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You know Theophilus London—kind of. He's the stylish dude with the wide brim hat who you see front row at Chanel fashion shows and who you hear blips of as a guest in mega rap hits (recently, Kanye West's "All Day"). You know he makes music of his own, too, though you can't name any tracks, but you see him in pictures and he always looks cool. He's a Known Stylish Person who Knows What's Up. And he's currently obsessed with B.U.M. Equipment, the "street activewear" brand founded in 1986 that flourished at price-conscious department stores throughout the ‘90s. Sadly, the love does not seem to be mutual.
On Facebook, B.U.M enjoys just shy of a thousand likes, with its last timeline update posted in April 2012:
THIS IS THE OFFICIAL B.U.M. Equipment is a Clothing Company that has been around since the 80's and it is coming back! PLEASE LIKE US and help GROW the business!
Its website and social media channels are similarly lackluster, though the brand did recently tweet that a comeback was "in the works!"
London seems invested in that comeback. I saw him play last week, and was taken with his new look: very different from the visual stake he claimed in 2011, one that leaned on slim suits with round sunglasses and layered chain necklaces. His once-signature wide brim hat had been swapped for a baby pink NYC tourism cap—weird, but we're still in this normcore-y moment, so, sure—and he wore a popover
There is nothing sexy, current, or culturally valuable about B.U.M. in 2015. Its sheer lack of presence is statement.
windbreaker with a blocky logo I recognized from childhood, B.U.M. Maybe it was the weeknight rosé, or because he launched into Rihanna's "Jump" (which samples Ginuwine's "Pony," a bodacious track that makes 98% of women lose their mind), but I was captivated by the sight of the goofy acronym embroidered on ripstop nylon. There is nothing sexy, current, or culturally valuable about B.U.M. in 2015. Its sheer lack of presence is statement.
A little Instagram stalking later, I’ve found photos dating as far back as October 2014 of Mr. London sporting B.U.M. merch, all of which appears to be vintage. He’s amassed a collection of sweatshirts, T-shirts, and outerwear, flaunted in more than a dozen Instagram posts over the last eight months. He announced his tour with a photo of the company’s logo, and even wore a piece to perform at the Billboard Music Awards (as support for Ye and "All Day"). The next day, he posted a photo of the sweatshirt he donned with the caption "B.U.M. it’s time to holla at the kid!"
Later that week, Rihanna was spotted in a B.U.M. logo long-sleeve leaving a recording session with Drake. Theophilus ‘grammed a trio of the paparazzi shots ("if u know u kno. love u @badgirlriri #BUM). The brand noticed, too, with photos posted to the company’s shell of a website under "Celebrity Sightings," where it is the solo example. This means that someone in the B.U.M. camp is plugged in enough to know that Rihanna wore the brand—and added photo evidence of this to the relatively inactive site—but Theophilus’s social media love affair has been completely spurned.
A Google search for "bum equipment theophilus london" leads mostly to eBay listings and vintage "picker" Instagram accounts where informal transactions take place. In the comments of Theophilus’s B.U.M. posts, fans promote their own vintage B.U.M. items, arranging sales through direct messaging. London is singlehandedly reheating the stagnant brand, and seems to be asking for a chance to revive it. Whether B.U.M. accepts the rapper as its savior or not, it’s clear that the dormant brand is ready for another moment in the sun. With the appetite for ‘90s nostalgia high and athleisurewear hanging on, this would be B.U.M.’s moment. At the very least, it could throw Theo a bone and add him to the Celebrity Sightings page.
A timeline of Theophilus London's unrequited love letter to B.U.M., via Instagram: