Opening Ceremony kicked off the year with some bittersweet news: It was planning on closing all of its boutiques “sometime in 2020” to focus on its in-house line. Now, its stylish supporters won’t have a chance to give the pioneering concept retailer a fashionable final send-off after all, as the brand has announced that its Los Angeles and New York boutiques have shuttered for good.
In an email and Instagram note sent to customers this morning, co-founders Humberto Leon and Carol Lim revealed that Opening Ceremony’s two remaining U.S. stores wouldn’t reopen following their temporary closures on March 15; the Tokyo outpost said sayonara in January. “We had the best-laid plans to celebrate with you in our stores. To reminisce, hug you, and have one last hurrah. We were going to set up a karaoke machine and ask you to sing a song with us. Make you a drink and give you some snacks,” the duo wrote in the announcement.
Lim and Leon continue: “We were going to work in the stores for our last month so that we could thank you and hang out the way we did in 2002 when we first opened. But while that is not in the cards, the feelings of gratefulness and love are still there.”
The good news? As Women’s Wear Daily previously reported, Opening Ceremony’s in-house collection will live on under its partnership with New Guard Group. Per OC’s announcement, its online store will remain open until Wednesday, June 10 and gift cards will be accepted until then.
Raised in Southern California, Lim and Leon met as students at UC Berkeley and went on to work in the fashion industry. In 2002, they debuted their Olympics-inspired boutique in New York as a hobby, with the expectation that they’d stay put at their day jobs. (Michael Stipe was their first customer, according to the L.A. Times.) Instead, Opening Ceremony morphed into an influential haven that championed the world’s coolest labels and under-the-radar designers. Per The Cut, the duo went on to collaborate with the likes of Nike, Rodarte, Chloë Sevigny, Spike Jonze, and many others.
In 2007, the duo opened OC’s first L.A. store in Charlie Chaplin’s former dance studio in West Hollywood. The brand debuted its first international outpost in Tokyo’s Shibuya district in 2009 (it later relocated to Omotesando) and arrived in London’s Covent Garden in 2012 (that location closed in 2018.) Throughout all of that, they led iconic label Kenzo as creative directors from 2011 to 2019, according to Vogue.
Read Lim and Leon’s full letter below. The brand is currently offering 30% off storewide with code TORCHPASS30 — shop while you still can (and stock up on commemorative merch) online here, and share your fondest memories of your OC shopping sprees in the comments.
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Dear Opening Ceremony Family, Five months ago we wrote to you explaining what felt like a seismic shift in how we were going to transform our company. It is difficult to put into words how small this feels as we watch the world we once operated in completely change in front of our eyes. We send our love to all those who have lost someone during this time and to all the dedicated front line workers and essential staff that have allowed us to stay safe and take the easiest role by staying home in helping us get through this time. We had the best laid plans to celebrate with you in our stores. To reminisce, hug you and have one last hurrah. We were going to set up a karaoke machine and ask you to sing a song with us. Make you a drink and give you some snacks. We were going to work in the stores for our last month so that we could thank you and hang out the way we did in 2002 when we first opened. But while that is not in the cards, the feelings of gratefulness and love are still there. Our stores will not reopen but that doesn’t mean we are gone. We will continue to operate our website through the beginning of June and will be back in a new form later this year. So if you are still hanging onto a web gift card, hurry now and come pick something online by June 10th. If you are holding onto a physical store card you need to hurry too! Please contact us at [email protected] to enable for web purchases. We started Opening Ceremony after the tragic September 11th attacks and will end this chapter with the Covid-19 pandemic but from these moments of darkness we hope to bring a new way of connecting to our community. Opening Ceremony always operated with a refresh button and more so than ever we are excited to think about what this next phase means. We will relaunch our website this year and continue to use our platform to talk about topics that are important to us. We will continue supporting and uplifting our community, bringing different people from around the world together. We can’t wait to celebrate with you in person once again. Thank you to our staff and team who have all contributed to the humanity and spirit of Opening Ceremony. Love Carol & Humberto
Opening Ceremony, 451 North La Cienega Blvd., West Hollywood, 90048