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It has been 15 years since cult store Opening Ceremony opened its doors in 2002. And to hear founders Carol Lim and Humberto Leon tell it, they never expected it. Yes, really. “When we first drafted a business plan, we hoped to be in business at the end of the first year,” laughs Lim. “It hasn’t been a linear path, which is the way we’ve always operated and I think probably one of the reasons why we are still around is because we’ve really led the company in a way that, as we change and as our interests grow, we’ve been able to create a language that is really unique to us.” That unique language has allowed OC to grow in once unthinkable ways, they practically invented the designer collaboration, and are thriving in a retail environment that has similar darling stores, i.e. Colette, closing. Ahead, Lim and Leon talk about their recent Re-Editions collection, the art of the collaboration, and the people who make up their world.
What's Old Is New Again
Though 15 years of fashion is an unruly amount of fashion for anyone to have to sift through, Lim and Leon had the foresight to save one of every piece that they designed from 2002. “There were things that we were like ‘Oh my god, I wish we had that,’ so as a way to celebrate we thought we’d look back and see what are the things we feel are appropriate and modern for right now,” says Lim. The simple sweatshirt, an Opening Ceremony hallmark, made repeat appearances, for instance. “It’s so funny because at this point we’re probably synonymous with the sweatshirt, but when we started the company in 2002, it was totally not considered luxury,” remembers Leon, who has also taken the humble piece to Kenzo. Other pieces in the collection are adorable floral slit pants, Deyrolle taxidermy printed dresses, and a flare coat Rashida Jones specially cited as the “most memorable thing” she ever bought from the duo.
Opening Ceremony is known as much for their own designs as their covetable and sometimes wacky collaborations, but Leon says smartly that doing one for the sake of doing it is not going to work. “It needs to make sense,” he says. “I think that you can’t just do a collaboration because it came to your assistant.” Cohesive storytelling is what has made their partnerships come to life, whether it be their Rene Magritte offering of painterly prints or the brand’s luxed up Vans finished in satin. For Fall 2017, their ultra-cool Pendleton collab is coming back to life yet again. “I think when we did it with Pendleton, they were like ‘Who are you?’ and now it’s exciting to celebrate things that we’ve done that feel like we opened the gateway to different things for other companies.” Their 6th sense of knowing what will work for the store extends to their friendships with longtime collaborators like Spike Jonze to Chloe Sevigny, as well. “We’ve nurtured an incredible community,” says Leon. “A lot of projects friends have initiated where they’re making a movie, or a ballet. We are always trying to find ways to work together.”
New, New, New
Although that it may be hard to believe that Leon and Lim have even more ideas left in them, they do. “We have too many ideas still,” says Lim. They’re excited to open more stores, and plan on working in more unexpected categories soon. “Food is something we’ve always loved and we potentially would love to dabble in,” Lim starts to list off. “We want to work on a hotel, work with an airline, the great thing is that we’ve developed this language where we can actually go into other categories and industries and it feels natural. We feel that we and Opening Ceremony can extend that community, that inclusiveness and continue to make a new and memorable experience.”