On a lower level of the Southpole headquarters building in Fort Lee, N.J., is the retail team for the Against All Odds chain of urban streetwear stores.
The company is a separate corporate entity from Southpole, but is owned by the Khym family. David Khym is chairman of both companies and Kenny Khym is president, overseeing the day-to-day operations of both Southpole and Against All Odds.
The company operates 24 stores currently, including eight units in New Jersey, nine in New York, three in Pennsylvania, and one store each in Connecticut, Massachusetts, Maryland and Virginia.
Apart from selling Southpole merchandise, Against All Odds offers brands like Rocawear, Ecko, Zoo York, Levi's, Ed Hardy, Jordan, The North Face, LRG, New Era, G-shock and D.C.
Kenny Khym started Against All Odds in 1995 as a mall retailer catering to the burgeoning urban streetwear category. It was an early player in the game — Rocawear was founded that same year and Sean John wouldn't launch until 1998 — and by 2000 the chain had revenues of $15.5 million in about half a dozen stores.
"It worked as a great antenna for our wholesale operations," said Kenny Khym of using the chain as a laboratory and testing ground for its own Southpole brand.
The company added stores throughout the Aughts, growing to almost 80 stores in 15 states on both the East and West Coasts and in Florida. Sales reached $78.7 million by 2005 and grew to $121.1 million by 2007.
"I thought we'd end up having 1,000 stores," said Khym.
However, the company's growth trajectory was abruptly reversed by the financial crisis of 2008 and the resulting retail implosion. The timing of the economic downturn couldn't have been worse for Against All Odds, as it had just opened a string of stores on the West Coast, where the subprime mortgage mess was especially acute.
"The expansion to the West Coast was a disaster," said John Um, executive vice president at Wicked Fashions Inc., Southpole's parent.
On Jan. 5, 2009, Against All Odds filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. At the time, it had shrunk to 64 stores — but the Khyms worked with creditors and the court for a year to devise a plan to keep the chain open, rather than liquidating. The company emerged from Chapter 11 on Dec. 27, 2009, paying off unsecured creditors a 14 percent return.
"Kenny really wanted to be able to keep employees who had worked for many years with the company," said Um. "Even though we shut down most of the stores, we retained the majority of employees. That really impressed the bankruptcy judge and also the credit committee, after they heard about our people retention strategy."
Khym said the company is carefully considering expansion opportunities again, as there are good real estate deals available in some markets because of the still-fragile economy.
As for the business itself, which trimmed another 40 stores in the past two years, he summed up: "It's not setting the world on fire, but it's doing nicely now."
@tradesy is turning the concept of a showroom upside down with its new space in Santa Monica. Here, the company plans to hold events, art exhibits and a showcase rare fashion pieces like this Louis Vuitton boxing set. Get all the details on Tradesy’s first showroom on WWD.com. #wwdnews
Spotted last night at the @erdem x @hm launch event: Kate Bosworth, Rashida Jones, Kirsten Dunst and Selma Blair. The party, which took place in LA, also marked the opening of their pop-up shop. “I was interested in creating a collection that wasn’t in any way disposable. It was about pieces you’d create and keep forever, things that have a permanence to it,” designer Erdem Moralioglu said. #wwdeye (📷: Katie Jones)
Renee Zellweger in yellow in 2001 and again in 2017. Chosen as one of the 12 @pantone Leading Spring Colors (and dubbed “Meadowlark”), it only makes sense that the bright hue stands the test of time and is making a resurgence this season, seen already on stars like @blakelively and @gigihadid. (📷: Donato Sardello & @rexfeatures) #wwdfashion #tbt
Dior’s 70th anniversary celebration continues with a new exhibition at the Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto. “Christian Dior,” which is scheduled to run through March 18, takes a look at the founders tenure from 1947 to 1057 and feature 40 designs. Pictured here is an evening gown from the Ailée, fall 1948-49 haute couture collection. #wwdfashion (📷: Brian Boyle)
As one of the most recognizable models in the world, Christy Turlington Burns has an insider’s view of the fashion industry and the allegations of sexual harassment swirling around it. “I can say that harassment and mistreatment have always been widely known and tolerated in the industry. The industry is surrounded by predators who thrive on the constant rejection and loneliness so many of us have experiences at some point in our careers,” Turlington told WWD, along with her suggestions for how the modeling world should protect younger women and men. Read more on WWD.com. Link in bio. (📷: Tony Palmieri) #wwdnews
@asics America has tapped a new brand ambassador: famed DJ/record producer @steveaoki. This initiative is intended to set the tone for the new brand identity and philosophy and will include partnerships with influencers and in-store and off-line activations that will continue into next year. This is Asics’ most significant marketing effort in two decades, and is expected to attract younger consumers to the brand. #wwdfashion
24-year-old Jean Prounis is redefining the rules of jewelry. Formerly a studio assistant to Jemima Kirke and a design apprentice at Ghuran, she focuses on handcrafted subtleties and ancient goldsmithing techniques. “There was a really sterile feel in the environment and I wanted to have jewelry with character that shapes how you wear it everyday,” Prounis said. Each piece is hand made in New York, either by Prounis or three other jewelers in the district. #wwdfashion
“These collections continue to build on that vision, empowering differently abled adults to express themselves through fashion,” said @tommyhilfiger of his line of adaptive apparel, which launches today. The line consists of 37 men’s and 34 women’s styles based upon the pieces from the spring Tommy Hilfiger sportswear collection. #wwdnews