A platinum single, fashion design and socially conscious marketing might seem an unlikely combination. But Darold D. Brown Ferguson, Jr., better known as ASAP Ferg, has managed to make the combination a reality. Growing up in Harlem, he showed artistic talent and helped design the t-shirts and record logos that were sold in his father’s boutique. After his father died while he was still in art school, ASAP Ferg decided to start his own business. He founded Devoni Clothing in 2005, producing high-end accessories that attracted the attention of celebrities such as Chris Brown and Diggy Simmons.
By 2010, however, ASAP Ferg realized that his true talent and passion was in music. He teamed up with a friend from high school, the rapper ASAP Rocky, and became part of the hip-hop group ASAP Mob. Still drawing on his art and fashion background, he designed costumes for the group. After a time of collaboration, however, both men agreed they would do better as solo artists and over the next several years ASAP Ferg became a successful rapper, eventually producing a Platinum single.
ASAP Ferg clearly never left his interest in art and design behind. In 2017 he teamed up with Chid Liberty’s organization, Liberty & Justice. Founded in 2010 as a socially conscious clothing business, Liberty & Justice sells clothing that is produced in several African countries, including Liberia and Ghana, and is certified as “Fair Trade.” Workers at the Liberian Women’s Sewing Project, for example, own 49% of the company’s shares, and the profits are pledged to Liberty & Justice’s Community Development Fund. In 2015, the company launched the UNIFORM label, which operates on a “one-for-one” model, in which the company provides a school uniform to a child in Liberia for every purchase of clothing.
Interviewed by Vogue.com in April of 2017, ASAP Ferg explained why he was interested in partnering with Liberty & Justice and providing uniforms for children in Africa. Remembering how his mother dressed him for school, he said: “I went to public school for junior high, and she’d make me wear a uniform, even though you weren’t required to wear one.”
School uniforms are required in African schools, and children whose parents cannot afford them are at a distinct disadvantage. According to a 2004 MIT study, providing free school uniforms to African children reduced school absenteeism by 43% and raised test scores by one quarter of a standard deviation. Another MIT study from 2010 found that free school uniforms lowered the incidence of teen marriage by 20% and teen pregnancy by 17%. (Forbes.com, “An Entrepreneur Lifts Liberian Women and Children Out Of Poverty” by Lisa Cox, May 28, 2018)
Uniform+1 operates as a “fashion styling service,” in which customers are provided with a hand-selected package every month, with clothing from Ferg’s Traplord collection, as well as other luxurious and “authentically street” brands. The collection includes a logo tee, camp jacket, a hoodie and bucket hat. All the clothing is manufactured in a wide range of sizes, is available for both men and women, and comes with a 100% money-back guarantee.
In 2017, ASAP Ferg had the opportunity to visit Liberia and meet some of the children who had received uniforms and were now able to attend school. In the Vogue article, he recalls “You see a lot of them in the streets because they can’t afford a uniform and therefore can’t go to school. … providing them with free uniforms not only enables these kids to get an education, but I think it makes them happy and empowered—I’m a strong believer in dressing the way you want to be.”
“The aesthetic of Traplord was built on the fact that I didn’t have anything,” Ferg noted. “I want these kids to know that they are lords and that they can become the highest of the high.”