A lot has been said about Carol Lim and Humberto Leon, the brains — or we should say friends — behind the multifaceted company Opening Ceremony. As the store celebrates its 10th anniversary this year, the duo have much to be celebrated for — from a highly-successful global retail enterprise (and brand, to boot) to the reinvigoration of Kenzo, which is now under their stewardship. Opening Ceremony is a retailer, showroom, and a private label, and that’s not even the half of it. OC is an established platform for international and emerging designers to showcase and sell their work.
In a Q&A with the Opening Ceremony duo yesterday at the Ace Hotel, director Spike Jonze quizzed the Lim and Leon on how the company came to be.
The idea stemmed from a trip to Hong Kong the old friends who attended the University of California, Berkeley, took together. Upon seeing numerous emerging designers in the Hong Kong scene, the pair decided that they wanted to bring these lines back to the U.S. Although the two faced skepticism from their parents in the beginning, they managed to get their business running after each saving up $10,000 and relying heavily on the help of friends and family.
Lim and Leon account their success to working together as a team — above all as friends. Their recipe for success is to “approach as a team, but see things from different angles,” Lim said. They also attribute their achievements to the unique perspective they maintain on the market. While creating their website, a blog was the first thing they aimed to set up. For OC, buying clothes is really about engaging the customer and discovering the story behind the piece that’s being purchased. Leon says, “The blog was the first voice.” The blog allows customers to interact with each other and with the designers, conveying the experience of actually visiting the store.
Furthermore, when buying merchandise for Opening Ceremony, Lim and Leon focus on eliminating exclusivity. They want the store to have something for everyone, which means carrying various price points and different aesthetics. OC believes fast fashion is becoming too monotonous and blended, and that companies need to revisit having a unique perspective. They do not buy based on trends because those trends are readily available everywhere else, an action that further establishes their unique voice they say.
With OC stores open in New York, Los Angeles, London, and Tokyo the team is looking forward to what the next ten years will bring. “We want to have fun every day,” Lim says. With their unique take on the market and their down to earth approach, we’re betting Opening Ceremony will continue to be an innovative fixture on the fashion scene for some time to come.