Sunday, September 19, 2010

Kellwood, Kimora and Kindling

As I continue to ponder the dismissal of Kimora Lee Simmons from Phat Fashions/Baby Phat by parent company Kellwood, one thing sticks out to me most. Kimora, a woman of both Asian and African-American descent, is one of only a handful of designers in the fashion industry who can be classified as a person of color. This is especially important to consider with regards to Baby Phat and Phat Fashions because the brands have a predominately urban and African-American customer base. Not that the products in the line aren't purchased by all races and demographics, because they are, but the foundation of the brands is mostly urban.

So, you have a woman of color leading the charge at a still successful brand after more than a decade, a customer base that is probably just as loyal, if not more, to her than the actual brand itself and a group of executives at a hub of retail brands which has yet to see the forest for the trees. Kellwood's silent and cowardly dismissal of Kimora has allowed them to continue to profit from sales of Baby Phat items as her fan base continues to make purchases under the assumption that she is still leading the company. This has to stop.

If Kellwood feels that they can manage Baby Phat better than she could, then they need to step out and make a public statement as to why they made this decision. Let the customer base know what the real situation is.

As far as I'm concerned, Kellwood has offended my racial sensibilities by not making a public statement. Would they have dismissed the creative directors at Sag Harbor or David Meister in such a tongue in cheek fashion? No statement, no assurance to the customer base, nothing? I don't think so. Kellwood has made it apparent that they don't respect the urban or African-American customer as they've dismissed Kimora in much the same fashion that a wreckless pet owner puts a litter of kittens in a box and places it on the side of the road.

Much of this is speculation on my part. Absolutely. Who knows what actually went down behind closed doors but the parties involved? But, it is not speculation that Kimora has stated repeatedly that it wasn't her choice and she did not want to leave Phat Fashions. Kellwood has been silent on the matter. So, what are we to think and do? There's only one sensible thing that we can do and that's to boycott all further purchases of any Baby Phat/Phat Farm items. We will use the little nuggets of information that we have been given in this news article and that one as a type of kindling to keep the raging fire of disgust that we feel for the way this has been handled burning. No respect? No dollars. --Sugar

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