Simmons didn’t say how much she paid for acquisition of the brand, but told WWD, “We had to hunt around to find it.”
Encouraged by her two daughters, Ming Lee and Aoki Simmons, to take back on creative direction of the label, Simmons described the upcoming relaunch as “mainstream sportswear” for Millennials that will target the mid-tier retail customer. Leissner noted she had taken inspiration from her “amazing personal archive” for the collection, which will combine throwback and current style elements.
Baby Phat was founded in 1999 as the women’s extension of Phat Farm, a label started by her then-husband Russell Simmons. Simmons stayed on with the brand as a creative director when it was sold to Kellwood Company in 2004, and oversaw its expansion into fragrance, lingerie children’s clothing and home goods.
Sales began to sag in 2008 following the Great Recession and Kellwood Company sold the brand. In August 2010, Simmons announced via Tweet that she was planning to leave the brand. On her departure she told the Daily News at the time, “It’s over. It’s absolutely over. It was very abrupt and sudden. I was shocked. It’s very, very sad for me. It was totally unexpected.”
Since leaving Baby Phat, Simmons married former Golman Sacs executive Tim Leissner with whom she has a four-year-old son. She also has an eight-year-old son with Djimon Hounsou.