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.
“Azzedine has been one of the biggest influences in my life. He has always been such a strong, loving, fatherly figure to me. I call him Papa. His designs are indescribably unique, they are pieces of art. He knew how to make the female form look its loveliest. I have so many memories of him; my favorite might be during my first show with him in Paris. He liked me and he wanted to help me get more work. He called all his friends at Kenzo and Comme des Garcons, and asked them to book me. They said, ‘But she can’t walk!’ And he said, ‘but she has such a great ass!' His friendship and support has been the great privilege of my career. I can't imagine life without him. Repose en paix mon Papa.” - @stephanieseymour tells @wwd. #wwdfashion (📷: @steveeichner) #alaia #azzedinealaia
Azzedine Alaïa, flanked by two of his closest friends, models Stephanie Seymour and Naomi Campbell.
He designed Seymour’s dress for her 1995 wedding to Peter Brant, and treated Campbell (who famously called him Papa), like a daughter. For more on the legendary designer, tap the link in bio. #wwdfashion #alaia #azzedinealaia
Azzedine Alaïa's “I-did-it-my-way” ethos stood out starkly at a time when brands are experimenting with consumer-facing fashion shows, coed formats and trans-seasonal collections – anything to perk up lackluster sales of ready-to-wear in an age of Insta-everything. “It’s not creation anymore. This becomes a purely industrial approach,” the late designer told WWD in an interview last year. “But anyway, the rhythm of collections is so stupid. It’s unsustainable. There are too many collections.” Read more about the iconic designer’s life and work on wwd.com, link in bio. #wwdfashion #azzedinealaia (📷: @WWD Archive, 1986) #alaia
Sneaker reselling app @goat’s latest exhibit, "The Greatest: New York," tells the story of New York's sneaker culture. To celebrate the exhibit, an intimate crowd gathered on Thursday night at the pop-up gallery space, located at Platform in Culver City, to hear guest speaker and illustrator @esymai talk about her own rise in streetwear and women in the business. "For me I'm just someone who is creative. I like to create things," said Chang. #wwdfashion
Azzedine Alaïa, one of the most iconic couturiers of the modern era whose body-con designs defined Eighties fashion, has died in Paris. The diminutive Tunisian-born designer, known for his structured knitted dresses with fitted waists and impeccably cut, figure-hugging second skin silhouettes was deeply admired by his peers, and counted supermodel Naomi Campbell - his adoptive daughter - among his inner circle, one of a gang of glamazons including Farida Khelfa, Carla Bruni and Stephanie Seymour who became ambassadors of his style. (📷: Alexandre Guirkinger) #wwdblast