when it comes to themselves and their family members having said access. But by supporting the Republican Party, they are showing how little it actually matters to them, and showing what it is that they really prioritize over women's safety and freedom: namely, access to guns, bigoted immigration policies, the continued disenfranchisement of voters across the country. I could go on, but there's no need.

Lahren's tweet doesn't reveal in any way that she's an advocate for women's rights, all it reveals is her hypocrisy and that of anyone (Meghan McCain, hi), who would love to have a world created specifically for their needs, and who is willing to sacrifice the rights of the less privileged in order to secure their own. It is despicable and dangerous and incredibly predictable. But, at least, it might give Lahren something to talk about on the red carpet with her fellow anti-abortion movie costars, if that film ever gets more than a straight-to-video release.

If you want to find out how to help women have access to abortion, please visit here for information about donating and volunteering.

Diplo, Vince Staples, and Rico Nasty also appear

Lil Nas X went all out with the visuals for his hit "Old Town Road," tapping all of his newfound collaborators and friends, like Billy Ray Cyrus, Diplo, Vince Staples, and Rico Nasty, to star. The movie travels from 1889 Wild Wild West to the modern-day city outskirts, so saddle up and come along for the ride.

As the visuals start, Nas and Cyrus gallop away with a bag of loot, obviously having pulled off a heist. The trio of men on horseback that were in pursuit of them come to a halt, unable to catch up, and Chris Rock—the leader of the group—states, "When you see a Black man on a horse going that fast, you just gotta let him fly." Just as Nas and Cyrus think they're able to relax in stranger's home, it turns out the homeowner isn't so friendly. Nas jumps into a hole to escape, only to end up hundreds of years in the future on the other side.

Forget trying to figure out the logistics of time travel, and just embrace the hilarity of Nas' horse also having wound up there, and in peak racing condition. He impresses the locals not only in the race (with Vince Staples losing money in a bet against him) but with his sweet square dancing skills. Once he and Cyrus (yes, he time traveled too) trade out their old-timey duds for some fresh, rhinestone-adorned outfits, they enter a room playing bingo with Rico Nasty in it. Diplo is playing the washboard, I feel like I'm losing my mind, and this is probably the best music video I've watched this year.

Watch the movie for "Old Town Road" again and again, below.

Lil Nas X - Old Town Road (Official Movie) ft. Billy Ray Cyrus

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Screenshot via YouTube

They really "don't care" about how this was edited, do they?

Ed Sheeran and Justin Bieber used the name of their song as inspiration for the "I Don't Care" music video, and have presented what is essentially a long blooper reel of the pair messing around with a green screen.

The visuals show how dedicated the two are to proving just how much they don't care, because I'm pretty sure they did the editing on this video as well. They dance around in costumes, as an ice cream cone, a panda, a teddy bear, and more. I have a clear vision of Bieber and Sheeran raiding a costume shop just an hour before setting up a tripod and going to town on this one. They also juxtapose their faces on top of a ballerina, a skydiver, and a corn inside the husk.

Blink, and you'll miss the funniest moment of all in the video: Ed Sheeran gets married to a cardboard cutout of a young Bieber with swoopy hair.

Watch the visuals for "I Don't Care" below.

Ed Sheeran & Justin Bieber - I Don't Care [Official Video]

Photo by Jena Cumbo

Her new LP, 'Take Me to the Disco,' is her most personal work yet

Meg Myers isn't afraid to admit she's still figuring out who she wants to be. Originally from Tennessee, Myers moved to Los Angeles at the age of 19 to dedicate her life to her music career. In 2012, she released her first EP, Daughter in the Choir, which set the groundwork for the releases of Sorry (2015) and Take Me to the Disco (2018). Well-known for her poetic lyrics, crude vocals, and cover of Kate Bush's "Running Up That Hill," the honest singer-songwriter makes a point to tell me that self-acceptance is a process. After listening to her deeply personal LP, Take Me to the Disco, I know she's not wrong.

In the middle of producing her new forthcoming music, the star opens up to NYLON: "I've always been able to channel [more painful moments in life] into my art. Music always stood out to me as the easiest way to capture all the emotions at once in one piece. Music for me is wild and free." It's clear that it is this fearlessness to self-reflect that not only makes her body of work so authentic but also what motivates her to continue to grow.

Below, we speak with Myers about her new music, self-love, and her ever-evolving relationship with creativity.

The Great Eros Pants, Chae New York top, Schutz shoes, and Via Saviene rings. Photos by Jena Cumbo

How did moving to Los Angeles influence the artist you are today?
I feel more safe here. I've been tapping more into my truth and expressing myself on a deeper level here. Growing up, my family was very chaotic, and I never knew what was about to happen. I have four brothers and a sister, and we grew up basically as best friends, making fun out of the chaos and always creating some type of art from it. I've always been able to channel [more painful moments in life] into my art.

Music always stood out to me as the easiest way to capture all the emotions at once in one piece. Music for me is wild and free.

What are some of your biggest influences?
I think all the barbecue and shrimp and grits [in Tennessee] really adds a smokiness to my music.

My queerness gives me a lot of material to create with. It's allowing me to be more playful and not take every little thing so seriously.

Silk Laundry jumpsuit, Wild Vertigga T-shirt, and Nakamol earring.Photo by Jena Cumbo

Tell me about your new music. Why is it different than anything you've ever created?
This EP is going to have a lot of similar vibes to my last album, because I wrote it at the same time with the same producer about a lot of the same struggles and self-discoveries as my past music. I'll share more with you on my third album.

I'm such a fan of your cover of Kate Bush's "Running Up That Hill." Why did you gravitate toward that song to cover?
It's such a powerful song! Kate Bush is magic. It's almost like I've been being guided to cover that song for a long time. I don't know how to explain it in words, as they can feel so limiting, and this song is beyond words to me. It's just a deep inner knowing, and it makes my heart flutter.

Chae NewYork blazer; Saku top, The Great Eros bottoms, and Inch2 boots.Photo by Jena Cumbo

Are there any other songs you feel really connected to?
I would love to collaborate with Active Child. The songs "Hanging On" and "Johnny Belinda" are also otherworldly to me. I've been listening to this band called Walk the Moon a lot. I also love Phoebe Bridgers. I have a crush on her. I generally listen to instrumental music and classical. If you look up 432hz music, it's incredibly healing, and solfeggio frequencies have helped me with a lot.

What does self-love mean to you?
It's been a process for me. It's been quite the journey. Right now, I would say [self-love for me] is about accepting myself, and having love for all the experiences that have led me to where I am. It also means being grateful for growth. It's also been about learning to be in the present moment. It's been learning to trust myself and not listening to what others think I need to be doing. As I learn to do this, I also learn how to love others deeper. All this being said, it's a process.

Chae New York blazer and Saku top.Photo by Jena Cumbo

What advice do you have for someone struggling to find happiness right now?
Spend some time in solitude if you can, or with a really safe person who you feel you can express yourself freely with. Find someone who has no expectations of you and is supportive. In that present moment, ask yourself, What feels good to you? What do you feel like doing? Use your imagination. Daydream. Find what it is you enjoy doing. I promise you can unlock magic inside yourself. It just takes patience.

*This interview has been condensed and edited for clarity.