"FUBU was clever enough to put a hat on LL in a Gap commercial," Esco Clothing founder Willie Esco Montanez says. "Changed everything."
The rapper reportedly felt like the Gap didn't respect streetwear culture, so he turned an ad that the Gap paid $30 million for into a commercial for FUBU. The commercial featured the rapper freestlying with a Fubu hat prominently perched on his head and he even managed to slip in a reference to the brand by spitting, "For Us, By Us," the phrase FUBU stands for.
The appearance in the ad brought huge notoriety to the brand with very humble beginnings. FUBU designer Daymond John recalls receiving orders while holed up in a hotel room near a tradeshow in Las Vegas called Magic. Despite $300,000 worth of orders, almost 30 banks refused to finance FUBU, which led John to sell all the furniture from his house, while burning the rest, to create a makeshift factory where staff could sew the products and fulfill the orders. "We slept in sleeping bags next to those machines and for a year we would just crank FUBU out of the house," John says. Next thing John knew, FUBU was worth $350 million—and went on to inspire Sean Jean, Roc-a-Wear, et al.