What Does The Closure Of Opening Ceremony Stores Mean For Retail In 2020?



After 18 years of teeming the industry with such ingenious brands from different parts of the globe, Opening Ceremony shuts down all of its stores.

Following more news on the fall of brick and mortar stores is Opening Ceremony. While they haven’t filed for bankruptcy like other fast-fashion brands like Forever21 and Topshop, they will be joining the roster of retailers such as Henri Bendel and Barneys New York that has closed its physical boutiques.

In a series of Instagram posts, Opening Ceremony’s co-founders, Carol Lim and Humberto Leon announced the changes in their business. “It’s incredibly emotional for us to announce today that we will be closing our Opening Ceremony retail locations sometime in 2020,” the caption read. “We’ve made a decision to focus on growing Opening Ceremony collection and brand with our new partners, New Guards Group, and expand the designs.”

It has recently been reported on Business of Fashion that the Farfetch-owned luxury fashion holding company New Guards Group (who also owns streetwear brands like Off-White and Palm Angels) has acquired the Opening Ceremony trademark and intellectual property. Once it was purchased, they have been planning to take over the production line and move it to Milan.

But even with all the radical changes on the New York-established high-end retailer, the duo saw it as an opportunity to grow bigger. “Ultimately, in this time of immense change in the way people shop, we still believe in the power of passionate and unique retail. But we also believe in the necessity for change, reflection and an opportunity to refresh.”

Open At The Close

Ever since 2002, Opening Ceremony has provided New Yorkers a unique taste of fashion by offering goods from many emerging young designers and cool brands. And this was only a year after downtown New York was forever changed, after the bombing of the World Trade Center.

And it was at that time when Carol and Humberto started out by only using their modest savings and asked their friends to sell their clothes at their store in an area of Soho that had not yet been developed. With an aim to change the traditional model of how retail works in the Big Apple, they have created a vibrant and inclusive community through self-expression. And this was impeccably embodied in the name “Opening Ceremony” and the idea from where it came, the Olympics.

So, slowly and surely, the duo filled their racks with great designer brands from across the world and also started their own collection, giving a handful of offerings. High-end labels such as Proenza Schouler, Alexander Wang, and Rodarte were juxtaposed with designers from Hong Kong and Brazil who had never been sold before in America.

“Opening Ceremony has expanded and evolved in countless ways since those first years in business,” the duo shared. “We’ve grown our own collection, starting from the platform of our first store, into a global Opening Ceremony brand for which we’ve held some of the most ambitious experiential fashion shows imaginable.”

However, with every story comes to a plot twist. And for Opening Ceremony, this huge step to let go of its physical stores and focus on building their own empire will serve as theirs. “This is a moment of transition for Opening Ceremony and, together with our new partners, we are taking the chance to step back and evaluate the future of our Opening Ceremony retail experience.”

“We are stepping back from multi-brand retail, for a moment, so we can come back with an experience that is just as inspiring, filled with love and relevant for the years ahead as Opening Ceremony has been,” they added. So, perhaps we may well assume that there’s still a chance. But while it could be a great opportunity for the label’s growth, it’s still hard for some to see it as anything than another illustration of the decay of retail.

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