PACKED HOUSE: It was standing-room only with not an inch to spare at the Kimora Lee Simmons store in Beverly Hills.
Guests crowded into the boutique as a light rain dusted Beverly Hills Thursday evening for a cocktail party put on by W Magazine to celebrate the line’s first retail outpost.
True, the store had already been up and running since the summer, but Kimora Lee Simmons considered it the door’s official grand opening and traffic has so far been steady.
“I think being that we’re in Beverly Hills and being on Beverly Drive you’ve got the luxury traffic, holiday traffic, tourists. It’s been great,” Simmons said. “We’ve gotten a great response.”
Roughly one year ago Simmons launched Kimora Lee Simmons, a ready-to-wear offering of sheath dresses with leather bodices, wool jumpsuits, silk tie blouses and tuxedo jackets. The business model at the time called for a direct strategy with the retail store in Beverly Hills, where Simmons has a home, already being constructed. It’s on the other side of the country from company headquarters in New York’s Flatiron District, calling for Simmons to travel back and forth between the two coasts every other week. New York is also where the entire line is manufactured.
“I wanted something intimate and chic so I thought I’d start in Beverly Hills because it’s all about the new things for me,” she said.
Simmons said she’s been hunting for space for a second store in Southeast Asia, where she has fans of the brand, but it’s been challenging.
“It’s been tough. It’s really small real estate and really long lead times,” she said. “I was looking at Singapore and Malaysia so I would like to do that, but I think little by little. Right now I’m really happy with where I’m at and the pace and the size. It’s easy for me to manage.”
She’s also turned her attention now to wholesale in select doors of Bloomingdale’s and Saks Fifth Avenue.
Managing the business and not scaling too quickly are key.
“I started this myself,” she said. “It’s small and intimate and it’s important for people to know in terms of design, manufacturing, the ads — everything that you do — you’re invested in yourself and I think that says a lot for your product. It says you’re not going anywhere.”
She glanced around the packed store as more guests continued to stream in.
“This is more people than we’ve ever had,” she said. “This is a lot for me and I’m the girl who came from fashion shows in Times Square, so I know the difference. This is intimate for me.”