By Qianna Smith
"The freedom to design
what I wanted."
And as founder and President of Los Angeles based Monarchy Collection,
Eric Kim is calling the shots and rightfully so. Kim's hard work and
creative genius has allowed him to take a design idea and turn it into a
multi-million dollar collection tailor made for the eclectic man and woman
seeking premium apparel. Monarchy has created a distinct look that has
a touch of the London UK punk scene mixed with a rebellious spirit
generating an end result that is totally glam.
Surrounded by a team he refers to as family, the Monarchy Collection is
emerging as a top American lifestyle brand and a front runner in high-
fashion denim, trendsetting graphic tees, fine jewelry, watches,
accessories and much more! Since Fall 2008 and his 2 recent showings
at New York Fashion Week, Kim's designs have shown a clear indication
that this line offers a wide range of clothing that is versatile, young and on
the cutting edge of fashion. Hollywood A-lists such as Tommy Lee, Rob
Lowe, Jon Bon Jovi, Nick Lachey, Ashton Kutcher, Laura Prepon, Jack and
Kelly Osbourne, Tori Spelling, Jamie Kennedy, Good Charlotte and Adrien
Grenier are mad for Monarchy and they are just a few named celebrities
spotted in the collections designs.
With such a high demand, Monarchy is currently sold in retail stores
nationwide and online. When asked about plans to open a flagship store
Kim affirmed, "We are opening our first Flagship store hopefully early next
year. We are going to open in Los Angeles first, then hopefully New York
City. I’m really excited about it as I can design and merchandise the store
completely in the vision of Monarchy."
Clearly Kim is a man with a vision, driving down the road of success.
FashionQandA.com talked candidly with the designer about his creative
muse, future plans and staying grounded.
FQA: What’s the meaning behind the Monarchy Collection?What stage in
your career were you when you got the idea for the line?
ERIC: Honestly, I just felt that Monarchy Collection was a cool name. I had
archived a ton of names that I thought would be great for fashion brands,
and as I wanted to create a line that had a European vibe with the Union
Jack being the brand’s symbol, Monarchy made sense. At the time of
Monarchy’s inception, I was President of Interstate which had a huge retail
division, private label, home division, 100,000 square foot warehouse, etc.
I know that if I really wanted to venture out on my own and create a fashion
brand, the time to do it was then, as I was already beginning to be
overwhelmed by responsibility and I probably would have gotten locked into
the situation I was in. I had made some money, met my partner who was
willing to invest, so it was purely the right time for me.
FQA: Before realizing that you had the potential to create and launch a
multi-million dollar brand, what excited you about fashion and fashion
ERIC: Having the ability to be creative and have complete control of the
vision of a company excited me. The freedom to design what I wanted, and
what I felt the market place needed really turned me on.
FQA: Where does your passion to be a designer and entrepreneur
ERIC: I was really creative at a very young age. I remember hording through
my parent’s junk drawers, finding random objects and gluing them together
to create abstract art. I think that you are either born creative or you are
taught by your environment and upbringing. I feel I was born with it.
Regarding being an entrepreneur, I think that stemmed from my hunger
and drive for success. My family struggled when I was young, and I envied
my friends with the big houses and sleek lifestyles. I knew I wanted
success, and in order to achieve my goals, I’d have to work my ass off. So I
did, my whole life.
FQA: As a boss, how would the Monarchy family describe you?
ERIC: It’s funny that you mentioned “family” as we truly are. The majority of my employees are great friends
of mine who I got to hire as my company expanded. I feel that I am only as good as my team, and I treat my
employees as team members, plain and simple. I think my crew would compare me to a Tony Robbins, as
I am a motivator as opposed to a dictator. We have a ton of perks here, but I think the most apparent is that
we have all the luxuries of a corporate environment without working in a corporate environment. I
personally could not stand coming to work every day in a suit, so why should I subject my people to that. I
think that type of environment stifles creativity, and creativity is everything we are about. We give all our
people heath care, paid vacations, summer half day Friday’s, fully paid maternity leave, and most
importantly, job security. I must say, it is a really cool place to work.
FQA: How has your life changed since the $12
million dollar purchase of Monarchy by Chicago-
based Hartmarx Corp.?
ERIC: I pay a lot more taxes.
FQA: With so much success so soon, how do you
stay grounded and focused?
ERIC: I just don’t let it all go to my head. I am clear
that I am very lucky. I had that right idea and the
right product for the right time. The premium
clothing industry is really hard especially in this
current economy, and I feel so grateful that I have
had the success I have had with Monarchy.
FQA: Where do you like to go when you want to escape the grind of Los
ERIC: I go to the beach. I love the ocean. It is my favorite place to chill. I
went to Hawaii four times last year, St. Tropez, Nice, Cabo San Lucas.
Anytime I travel, there is an ocean involved.
FQA: With your designs being sold in retail stores nationwide and online,
do have plans to open up a Monarchy Collection flagship store? What
city would you chose as the Monarchy fashion Mecca?
ERIC: We are opening our first Flagship store hopefully early next year. We
are going to open in LA first, then hopefully NYC. I’m really excited about it
as I can design and merchandise the store completely in the vision of
Monarchy. I think that London would be my fashion Mecca.
FQA: What person, place or thing would you say is the Monarchy creative
ERIC: Person would be Vivian Westwood. She is just about the coolest and
most innovative person on the planet to me. Place would be London, and
thing would be film.
FQA: What are your future plans for Monarchy?
ERIC: My mission is to be an American staple brand. Diesel has been
around since the 70’s, and I would love for Monarchy to have that kind of
longevity I feel that there was a need in America for an answer to G-Star,
Energie and Diesel, and my goal with Monarchy is to become that.
|"The majority of my employees are great friends of
mine who I got to hire as my company expanded. I feel
that I am only as good as my team."
FQA: Monarchy fashions definitely appear to have a UK/rockin’ roll Fall
ERIC: Our outerwear and our denim. As we are now a full lifestyle brand with
fine jewelry, watches, and accessories on top of the clothing, we invested a
large portion of our Fall/Holiday ’08 collection in incredible jackets, trenches,
coats, vests and blazers as well as expanding our denim techniques. I don’t
know if I would call it edgy or risky as the core of our business has always
been primarily t-shirts, thermals and hoodies. We are really stepping out of
the box to put into fruition my goal of becoming America’s Diesel.
FQA: If you had to pick 3 musicians that embodied the Monarchy spirit,
which artists or bands would you choose and why? What influence does
music have on your designs, if any?
ERIC: Musicians would be Cold Play, The Killers and The Clash. Music is
incredibly influential in our designs. Our Art Director blares music all day in
the design room. If a particular designer does not like the daily selection, he
wears headphones blaring his own choice of music. I think that music is
the most inspirational art form we have as it creates mood, and whatever
mood the designers are feeling is reflected in the graphics that they create.