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Monarchy: Its What You Get When Fashion Creates Culture

By Takeisha Rayson

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Takeisha Rayson and Eric Kim, Founder/Designer of the Monarchy Collection

If you look back over history, you are more than likely to define any given era with fashion.  The 20s were synonymous with the flapper dress, the 40s ushered in an era of glamour and the 70s were an expression of love, peace and freedom through hippie inspired trends.  As we move into a new era of fashion, there is one look that we are sure to find synonymous with the 21st Century.  This look can simply be defined as Monarchy.  Much like its Webster dictionary defined counterpart, Monarchy the clothing line has been the sole ruler of what we have grown to identify with as rock-star chic.  You know the punk-esque inspired trends from the streets of London?  You’ve seen everyone from Madonna and Kid Rock to Beyonce and Kanye West incorporating the look into their style closets. Naturally, that has had designers perched and ready to jump on the passing Monarchy ban wagon since its inception.  “This aesthetic is the most widely ripped-off aesthetic there is,” states Eric Kim, founder and creator of Monarchy. “Everyone from Billabong to the Gap to Sean Jean is doing the look.”  And I couldn’t agree with him more. But regardless of who is copying the trend, there can only be one originator.   Let’s take a look into a world where Monarchy rules.

Monarchy, it's more than fashion, it's a culture

Eric Kim was born and raised in Los Angeles, CA where he once had dreams of designing furniture.  After graduating from design school in 1994, he discovered that his gift for designing clothing pressed more on him than his ability towards interior design. With degree in hand, Kim went to work for the popular late 90s clothing chain Rampage. “Rampage back then was what Forever 21 is for consumers today,” chuckles Kim.  Although gaining valuable real world design lessons in the area of Junior Women’s clothing, his desire to compound upon his knowledge in the area of men’s sportswear soon lead him to work for a company called Pure Garden.  With Pure Garden, he was able to design sportswear for large consumer chains such as Nordstrom and Bloomingdale’s. When the combination of talent, love and opportunity mix, it forms a cosmic concoction that we often reference as luck, success, blessings…you get the picture.  Success was Kim’s beverage of choice for the next five years as he went on to create his own labels through the line eventually grossing the company nearly $36 million. Yeah, 36 million.  

Eric Kim is always busy at work (l), One of his team members hard at work (r)

With that much profit highlighted on his curriculum vitae, it wasn’t long before recruiters came knocking.  The Vice President door was opened for Kim at the clothing line Interstate where he was quickly ushered into the role of CEO.  “While at Interstate, I started a line called Arch Angel which was the learning template for Monarchy,” states Kim. The edginess and raw appeal of Arch Angel played a dual role in the next phase of Kim’s life.  He figured that he needed to do something unparallel to what he had done before, so he closed the door at Interstate in order to open the door to his own company.

Members of the team do what they do best to contribute to the collection

“If you don’t have heart and don’t take risks, you will not make it in this business,” recites Kim as he reflects back on his beginnings. “I had a friend in production, Henry Kim, with whom I started the design company ‘Garden of Earthly Delights.’  We started in a warehouse and was literally dumping money into it for about 6 months.”  Around the same time, Kim didn’t let his own drive for success steer him from lending a helping hand to friends.  As a means of giving back some of what the Universe was allowing him to receive, he turned a $100,000 a year profit of a fledging, yet innovative clothing line called Five/Four into $3.5 million within a year. 

Work never ceases at the Monarchy Design Suite

Focusing back to his own business, Kim stated that after that 6 month period concentrating on the haute couture line of Garden of Earthly Delight, he and his partner knew that they needed to market a high-end but less expensive line during what he references as the “incubation period” of the Garden line.  This is when Monarchy was birthed.  As an admirer of Vivian Westwood and her stamp on the creation of the whole punk inspired look of the 80s, both Kims knew they wanted to tap into this look, but reinvent what was hot on the streets of London to what’s trans-globally considered hot for any decade.  “Since the beginning, we have designed much more than denim and t-shirts,” exerts Kim.  However, just one of their t-shirts costs more to make than it is to buy, which is a lot different than most t-shirt manufactures.  Instead of slapping a label onto a random shirt, all Monarchy’s t-shirt designs are produced by hand through the artwork of Sutash stitching or their trademarked British embroidery. 

Art Director, Dax Hall works on new designs

Tracie May, Monarchy’s Director of Public Relations, has been a strong supporter and fan of the line even before garnering her coveted position.  Honest advocacy of a quality brand makes any PR Directors job that much more fulfilling.  May states, “Consistent, artistic reinvention is what the company is about.  By the time other designers are trying to imitate what Monarchy is doing, we have already moved on to the next thing.”  A lot of this innovativeness comes from the fact that the creative team is just that, creative.  “I don’t look for the big, elaborate resume,” Kim states when referencing whom he chooses to bring on board.  “I look for talent.”  And if you have talent, then Kim is sure to notice regardless of your background and current occupation. “The Director of International Sales was his hairdresser,” resounds May.  Talk about a career move.  But these are exactly the type of antics that makes Monarchy work, and boy does it work well. 

There is never a dull moment when working with Monarchy

With tons of celebrities clamoring for his designs, I asked both Kim and May who they thought was a clear representation of what the line is all about.  “David Beckham,” Kim declares. And, why wouldn’t he be?  After all he is everything that Monarchy is, a ruler, a trendsetter and he’s British.  “Another good person to look at is Jeremy Piven who is a huge fan of the line,” adds May.  Well, I may not be a celebrity yet and I may not even be British, but trust me from this day forward I am Monarchy! 

All Monarchy jeans and pants have one-of-a-kind hand stitching exclusive to the label

So what’s next for the design team?  Well, Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week is on the forefront of everyone’s mind.  “This year, Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week has an eco-friendly theme and Monarchy will use this as a platform for this season,” states May.  “But that’s all I can tell you about the upcoming collection…it is going to literally blow what was done last season away.”  May sure knows how to keep us on the edge of our seat and trust me that I will be on the edge of mine during fashion week.  I can’t wait and I know you can’t either!  Until then, if you want to reign in the kingdom that Monarchy is building, be sure to check out the line at your fine department stores or log onto the Website at www.monarchycollection.com.

Additional images of the design boards

Designers use sketches to come up with designs

Design boards

From concept to visual depiction, Monarchy comes to life

 

Published on Sep 07, 2007

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