“I recently just purchased [Baby Phat] back,” the fashion entrepreneur told Bloomberg Friday (March 8). “I’ll be relaunching that and rolling that out this year. For many people who know me, they remember that it’s always been a family journey for me.”
Kimora made the big reveal while discussing International Women’s Day, and the UN Women and Gender Innovation Coalition for Change’s “SHE Innovates” campaign promoting gender equality in the work place.
“It’s very important that you have women on both sides — women as the end user, women as the creator[s],” she explained. “We are such a big consumer, we are responsible for so many of the dollars floating around. We need to take more of that responsibility and own it. And it needs to be targeted towards us.”
The mother of four also shared that her daughters, Ming Lee Simmons, 19, and Aoki Lee Simmons, 16, will be helping her run the revamped company. The sisters became a fashion fixture on the Baby Phat runway closing out the shows along with their mom.
The women’s fashion line was founded in 1999 by Kimora and her ex-husband Russell Simmons, under the Phat Fashions imprint, which also housed Phat Farm. With Kimora at the helm, Baby Phat became one of fashion’s premiere women’s streetwear brands bringing in $1 billion in sales, according to Women’s Wear Daily.
In 2004, the Kellwood Company acquired Baby Phat for $140 million. Kimora served as creative director of the line from 2004 until 2010. Baby Phat’s popularity is due in part to its support from hip-hop and R&B artists including Lil’ Kim, Mary J. Blige, Destiny’s Child, Alicia Keys, and more. But the surge of major fashion companies like Moschino, Fendi, and Marc Jacobs, making collections that appeal to, and appropriate from, hip-hop culture, shows the influence of Baby Phat’s design aesthetic.
With this year being the 20th anniversary of the line, the timing is “perfect” to excavate a brand that “still resonates with people and lives deep in their soul,” Kimora told WWD. The line is described as a “mainstream sportswear” collection targeted to Millennials, and will include “retro” elements. “We’re working fast and furiously and have a lot up our sleeves.”
Fans can expect to see the return of Baby Phat’s signature rhinestone cat symbol, but the reboot will also feature a mixture of nostalgia and “new messaging.”