This is exciting! FIDM Grad Paul Hagopian has teamed up with FIDM Fashion Club for a series of designer blog posts! He's an American entrepreneur and designer who founded the men's denim line, Shade55—and he's so inspiring. Check it out...
A son of immigrants, and a strong believer in the American Dream, Paul shares his story of influencing factors that helped successfully shape his career as a designer and owner of Shade55.
Paul understood the true meaning of individual initiative by observing his two immigrant parents who fled political violence in Lebanon and came to America to start a new life. His lineage includes generations of tailors, including his dad, who worked with Paul's uncle at a clothing manufacturer. He eventually started a company called Cotton U.S.A. where Paul gained more experience.
Growing up watching his dad work in tailoring, Paul felt as though he was born with a “needle and thread in his hands.” He helped his dad in the factory, and as a young boy, assisted in customer service and the shipping department. From this, he gained more experience in the industry and became intrigued by the art of making clothing. He knew that a career in fashion was the path for him and decided then and there to pursue it at any cost.
When he became older, he attended FIDM and took a two-year program in apparel manufacturing. At FIDM he learned the academic skills he needed to combine with his hands-on industrial experience to launch a career in fashion design. He took a job at Joe’s Jeans, where he learned that he could combine the influence and teachings his dad gave to him and apply them to a different type of denim business.
During the height of the recession, Paul decided to move from Joe’s Jeans to start Shade55. His inspiration came from a desire to put Americans back to work and create jobs here by basing the entire manufacturing process within the U.S. He uses no imported goods, nor does he ship any work overseas, like so many other companies do. Paul knew it was fundamental to his moral fiber to “keep denim here,” and keep Shade55 American!
Thus the foundation for Shade55 was made, and Paul continued his hands-on, quality-driven, non-corporate approach to managing a denim company. He realized that women had always been the primary focus of fashion, with a de-emphasis on men, and he wanted to reverse that with Shade55. He believed that men needed their own identity, and that denim was the staple of American men, from cowboys to urban professionals.
Shade55 is available in stores across the country. The line’s success has its roots in Paul’s experience growing up observing the apparel industry first hand, to gaining academic experience at FIDM, and combining the knowledge to create an original, unique men’s denim line that celebrates American craftsmanship!
Stay tuned for more!