Kimora Lee Simmons Leissner, the designer, former model and entrepreneur, celebrated International Women’s Day on Friday by revealing that she had personally purchased the once red-hot streetwear brand Baby Phat and will relaunch the label later this year.
She declined to disclose the purchase price or the company from which it was purchased, only saying:
“We had to hunt around to find it.”
Kimora was the creator of the women’s-skewed streetwear brand 20 years ago as an extension of the Phat Farm men’s label under her then-husband Russell Simmons’ Phat Fashions company. She felt at the time that women streetwear fans should have a vehicle and created Baby Phat to fit that bill. She served as its creative director from 2000 to 2010 and later added the president’s title as well, per WWD.
In its heyday in the early Aughts, Baby Phat was one of Phat Fashions’ most profitable brands with a wide variety of product categories and sales in excess of $1 billion. It was worn by major celebrities and hosted elaborate fashion shows. When Phat Fashion was sold to Kellwood in 2004, Kimora continued to serve as creative director of Baby Phat. A fragrance was launched with Coty in 2005 and the line expanded into footwear, lingerie, children’s wear, interiors and other products.
Kimora said when the label is relaunched for spring, it will be a “mainstream sportswear” collection for Millennials targeted to the mid-tier retail level. She plans on tapping into her “amazing personal archive” as inspiration for the collection, which will have “retro” elements that will be modernized, as well as new looks.
So expect a hint of nostalgia — including the brand’s signature Baby Phat rhinestone T — along with:
“new messaging,” she said. “We’re working fast and furiously and have a lot up our sleeves.”
She said her two college-age children were the primary reason she wanted to get the brand back.
“It’s perfect timing for this,” she said. “Over the past several years, we realized the brand resonates with people and lives deep in their souls.” And young people like her 16- and 19-year-olds have a “need for messaging” that is similar to what Baby Phat represented in its prime, and still can today.
Kimora said a collaboration will also be part of the relaunch, but she is keeping the details of that under wraps for now. Since 2013, Kimora has also created the Kimora Lee Simmons women’s collection, which is carried in Bloomingdale’s, Lord & Taylor, Farfetch and other retailers. She said that while she owns both brands, they will be kept separate.
“They’re siblings, but one is older than the other,” she said.
The reveal came as Kimora joined UN Women and the Gender Innovation Coalition for Change to celebrate International Women’s Day and the launch of its new “She Innovates” standards, which are intended to promote gender equality in the workplace.
It’s good to see Baby Phat back in business. We’ll see if they can recreate the buzz that they once had, but congrats are in order.
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