In 2004, Baby Phat, the apparel brand for women and girls that Kimora Lee Simmons made a household name after its launch in 1999, released an iconic piece of technology: the Baby Phat by Kimora Lee Simmons i833 phone by Motorola. Also known as simply the Baby Phat flip phone, it was baby pink with a quilted design on the cover, Kimora’s signature in pink near the inner speaker and a set of 0.4 carat diamonds surrounding the external display. It was the perfect phone for the “bling-bling” era that was the early aughts.
“The original Baby Phat flip is a piece of fashion history,” says Aoki Lee Simmons, 20, who was two when the phone was announced. “It represents an era, a lifestyle, and being able to incorporate it into the brand’s shoots today adds a layer of authenticity and nostalgia that resonates with both longtime fans and a new generation. It’s more than just a phone—it’s become a symbol of the enduring legacy of Baby Phat.”
And no one knows more about the legacy of the brand than Aoki and Ming Lee Simmons. Kimora’s girls have been tasked with bringing Baby Phat and its signature cat to a new generation, which is no small feat.
“Being entrusted with its legacy is both humbling and exciting. There’s a profound sense of responsibility that comes with steering such a renowned brand, and I’m fully aware of the impact it has had over the years,” says Aoki, a recent Harvard graduate who studied classics at the Ivy League institution.
“I think it’s just really exciting,” says Ming, 22, who also recently graduated from New York University after studying fashion business and consumer behavior. “There’s not a lot of pressure. It felt really great to step out of school and fully into working at Baby Phat, because before it was a half on, half off type situation.”
She continues, “I’m really grateful that my mom gave me the opportunity. But it’s also a challenge because working with my mom, my sister, it’s great, but at the same time working with family sometimes gets tricky. We have different views and different ideas.”
Nevertheless, they’ve been able to pool their innovative ideas and insights to not only create some stylish new threads for Baby Phat but also step back into the tech lane in a nostalgic way. They’re partnering with Android to create their brand’s second flip phone, the Baby Phat Galaxy Z Flip 5, as well as a Baby Phat capsule collection that’s premiering at Art Basel December 8 and on NTWRK on December 13. The pieces include a tank top, trucker hat and crew neck sweatshirt covered in the classic Baby Phat logo and lettering but designed with today’s fashionistas in mind.
“This collab is incredibly exciting for me. I’ve always been a tech enthusiast—I used to program and build PC computers, so partnering with an innovator like Android is truly a dream come true,” Aoki shares. “The Baby Phat Galaxy Z Flip 5 is a perfect mix of classic style and contemporary innovation, and that’s what makes it so special.”
The gadget, which has a distinctive look serving Y2K, is not only exciting to the sisters, but also to Adrienne Lofton, the vice president of global consumer marketing at Google. Android is owned by Google.
“A fusion of the best of the past with the best of the future, this partnership will celebrate both a renaissance of Y2K style and the progress we’ve made as a culture as it pertains to technology, inclusivity, and self-expression,” says Lofton. “We gave the sisters creative freedom to design a capsule collection that felt authentic to them as individuals as well as creative partners and you’ll see that in everything from the design of the phone, which really leans into the nostalgia of the early flip phone era, to the apparel.”
By blending the old-school with the new, all three ladies believe the limited edition phone to be a perfect option for all.
“The first person that I ever saw with this type of flip phone is my godmother, and she’s older, and she loved it because its compact and she could flip it, but also it has a screen so she can video call people on it,” Ming shares, noting that she carried a flip phone for most of her youth before they came back in style over the last few years. “There’s so many different things. So I don’t think it’s just for Gen Z, I think it’s for multiple generations.”
And it connects both the Simmons girls with multiple generations too, as the ladies keep everyone from their mom to their modeling agents and college friends as their “favorites” in their own flip phones. But the contacts the sisters both keep at the top of their “favorites” lists? Their little brothers.
“I talk to Kenzo often. He’ll text me like, ‘Can you order me Postmates?’ And I’m like, get your own life!’ He’s like, ‘I don’t have any money.’ But we talk constantly. And then I order him Postmates and he’ll do stuff for me. So I employ,” Ming jokes.
“That’s so funny because I would say Kenzo and Gary too!” adds Aoki. “I’m always like, ‘How’s football? How’s basketball?! Tell me about school!’ We are super involved as big sisters.”
Not only are they their brothers’ keepers, but they’re also newly minted businesswomen proud to take Baby Phat to the next level in fashion and tech. With their latest partnerships, including teaming up with Android for the Galaxy Z Flip 5, the ladies are certainly off to a great start in doing so.
The exclusive capsule collection, including the phone, will be made available via a drawing on NTWRK, with drawing winners revealed during the live episode on Wednesday December 13th at 2PM PST.
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