Everyone starts somewhere, and Olivia Kim’s first job in retail was in 2003 as Employee #1 at Opening Ceremony. From there, Humberto Leon, Carol Lim and our VP of Creative Projects basically set the standard for what would become the most important riff in modern fashion: introduce Designer A to Designer B, and let their collaboration take the product to a whole new place.
The Rizzoli-published Opening Ceremony
As we kick off Pop-In@Nordstrom X Opening Ceremony, we also kick off a series we’re calling Taking a Page from OC, in which we mine the essentially-out-of-print, highly collectible, Rizzoli-published Opening Ceremony—a 350-page, pastel-striped encyclopedia of retail, style and general amazingness—to bring you the stories of how these friends cross-pollinated a literal world of cool stuff and grew their very own empire.
Since its inception, Opening Ceremony was about traveling to a new place, finding designers and regionally produced goods that hadn’t yet appeared on the American radar, and bringing them back to New York City (and then the world). They worked systematically but also from the heart; they’d focus for a year on a place they loved so they could really envelope the spirit of it, and then they’d let their next inspiration take over.
Humberto and Carol eventually began teaming up with designers and collaborating on seasonal collections—you know, the ______ x ______ formula that is now part and parcel of fashion, style and design—but the early globe-spanning methodology was its own sort of collaboration, too. By bringing unknown lines and designers into the fold, Opening Ceremony collaborated with entire countries.
From the Rizzoli-published Opening Ceremony
Included in the tome is a conversation between OK, Humberto and Carol that centers on their inaugural outing to Brazil in 2003. Our favorite passages are below.
“In the beginning, it was just the three of us hanging out as friends and working. We just kept bouncing ideas off of each other. The most amazing thing about Humberto is that he often says, “What do you mean ‘what if’? Let’s just do it!” —Olivia
“Brazil was the first country where we started fine-tuning our radar, so that we could pick up on what was going on there.” —Humberto
“Nobody had done anything with Brazilian fashion before that. All people thought about with Brazil were cows and parades and Rio. They didn’t realize that there were these really talented people doing cool things. The creativity down there was incredible. I think it’s part of the Brazilian culture—this very warm, loving, textured community.” —Olivia
“And of course we brought Havaianas to America for the first time. We just saw everyone wearing these brightly colored flip-flops and thought they were amazing. Nobody here had heard of them.” —Carol
“It wasn’t about going there to find out what was cool. It was more of, ‘I love this, and somebody in New York is going to love this too.'” —Olivia
“In 2003 we also started having these awesome concerts in the store. Mark Gardener from Ride, and then Lisa Lisa and the Cult Jam performed at one of our parties. I often wonder what it is that unites all these people, whether it’s Andrew Kuo or Ratatat or Wong Kar-wai or Chloé or Rodarte.” —Humberto
“I think the most unifying trait or spirit is this idea that you can be a part of something that you know has no limits; you know that you have the support and room for creativity. There’s something very magnetic about that.” —Olivia