Hip Hop Brand Fubu Seeking to Expand Licensing in U.S
Hip hop brand Fubu, which hit its peak in the late 1990s, is attempting a U.S. comeback with a sharp focus on licensing.
The label, founded as a headwear brand in the early 1990s by Daymond John (now a star of Shark Tank) and three friends, largely left the U.S. market in 2003 save for licensed footwear, and shifted focus other countries. But the recent rekindling of consumer interest in 1990s-era retro apparel prompted Fubu to decide to mount a return to the U.S. market via licensing.
Fubu, which generated about $500 million in revenue in 1998 ($350 wholesale, $150 million licensing) once focused largely on apparel, but now seeks to expand into homegoods including housewares and bedding. It also recently signed three agreements for men’s suits (Karako)and men’s and women’s eyewear (Eye Candy Creations) and watches (The Lab Co.), the first of which (eyewear) will ship late summer. Forever 21 also will carry a collection of women’s junior apparel this fall via its supplier Style Club. It also is weighing licensing for hotels and young men’s apparel, says Carlton Brown, a Fubu co-founder and head of business development and licensing. The Brand Liaison also is handling licensing.
While the company continues to design its own sportswear (t-shirts, hoodies, track jackets), it also is pursuing licensing to expand its business without building its own inventory.
“Our goal is not to be distributed as much as before and while we have to turn a profit, we don’t want to be oversaturated,” says Brown. “We want to maintain some kind of exclusivity. We were oversaturated before and we really had to re-evaluate how we wanted to come out this time. That means doing short runs and keeping low inventory or no inventory at all.”
Fubu also is redesigning its logo, with a smaller, more “toned-down look” that includes “subtle” placement on apparel.
“Some consumers want the original designs and retro look and on one hand we have to feed that,” says Brown. “Yet as we give them that, we also will introduce new things.”
To promote the new products, Fubu will have in-store promotions and also will work with community organizations because “people want to companies do the right thing, and it is good for business overall.” Fubu also will seek additional limited-edition collaborations like the one it had last year with Puma for footwear, says Brown.
Fubu, Carlton Brown, Co-Founder and Head of Business Development Licensing, email@example.com
The Brand Liaison, Steven Heller, 855-843-5424 firstname.lastname@example.org