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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.

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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