Russell Simmons Steps Down As CEO Of Phat Fashions

Russell Simmons has stepped down as CEO of Phat Fashions, the company he founded in 1992, that launched the popular Phat Farm brand of clothing.

Simmons sold Phat Fashions to Kellwood for $140 million in cash in January of 2004, but stayed on as CEO, managing the day-to-day operations of the company, including the marketing of the Phat Farm and Baby Phat lines of clothing and the company's various brands.

"I have enjoyed my association with Kellwood over the last three years," Simmons said in a statement. "We have accomplished much during this short period of time -- and I leave the division and the brand in great hands. There are so many things I want to achieve, and this is the appropriate moment for me to move on to my next business venture."

While he stepped down as CEO of Phat Fashions, which includes the Baby Phat division headed by his estranged wife Kimora Lee Simmons, Simmons will continue to run the Russell Simmons-Argyleculture and Atman brands, which will become his trademark properties.

All Phat Fashions brands will continued to be operated, distributed and licensed by Phat Fashions and its parent company, Kellwood which also holds licensing rights to brands like Calvin Klein, XoXo, Nautica, Claiborne and others.

"Russell Simmons is one of the true pioneers of the urban lifestyle fashion business," said Robert C. Skinner, Jr., Kellwood chairman, president, and chief executive officer. "He leaves an outstanding creative legacy at Phat Fashions, and we will continue to build on that heritage as Phat Fashions continues to break through boundaries and set the standard for innovative design and high quality sportswear."

Phat Fashions announced a new partnership with Longstreet Industries, a division of Stretch-O-Rama, Inc., to design and market a new line of Phat Farm and a new line, XV.

"We are honored to be chosen by Phat Fashions to produce these collections. This agreement strengthens our existing relationship with the company and we look forward to working with them to boost the power and presence of the Phat Farm name," said Steven Arnold, president of Longstreet's branded divisions.

Longstreet will launch its first collection with the Spring 08 season.

In related news, Simmons' Diamond Empowerment Fund (D.E.F.) will host the "Hampton's Go Green" fundraising event at the Hampton's mansion of club owners Mark Birnbaum and Eugene Remm.

Proceeds from the event will go to the CIDA City Campus educational institution in Johannesburg, South Africa.

Models Petra Nemcova, Leilani Bishop, Kiara Kabukuru, Katie Rost, Helena Houdova, Aneta Kuklova and a host of other celebrities will be on hand to model jewelry and support the invitation-only fundraiser, which takes place September 1 from 5 to 8 pm.