Russell Simmons first made his name in the 1980s as a co-founder of the hip-hop record label Def Jam, home to old-school rap pioneers like Run-DMC and L.L. Cool J. Then in 1992 Russell decided to expand from music into fashion, opening a storefront in Manhattan's trendy SoHo district. "I watched the Tommy Hilfigers and others who were growing their businesses at the time [being] inspired by the street," Russell says. "I thought, 'We could be on this.' And also, 'Who knows the street better than us?' So we created Phat Farm." Now, Phat Farm makes everything from suits to sneakers.
There's one question that remains: What does the name mean? "Not 'heavyweight' fat. [It's] like 'fly' or 'fine' or 'attractive'...'cool,'" Russell explains. "'P-H-A-T'—cool. 'Farm'—a place where you make cool things."
In 2005, Russell sold a portion of Phat Farm for over $100 million!