“Opening Ceremony was a neighborhood first, after which vogue simply got here with it,” says model innovator and all-around cool impresario, Humberto Leon. The legacy of Opening Ceremony — the conceptual retail area he co-founded in 2002 with Carol Lin — continues to stay on, by means of seasonal drops, collaborative activations, and the legions of millennial followers it raised. Earlier than internet hosting a particular dinner with Ugg, the multi-hyphenate chatted with POPSUGAR about his earliest recollections of the comfy model, persevering with the spirit of Opening Ceremony, his household restaurant, and the opportunity of a return to brick and mortar.
“I grew up in California, so Ugg to me goes hand and hand with seaside tradition,” Leon tells POPSUGAR. His earliest recollections of the label harken again to his time on the College of California, Berkeley. “My first yr of school, I bear in mind getting my first pair (of Uggs) and actually with the ability to work it into my model, in addition to my way of life.” Talking of Ugg’s place as a dependable staple, he says: “it is form of one thing that I’ve simply all the time had, whether or not it is in my trunk or in my closet, irrespective of the place I stay — I really feel prefer it’s like one of the snug issues you’ll be able to put on.”
Like Ugg, Leon has constructed his profession round collaboration: he is partnered with Dickies, H&M, Coca-Cola, and not too long ago with Los Angeles-based teen punk band, the Linda Lindas (Ugg, for its half, counts Telfar, Eckhaus Latta, and Molly Goddard amongst its collaborators).
On prime of the impeccably-curated inventory of rising labels, collaboration is on the middle of Opening Ceremony’s model ethos, with devoted followers awaiting each drop. “Collaborating is one thing that we have all the time achieved,” says Leon. With Opening Ceremony (affectionately dubbed “OC”) celebrating its twentieth anniversary this yr, he says “we’re really launching numerous tremendous enjoyable collaborations to have a good time — I am actually enthusiastic about it.”
Since shuttering the brick and mortar part in 2020, the OC co-founder has devoted extra time to increasing his inventive retailers. Earlier this yr he teamed up with McDonald’s for “Corridor of Zodiacs: 2022 Lunar New Yr with Humberto Leon,” an immersive expertise set within the Metaverse, designing digital animal statues. He additionally explored music video course on the prime of the yr, lensing the visible for The Linda Lindas’ single, “Rising Up”.
“With vogue, some folks typically really feel polarized, or not trendy sufficient. However with meals, it is actually one thing that may communicate to everyone — as a result of everybody can relate.”
“I simply take into consideration each touchpoint,” he says. “I’ve all the time been very out of the field, even at Opening Ceremony.” This out-of-box pondering segued completely into his latest enterprise: his household restaurant Chifa. The stylish fusion eatery, located in Northeast Los Angeles, seems like an extension of OC, solely with delectable Chinese language and Peruvian delicacies. Chifa catered a dinner at Ugg’s Really feel Home, a multi-sensory expertise to seize the tactile feeling of the model’s key items. The visitor record included names like Elsa Hosk and Soo Joo Park. “It’s a must to strive our Black Pepper prawns,” says Leon. “It has this type of peppery, spicy, style — it is scrumptious.”
On the restaurant, the jade inexperienced exterior flows seamlessly into the decor inside, with jade inexperienced tables and chairs, terrazzo flooring, and jade inexperienced burled wooden motif wall overlaying. It is a sensory feast for the eyes — and style palette. “It is simply one other platform to create,” he says. “I believe with Chifa, it is actually about constructing this unbelievable neighborhood.” This neighborhood consists of his household, with whom he co-owns and runs the area, and the various loyal clients obsessed together with his mother’s signature dishes.
“I take into consideration meals, and it is one of the, democratic methods for folks to get pleasure from one thing collectively,” he says. “With vogue, some folks typically really feel polarized, or not trendy sufficient. However with meals, it is actually one thing that may communicate to everyone — as a result of everybody can relate.”
In typical Humberto Leon vogue, after all, Chifa is a nest for exploration, collaboration, and merch. He is activating the restaurant in a similar way to OC, by means of customized playlists curated by celeb pals and particular capsule merch collections. “We’re doing a second assortment with the sweet firm Candy Saba that I am actually enthusiastic about,” says Leon. Confectioner Maayan Zilberman beforehand made a capsule of Jade, jewellery sweet for the restaurant that immediately offered out.
“We’re additionally restarting our dinner collection collaboration dishes,” he says. The favored collection explored completely different takes on dishes together with his many well-known pals, together with Ali Wong, Solange, Spike Jones, and Padma Lakshmi. For Solange’s curated dish, ‘Trinity Fried Rice’, the pair celebrated the hyperlink between the “Once I Get Dwelling” singer’s Third Ward (Houston) roots, and the traditional Chinese language herb trinity of garlic, scallions, and ginger — parts typically used at Chifa.
“As People, we have all the time been divided and pitted in opposition to one another, so determining ways in which we will really work collectively needs to be the intention.”
We’re presently witnessing an increase in anti-Asian violence, hate speech, and rhetoric, making it much more vital to proceed supporting Asian-centered companies. Humberto has been a vocal advocate of how greatest the style business, specifically, can actively be allies for the Asian neighborhood. “I believe it is actually about supporting the neighborhood and supporting these marginalized teams,” says Leon. “From Black Lives Matter and Cease AAPI Hate, it is vital actually not solely simply to point out up, and to speak about any such social justice, however to essentially begin exploring these relationships.”
He continues: “As People, we have all the time been always divided and pitted in opposition to one another, [so] determining ways in which we will really work collectively as People, and never be subdivided the way in which we have now, needs to be the intention.”
Activist, designer, restaurateur: Humberto Leon’s affect spans far past anybody business. However followers hope his inventive journey will in the end lead him again into the retail area. “We will certainly faucet again into brick and mortar shops for Opening Ceremony in some unspecified time in the future,” he says. “I really like brick and mortar, so I believe it is inevitable to return again to it.”
Maintain scrolling for photographs from Ugg’s “Really feel Home” dinner with Humberto Leon’s Chifa restaurant.