WWD Milestones: The Southpole Journey

The route to a $1 billion retail business.

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1899: David and Kenny Khym’s grandfather, Ki-sun Khym, is one of the first Korean immigrants to the U.S., moving here with the help of Christian missionaries.

This story first appeared in the August 22, 2011 issue of WWD.  Subscribe Today.

1926: Ki-sun Khym moves back to Korea after earning a degree from the University of Nebraska.

1977: Ogden Khym, son of Ki-sun, and father of David and Kenny Khym, moves from Korea to the Riverdale section of the Bronx.

1981: David Khym takes the family savings of $10,000, plus a $5,000 line of bank credit, and opens L&L Menswear in the Brownsville section of Brooklyn.

1989: The Khym brothers move the store to Jamaica, Queens, and rename it Metropolitan Total Fashion.

1991: David and Kenny Khym start their own line as Wicked Fashions Inc.

1995: The Southpole brand is founded, under the Wicked Fashions parent company.

1995: Kenny Khym founds the Against All Odds retail chain as a mall-based streetwear store, eventually growing it to almost 80 stores.

2001: Southpole transitions from a premium brand to a midtier brand and enters J.C. Penney for the first time.

2002: Southpole is picked up by Sears.

2002: Southpole is awarded the J.C. Penney Divisional Award for Men’s Apparel.

2002: The Lot29 brand is launched using licensed cartoon characters. The brand is now on hiatus but the company will relaunch it in coming seasons under a different concept.

2003: Southpole launches a juniors line. The brand is awarded the J.C. Penney Divisional Award for Women’s Apparel.

2003: Southpole inks a Japanese distribution license with Wise Harvest.

2004: David Khym is selected as Ernst & Young’s Entrepreneur of the Year.

2005: Pop star Ciara is featured in Southpole juniors advertising.

2006: Southpole launches accessories with the addition of handbags, footwear, headwear and cold weather accessories.

2007: As part of its marketing efforts, Southpole sponsors an outfield billboard at Shea Stadium, the former home of the New York Mets.

2008: The White Tag brand is launched.

2008: The A. Prodigee brand is launched.

2008: Southpole inks a license for infant and toddler apparel.

2008: Against All Odds opens stores in California, just before the financial crisis.

2009: Against All Odds files for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in January and emerges in December. The company now operates 24 stores on the East Coast.

2009: The RS by Ryan Sheckler brand is launched.

2010: The RS by Ryan Sheckler brand is shuttered.

2010: The WT02 brand launches.

2010: Southpole is the fifth-largest denim brand in the U.S., behind Levi’s Wrangler, Lee and Calvin Klein, according to NPD Group figures.

2011: Southpole launches its “Speak up, Step up” anti-bullying campaign.

2011: Southpole relaunches its Web site from a business-to-business format to a consumer-oriented branding site.

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