In January, Opening Ceremony—the New York City-based “innovative retail environment and global brand retail experience bridging the worlds of style, travel, and culture”—announced it would be closing all of its locations in New York, London, Los Angeles, and Tokyo. The company, which was founded in 2002 by college friends Carol Lim and Humberto Leon, introduced style-savvy customers to labels like Proenza Schouler, Alexander Wang, and Rodarte, as well as to its own designs. It was acquired by New Guards Group, which is owned by the global e-retail brand Farfetch (another interesting name, no?).
In a retrospective, The Cut tells the story of Opening Ceremony’s genesis and naming:
Carol and Humberto meet every Sunday to hash out a business plan over dim sum — cheung fun (shrimp rice rolls), turnip cakes, chive dumplings, and pork buns — at Jing Fong on Elizabeth Street. The hard part is coming up with a name.
Humberto: It had to be rooted in the idea of travel. We kept throwing out names like “Terminal” and then we would be like, “Oh my God, no. That sounds like ‘terminally ill.’ ”
Carol: They all seemed so pretentious.
Humberto: Our friend Shannon Han was like, “What about ‘Opening Ceremony?’ ” And we were like, “You can’t really make fun of that.” Ceremony is a hard word to be bitchy about.
Riffing on the idea of the Olympics, they decide that each year will be dedicated to a different country, with designers from around the world “competing” with local ones.
It sounds flippant, but this is in fact a good example of lateral thinking—a productive and effective way to develop names that are suggestive (evocative) rather than descriptive (literal). The concept of travel led Carol and Humberto first to airports—literal—and then to “ways the world comes together,” which led to the Olympics. The Olympic Games would be a source of literal names for a sporting-goods store, but it’s a lateral association for a high-end niche fashion company.