Longtime friends Carol Lim and Humberto Leon launched Opening Ceremony in 2002 with a single New York store and a plan to showcase a rotating selection of designers, spotlighting one country every year. (Currently, Cacharel, Repetto, and Jean Paul Gaultier represent France.) Today, the company has storefronts in Los Angeles and Tokyo, a New York showroom that reps more than 20 designers, and an acclaimed in-house collection, featuring high-profile design collaborations with Chloé Sevigny and Spike Jonze. Opening Ceremony Worldwide takes e-commerce to the next level—shop by country, design your own bag—and includes a must-read staff blog. Its entries about books, art, and fashion attract 4 million monthly visitors. "A friend of mine lives in a small town in Ireland and a random girl asked if she was wearing an OC sweater," says Lim. "Because of Worldwide, she knew us." Despite that growing global community, Opening Ceremony shoppers still feel like the brand is their little secret, which may be the company's biggest accomplishment. Says Lim: "It makes people feel as if they've discovered something."
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For building a global brand that still feels