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The fashion way

fashionbusiness 600From designer fragrances, clothes, shoes and bags, men and women go in debt to stay current in fashion. While the trends may come and go, fashion as a whole is the staple of life for many. Even the knock offs have a place in society. Just as in any business, it takes determination, resources, creativity and talent to make it in fashion.

On a national level, entrepreneurs such as Russell Simmons of Phat Farm, P Diddy of Sean Jean, Damond John of FUBU, Rachel Roy of Rachel Roy Collection, and Tracy Reese of Tracy Reese have inspired an entire generation of designers and consumers alike.

Phat Farm: Russell Simmons

Russell is known as the pioneer of many things. As the co-founder of the world renowned Def Jam Recordings to the creator of "Def Comedy Jam" to the former owner and creator of Phat Farm, he is the consummate entrepreneur. As a preppy brand that catered to men's fashion, Phat Farm birthed its female offspring "Baby Phat," which today includes women's clothing, eyeglasses, fragrances, and a children's line. With an estimated net worth of $350 million, Simmons has been grinding in the fashion industry since 1992. Phat Farm was sold to Kellwood for approximately $140 million.

Sean John: Sean Combs

While Phat Farm was sold to Kellwood and FUBU enjoyed the infusion of capital from Samsung, Sean John is still privately held. Known as an upscale brand catering to young men, Sean Combs, P Diddy or Puffy (whatever you want to call him today) is a savvy business man that has learned from the best. He brought Sean John to the market in 1998 and has built a power house that is still growing.

Priding himself on creating a lifestyle brand, Sean brands everything from clothing to fragrances to music and now liquor known as Ciroq. With revenues exceeding $525 million annually, Combs is a major player that is taken seriously in the fashion industry. By entering into an exclusive distribution deal with Macy's, Sean John has entered into new product categories such as children's clothing, tailored suits, ties, hosiery, eyewear, and footwear.

FUBU: Daymond John

Over the last 20 years, Daymond has evolved into one of the most successful fashion icons. He is a noted fashion designer, branding expert, author and motivational speaker. Many know Damond as the investor on the television show "Sharks." However, his investment in himself is what garnered his wealth and respect as an investor or advisor.

According to his website, in 1992 he started FUBU by making hats with three associates. With the confidence that they would succeed, John mortgaged his own property for $100,000. The company diversified with a collection of shirts, jerseys, shoes, caps and jeans. In 1995 Samsung invested in the company. By 1998 FUBU grossed over $350 million in annual worldwide sales. This would prove to be the peak of FUBU sales. The end result was not bad for a $100,000 investment.

Rachel Roy: Rachel Roy

As a female climbing the ladder, Rachel Roy is making her mark in the fashion industry by consistently keeping an eye on detail. She has worked at retail, been a stylist for magazines and videos, and served as an intern at Rocawear. In 2005, she launched her namesake line Rachel Roy. In 2008, she formed a joint venture with Jones Apparel Group, which allowed her to launch the Rachel Roy Collection of shoes, clothes, and accessories.

Available at Saks Fifth Avenue, Bergdorf Goodman, and Neiman Marcus and Nordstrom, Rachel Roy is the go to lady for upscale fashion. Any brand that Michelle Obama wears becomes an instant hit, and First Lady Obama has worn Rachel Roy.

Tracy Reese: Tracy Reese

Tracy Reese was in the game before the more popular folks came to the market. She has been holding her position in the industry with her own label since 1987. She has been through the struggles just like many other entrepreneurs and has persevered. While remaining in the clothing world, she has expanded into shoes, accessories and even home decor.

With clients that include Beyoncé and Michelle Obama, Tracy is a brand of her own. Reese is carried by Nordstrom, Bloomingdale's Bergdorf Goodman, Neiman Marcus and Anthropologie. She even has a flagship store in New York City and Tokyo.

NOTE: Join us this month as we look at some of Memphis' up and coming designers.

(Contact Carlee McCullough, Esq., at 5308 Cottonwood Road, Suite 1A, Memphis, TN 38118, or email her at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .)

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