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Opening Ceremony Cuts Staff Amid Investor Search

Despite diversifying its business in retail, exclusive collaborations and its own house label, the curator of cool, Opening Ceremony, could be facing a bleak outlook.

The New York City-based company laid off 23 employees last week amid a six-month search for an investor in an effort to reprioritize expenses, WWD reported. The layoffs were made across the company, including on the design team.

“These are never easy decisions and we obviously are supportive and thankful for the team that we have,” Opening Ceremony co-founder Carol Lim told WWD. “It was something we felt was actually right for the business and we wanted to remain nimble and productive and do something from a position of strength.”

Lim added that the company will remain focused on projects that are core to its business.

“Retail is still a focus, we’re not planning to open stores this year, but that’s still part of our plan,” she said. “And retail is growing. We’re super excited about the strength of the collection.”

Opening Ceremony currently has two retail stores in New York City, one in Los Angeles and one in Tokyo. It’s women’s, men’s and accessories lines are sold by Barneys New York, Neiman Marcus, Bloomingdale’s and Saks Fifth Avenue.

The company confirmed earlier this year that it was looking for an investor. Berkshire Partners made a minority investment in Opening Ceremony in 2014. The capital was intended to accelerate Opening Ceremony’s growth, including plans to enhance its house label of apparel and accessories, grow its e-commerce capabilities and expand its retail presence.

Opening Ceremony was founded in 2002 by Lim and Humberto Leon—who are also co-creative directors of LVMH-owned Kenzo—as a retail concept to promoted up-and-coming designers and products from different countries.

Similar to the now-defunct Colette in Paris, the store prioritizes eclectic and exclusive designs. It tapped into the collaboration trend early on, partnering with the likes of Teva, Calvin Klein, Levi’s and actress Chloë Sevigny for sought-after collaborations. In March, Opening Ceremony collaborated with Disney for a men’s and women’s collection presented inside Disneyland in California.