The Cool Kids Behind Opening Ceremony

by MR Magazine Staff

As the business grew, Leon and Lim began working with trained designers to develop the Opening Ceremony aesthetic. Simultaneously, they pursued collaborations with throwback giants like Pendleton, Levi’s, Dr. Martens, Vans, Bass, Timberland, Coach, Esprit, and X-girl—“every little mall-rat brand that we grew up with,” as Cynthia Leung put it. They did a capsule collection with the Muppets (hipster Kermit on a green sweater) and an Intel smart watch. Yoko Ono designed men’s pants for them—one with a handprint on the crotch and others with a sheer panel over the wearer’s behind. The pair’s careful edits of other trendy collections made the shop feel as diverse as a department store like Barneys Co-Op (which carried the Opening Ceremony brand), with a similar price point. But while department stores over-invested in real estate, then scrambled to cope with the rise of online discount hunting, Leon and Lim were cautious about brick-and-mortar growth, expanding via e-commerce—something that similar boutiques, such as Fred Segal, in L.A., or Ikram, in Chicago, didn’t quite pull off. (It has helped that, for the past three years, Opening Ceremony has been backed by the private-equity firm Berkshire Partners, which has a minority stake in the company and a non-executive chairman on its board.) In 2006, Leon and Lim launched a blog spotlighting their friends—cooking with David Chang or touring Chloë Sevigny’s closets—which further cemented the idea that their people were the people to know. Handily, many of those same people produced and appeared in their ads—a sort of proto-native-advertising approach that didn’t feel sleazy. Read more at The New Yorker.