Stop us if you've heard this one before: Two college kids take a vacation together, get to talking, and decide to indulge their "passions for travel, art and fashion" by opening up their own business. Now for the twist: In the case of Carol Lim and Humberto Leon, it really worked. The UC Berkeley friends started fashion label Opening Ceremony in 2002 and, lo these twelve years later, they're not only still in business, they're helping to set the course of 21st century fashion.
Gradually, that is. OC still has only a handful of stores. Still, the vision is big. Not only were Lim and Leon named creative directors of LVMH-owned Kenzo in 2011, OC has also collaborated with old-guard fashion heavies like Levi's and Pendleton even as it's reinvigorated older brands like Stetson and Adidas. Thanks to a recent capital infusion from Berkshire Partners, OC hopes to have a store in every major city.
Opening Ceremony features designers from a different country each year. A peek at its threads makes it clear that the founders are comfortable taking risks, which also might explain the brand's latest move: a partnership with Intel to marry fashion and technology.
Wait—you've heard that one before, too, right? Despite the lukewarm reception and clunky look common to smart watch, OC has decided to have a go at the wearable-technology thing anyway. The company's MICA (My Intelligent Communication Accessory) bracelet runs $495, and it's gotten New York Magazine pondering whether the perma-cool brand can make wearables cool, too.
While the brand is active on many social platforms it has more than half a million followers on Instagram for a reason; the brand's posts are pretty and polished while also serving as fashion inspiration.
The brand hasn't done too many traditional spots. Though, there were a few cute ones for its collaborations with Levi's. Featured above is a new short film—a route many fashion and magazine brands have gone—featuring Rashida Jones as an on-the-go boss who uses the MICA to help her with her myriad tasks.
- The duo named the store Opening Ceremony because they wanted something that wouldn't be made fun of. That, and they liked the Olympics.
- Berkshire Partners, a Boston-based private equity firm, recently invested in the brand and plans to grow its retail presence which could mean stores in every major city.
- Lim and Leon opened their first store on Howard Street in SoHo in 2002 with just $10,000.
- The company has done exclusive collections with brands like Pendleton and Levi's as well as celebrities like Chloë Sevigny, Spike Jonze (for the movie Her) and Terence Koh.