By  on August 24, 2007

NEW YORK — Russell Simmons has called it a day at Phat Fashions, the company he founded 15 years ago.

Simmons has stepped down as chief executive officer of the firm, which has been owned by Kellwood Co. since 2004.

He said in a statement that he has left Phat Fashions to develop his other business ventures in the jewelry, fragrance, personal health and entertainment industries. However, Simmons isn't completely exiting the apparel business. He will maintain full control of the new Russell Simmons Argyle Culture men's wear brand, which is launching at retail in the fall. In addition, Simmons will continue to lead his Atman brand, a high-end men's wear line and also the title of one of his fragrances. Those two brands are considered part of the Phat Fashions empire, but will become part of Simmons' own trademark properties. Simmons, who runs Rush Communications, a multifaceted entertainment and apparel company, plans to keep his current office at 512 Seventh Avenue.

Simmons could not be reached for comment on Thursday. In a statement, he said: "There are so many things I want to achieve, and this is the appropriate moment for me to move on to my next business venture."

A spokeswoman for Kellwood said Simmons will not be replaced by a new ceo. Bernt Ullmann, president of Phat Fashions, will continue to lead all brands.

In a related move, Kellwood has extended its partnership with Longstreet Industries, an apparel manufacturing firm based here, to design and market the Phat Farm and new XV men's brands. The company already produces the Baby Phat and Phat Farm swimwear and Phat Farm big and tall sportswear lines under license agreements.

Simmons sold his Phat Fashions empire to Kellwood in a cash deal for $140 million in January 2004. As part of the agreement, Simmons stayed on as ceo and his now estranged wife, Kimora Lee Simmons, remained as creative director of the Baby Phat brand. She will continue as Baby Phat's creative head.

Phat Fashions produces men's, women's and children's sportswear, accessories, footwear, home and loungewear. Its portfolio of brands includes Baby Phat, Baby Phat Girlz, Phat Farm, Phat Farm Boys and XV. Phat Fashions has 30 domestic and eight international licenses covering 38 product categories. There are 13 freestanding Phat flagships globally operated under license.

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