“When I created Baby Phat 20 years ago, it was because women – especially women of color – had no voice at all in the streetwear category,” Simmons tells Refinery29. “It’s in our DNA that this brand is created for women, by women – which was rare then and still is today once you really look closely at who truly owns and controls many womenswear brands on the market.”
It felt like an organic time to share her big secret during her keynote at the United Nations Women Global Innovator for Change. “It’s a personal allegory for ‘look how far we’ve come’ and a reminder to women everywhere to expose young girls to entrepreneurial endeavors and bring them along with you.”
Simmons' daughters, Ming Lee, 19, and Aoki Lee, 16, were also a catalyst for the brand's return. “I think it’s a huge opportunity to teach by example: to always keep growing and pushing yourself to evolve,” Simmons says. “Baby Phat is our family business in a lot of ways, and I’m excited for them to participate in a hands-on way to rebuild it alongside me.”
The designer is planning an exciting collaboration due out this summer, and it's inspired by some of Baby Phat's most memorable items. “We plan to get back into accessories and add new categories – some of which weren’t around when we started,” Simmons confirms.
“Our strategy is tied to embracing all the exciting things that have happened in the market so that Ming Lee and Aoki Lee can tell their story to a new generation young women, some of whom may not have even been born during our first go around.”
We're hoping this resurgence includes a spot during New York Fashion Week come September. Simmons says that her shows' front rows — the celebs and musicians who supported the brand — were among of her favorite memories for the business. “The really innovative women who pushed the world forward to embrace the urban lifestyle when many in the business and in society at large, did not have that vision or foresight. This was a movement. People forget that.”