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Paul Aarrington Denim Studio

by Kenyatta D. Pious

We first introduced our readers to Paul Aarrington in 2006 (see: 2006 Article). What caught our eye about Paul Aarrington in 2006 was his use of minimalism to achieve complex looks for the man who enjoyed to dress up. We caught up with the busy designer after his spring 2011 Fashion Week show, which showcased Aarrington's foray into denim (a smart choice, we think!) This go-round we discuss the changes in his company, how the brand competes in the market as well as Aarrington's design process for both of his brands: Paul Aarrington Denim Studio and Paul Aarrington New York.

Tell us a little bit about the genesis of your company.
Well, to begin the thought of turning Paul Aarrington into a lifestyle brand came from situation at a job I used to work. What occurred was a friend of mine used to make fun of my name and said Paul Aarrington Menswear so I paused and thought that sounds good to me! Knowing nothing about making a garment other than putting on my clothes like everyone else, I set out to learn the industry and become that designer! I went to what we would call the school of hard knocks. I didn't have any formal schooling for fashion design. I just knew what I wanted to do and the passion I felt for it and bringing ideas to life. There were many days I wondered if I was cut out for this. But continued to pursue it. What gave me my first spark of confidence was when my dad came up with the idea to sell a garment that I had been working on at his job. I worked on a fleece pull over jacket and my dad suggested that I customize it for the people at his job. I did it and they loved it. I sold many of these through out the winter to the drivers at his job. From that moment on I knew I could make this dream a reality.

Who is your ideal customer and why?
My ideal customer would be the modern executive. The modern day executive no longer carries the perception of an older gentleman with a suit and tie. He now has the look of a young savvy entrepreneur in jeans and a button front shirt. This exemplifies our lifestyle. The look of expressing yourself while carrying the confidence of someone with great responsibilities and vision.

What celebrity would you say exemplifies your style and why?
Well, I can�t give you just one. If I had to say it would be Will Smith and Kanye West. I say Will Smith because of his confidence and style. Kanye West would also be relevant in the sense that he is not afraid to push the envelope with his style of dress. He can wear the button down shirt with the real technical looking jeans and some patent leather type sneakers. They both exemplify our style in their own right.

What was the inspiration for your newest collection?
The inspiration for my newest collection is a combination of sources. I looked [at the European lifestyle] because of the European's willingness to push the envelope in terms of men's fashion. Their use of style lines, fabrics and coatings amaze me. The other source is music. Yes, music. It seems so simplistic but music can transport me to any place or time period. Music is able to recreate the feeling of a particular lifestyle whether I've been there to experience it or not.

Give us three words that best describe the brand.
Stylish, Sophisticated and Modern.

We understand that the brand has recently restructured - how?
The restructuring has mostly occurred internally but as far as visually, we given it a more mature sophisticated look. By sophisticated I mean wash looks that can be worn from work to lounge without a change in your wardrobe. I have given it a more modern feel with the fabrics, style lines and coatings. I've matured in my profession and my collection reflects that level of growth in my ideas.

How do you remain competitive in this market?
I try to remain competitive by finding that niche. In this case our niche will be price points. We want to give you a work of art without the high cost our industry has come to see. There are many people that love the super premium brands designs but can not afford them.

What do you never leave your house without?
This may sound simplistic but a watch. A watch to me completes the look of an outfit.

What advice did you get that has resonated as being prophetic?
The one piece of advice I received earlier on in my career that I really didn't understand until I got older and a little more mature spiritually [was the statement]: that I was good at the things I do but will become better once I get out of my own way. By that the person meant that I should not put hurdles of failure in my own way with my thoughts and actions. I had to change my thinking of doubt into an unwavering thought of knowing. Once I made that change in my thinking a spirituality things began to occur with less resistance.

Say a little bit about how you approach designing.
My approach to designing is fairly simplistic. Of course I survey what other companies are doing my main ritual is sitting down in front of my computer and putting on some music. Through music I can take myself to a place where a particular feeling and lifestyle resides. Music gives me energy which translates into feelings and ideas.

What designers do you attend during New York Fashion Week?
I honestly haven't attended many shows in person but I do watch them online. I look at designers such as G-Star Raw, Diesel, True Religion and many others.

What's next for your brand?
I think the next step for Paul Aarrington Denim Studio will be to continue its strategic product growth. We want to be able to offer the full gamut of products like hats to match the looks that we are offering. [We aim] to reach more retail establishments and expand our product line.

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