Staging a high-octane runway show during New York Fashion Week is an expensive and demanding proposition—made exponentially more difficult when your parent company declares bankruptcy just a few weeks before the event.
That’s what happened to L.A.-based Monarchy, which is owned by the venerable Hartmarx Corp., which fi led for Chapter 11 protection in late January. But rather than folding plans for their first New York show, the original founders of Monarchy, Eric Kim and Henry Kim (who are not related), found outside sponsors and bankrolled the remaining costs from their own pockets.
“We thought it was important to go ahead,” said Eric Kim at the Project trade show in Las Vegas, a few days after his well-received Feb. 14 event at the Bryant Park tents. He estimated the runway show cost about $200,000, and sponsors— including Johnson & Johnson’s K-Y Jelly— picked up about 40 percent of the tab while the two Kims put up about 60 percent. (“It was a little embarrassing, but a paying sponsor is a good sponsor in these times,” said Kim of K-Y. “And the show was on Valentine’s Day.”)
The two Kims have good reason to continue investing in the brand they founded in 2005 and then sold to Hartmarx in 2007. The duo still run Monarchy—Eric is chief executive and creative director, Henry is chief operating offi cer—and have earnout clauses on future earnings. They expect the brand to survive the Hartmarx bankruptcy, as Monarchy is a growing contemporary label with about $30 million in sales in 1,200 retail doors, according to Eric Kim.
At press time, Hartmarx was being shopped to several interested parties. The company could be sold in one piece—which would include the storied Hickey-Freeman, Hart Schaffner Marx and Bobby Jones brands—or broken up into separate deals.