Does Anyone Give A Sh*t About Brands Anymore?
If my life was to flash before me like an information superhighway, I imagine it’d go something like this: glowing neon signs would pop up every half-mile or so, screaming words that have resonated with me since I was a youngster. Nike. Reebok. VIBE. Air Jordan. McDonalds. Kodak. The brands that matter to me are brands that mattered to me in my earlier years—but what about today? Do kids still care about Nike? Does the strength of a brand still influence young people’s purchasing decisions? Do the brands we endorse and support still give testament to who we are and what we value, as they used to?
Take VIBE magazine’s current “Greatest Hip-Hop Producer Of All Time” online bracket. It’s elicited relative buzz, with artists like Erykah Badu making mention of it, but it pales heavily in comparison to when the VIBE brand carried serious weight—so serious, in fact, its early 90′s interviews with Tupac Shakur, Suge Knight, Puffy and Notorious B.I.G were said to have ignited the East Coast/West Coast rivalry that some say ultimately ended in the death of the two rappers. Somewhere along the way, the brand lost its potency and its very real (and almost scary) ability to influence and shape opinions.
When FUBU debuted in 1992, urban clothing brands were starting out, making instant impact on the fashion market (Phat Farm was created the same year). FUBU allegedly originally stood for “Five Urban Brothers United” and morphed into “For Us By Us,” catering to its predominate African-American customer base. Almost 20 years later, the original team behind the brand (led by Daymond John) is taking a huge gamble by launching the revamped FB Legacy (available online soon exclusively on DrJays.com). Today’s fashion market is markedly different; nowadays “urban” is sometimes seen as a dirty word and logos are more refined and less visible across shirts and jeans.
“Back in the day there were fashion leaders like FUBU, and kids wore it ’cause it stood for something,” says Curt “C-Boogie” McClintock, formerly of FUBU and currently VP of Sales for Konvict Clothing. “Today brands don’t mean sh*t unless someone hot wears them—like Akon with Konvict. Back in the day there were fashion leaders; today there seems to just be fashion followers. As for me, I’m rockin’ whatever’s clever…a little more champagne for my own damn campaign.”