FUBU began as the brain child of Daymond John in 1989 when he decided to try his hand a few cut and sew hats. With about $40 is materials he made a handful of tye top hats, hugely popular at the time, and sold them out on a street corner in Queens NY for a profit of $800 in one day. It was then that he know he was on to something.
For a few years Daymond messed around with the brand. He would hit up Hip Hop music video shoots and try to get rappers to wear his product. He was no stranger to rejection but would continue to be persistent. One day he finally convinced LL Cool J to pose for a photo wearing a FUBU T-shirt.
Daymond would later take this photo with him to the Magic trade show in Vegas and was able to secure over $400000 in initial orders for the brand. This was well beyond what he could afford to produce himself. With the help of his mother, and the $100000 they got from mortgaging their home, they were able to get the brand off the ground.
In 1999 LL Cool J made his most significant contribution to the brand. He was commissioned to rap in a Gap commercial where he was instructed to write his own lyrics. The commercial was for a massive campaign push for their Easy Fit Jeans.
LL wrote "For Us, By Us" (The FUBU mantra) into the lyrics for the commercial and was also featured wearing a FUBU hat. This commercial was seen by millions at the time and skyrocketed FUBU's popularity. FUBU and Daymond were able to reap the benefits and rewards of over $3000000 of marketing for $0 investment. Gap had no idea at the time what they were doing and were only concerned with broadening their own audience. FUBU would go on to reach over $350 Million in annual sales at its peak and was the beginning of a new era of urban hip hop fashion.