Humberto Leon is mostly known for his work with co-designer Carol Lim on the opening ceremony of his own brand, and for his eight-year stint as creative director for Kenzo. has taken on a different role as a restaurateur.
In 2020, Leon opened Chifa, a Chinese-Peruvian restaurant inspired by his dual heritage. Now he’s opening his second restaurant, Monarch. Unlike Chifa, Monarch is in the heart of Los Angeles, in the relatively quiet city of Arcadia, about 13 miles outside of Los Angeles. Mainly Hong Kong cuisine. The Infatuation called it “incredibly, insanely adorable” and Chifa gave rave reviews.
“I approach fashion and food in a very similar way,” Leon said. “Whether it’s fashion, food, candles or honey, having a strong story and branding gives you a stepping stone to branch out into other territories.”
Leon brings some of his fashion expertise to the venture, launching Monarch with a complete capsule collection of merchandise and accessories. Contains clothing that can easily be mistaken for. The product was created in collaboration with his VistaPrint, a company that creates merchandise, business cards, and other ephemera for small businesses. You can buy it at Monarch’s online shop.
Designers like Leon are well positioned to move between fashion and fine dining. Did. Some, like Monsieur Dior at Dior in Paris, are located in or attached to brand stores. Others, such as Burberry’s Thomas Café, are independent fine dining restaurants that are not directly affiliated with a brand.
It is no coincidence that it is primarily the luxury brands that are embracing prominence in the dining world. I’ve refined the atmosphere. The restaurant also allows him to extend the life of his fashion brand and expand the brand’s reach, especially for people who can’t afford a $500 dress.
And while fashion brands are opening restaurants, non-apparel brands are also seeing opportunities to sell fashion for brand building purposes. Brands from McDonald’s to Polaroid have released limited-time fashion collections in recent months. And even small parts of the fashion experience can be selling points, like the gold stickers on New Era hats that some buyers leave as a point of pride.
“The idea that every touch counts is now an important part of brand building,” said Engelberg.
Leon’s strategy, unlike the likes of Dior and Louis Vuitton, wants to completely separate restaurants and fashion brands. Opening he never mentioned branding the ceremony or marketing the restaurant, and Carol His Lim is not involved with either restaurant. But Lim said the projects share her philosophical and operational DNA. As with the opening ceremony, Leon oversees every aspect of the restaurant, from food and decor to takeout packaging and napkins.
“We have a theory that there is no waste in building a brand,” Leon says.
After he opened his first restaurant, Chifa, Leon said people who had never set foot in a restaurant are buying goods online. It was based solely on the strength of the brand’s identity and aesthetics.
Ricky Engelberg, CMO of VistaPrint, says working with Leon has broadened the concept of what VistaPrint can offer small businesses. In the past, we mainly offered paper products such as business cards and labels, but in 2022 we also offer clothing, bags and household items.