In 1998, Russel Simmons and his then-wife Kimora Lee Simmons decided to expand their Phat Farm brand to include a label for women, naming it Baby Phat. That was 21 years ago, so it’s fitting that 21 years later, Forever 21 is giving the brand a reboot as it dropped hints that Baby Phat will soon be appearing in the store’s iconic yellow bags.
Earlier this week, Forever 21 shared a 19-second teaser on Twitter that opened with a late 90’s hot pink pager with text that read: TXT ME BAK. XOXO KLS. It was shortly followed by a glittery announcement that read STAY TUNED FOR SOME MAJOR BUZZ before shortly disappearing and being replaced by a bejeweled cryptic 2 DAYS UNTIL THE CAT IS BACK message.
?? THE CAT IS BACK TMR EXCLUSIVELY ON F21 ✨?? pic.twitter.com/vy50Cg9Qo7
— Forever 21 (@Forever21) June 12, 2019
Baby Phat’s long history with the hip hop culture began in 1998 when the Simmons created simple women’s t-shirts with the iconic Baby Phat symbol and gifted as party favors to celebrities and models within the Hip-Hop community.
Over the next several years, the brand, which was largely promoted by the Simmons’ extravagant, glamorous, and excessive lifestyle, grew to encompass a wider range of clothing (specifically designed to hug women’s curves in all the right ways), accessories, lingerie, and perfume. By 2002, Phat Fashions LLC, which included both Phat Farm and Baby Phat, had made a combined profit of $265 million. In the following years, it added kids’ clothing and interior design items and expanded internationally. Revenue continued to grow over the next several years until a significant decline around 2008-2009 at about the same time as the national recession. The brand, which was carried in major department stores, also suffered as department stores around the world began to close. In 2010, Kimora Lee Simmons, who had been serving as president of Baby Phat’s parent company, abruptly left the company, which was significantly struggling.
Yet on March 8 of this year (International Women’s Day), Simmons announced that she had bought the brand back from its current owners and planned to re-launch this summer.
Now it seems like Forever 21 is ensuring that Baby Phat will be Lee Simmon’s baby…forever.
— Baby Phat by Kimora Lee Simmons (@BabyPhat) June 13, 2019
— Baby Phat by Kimora Lee Simmons (@BabyPhat) March 9, 2019