Audigier designer of Ed Hardy brand ...
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ED HARDY, the Story
His unmistakable trademark and charismatic personality make Christian Audigier the man of the moment. But who is this crazy and eccentric French man known as, Le Vif, (the fast one). Christian, in just about two years, has succeeded in taking the fashion industry by storm and making Ed Hardy a household name. This has ultimately led him to becoming the king of the designer T-shirt. He first received national recognition when he put Von Dutch Originals on the map by using the idea of pinstripe designs, which he developed into an international brand. You could not go anywhere without seeing a T-Shirt or trucker hat worn by celebrities or college kids on the streets of LA, Miami, New York or Paris. His association to Von Dutch lasted a little over 3 years before Audigier, true to his passion for cars and motorcycles, decided to start his own company once he was granted the exclusive rights to work with the designs of tattoo artist Don Ed Hardy. Oddly enough, he repeated his incredible success with the tattoo designs of Don Ed Hardy, the godfather of tattoo. From Britney Spears, who was his very first celebrity client, to Ashton Kutchner, Paris Hilton, Hilary Duff and Justin Timberlake, just to name a few. Christian has created a virtual who’s who of celebrity hipsters wearing, the trucker hats, the jeans and the now infamous Ed Hardy T-shirt.
Audigier, a native from Avignon, France, has an impressive list of credits and accomplishments under his belt. His career started in his early teens when he was discovered by one of the top executives at MacKeen Jeans. Christian had already created a denim collection, greatly influenced by Rock n’ Roll. “My favorite group was the Rolling Stones. It was natural for me to design cool clothes”, says Christian. Although under age, he joined MacKeen shortly thereafter and became a major force in the company. During that time, he traveled all over the globe from Tokyo to Paris to New York, where he was blown away by that incredible city and its grandeur. “I remember thinking to myself, I need to come here and start my own company.” No more than 3 years later, Christian moved to New York, formed his own company and freelanced for the biggest names of the denim industry: Guess, American Outfitters, Fiorucci, Bisou Bisou, Levi’s, XOXO and revamped the Diesel brand. He created a name for himself and became “the King of Jeans”.
One cold winter day, while watching a television program on Bali, Christian decided to move there. While still working in denim, he experimented with jersey, and other materials. After living in Bali for a few years, he returned to the States, this time to Los Angeles, the Entertainment Capitol of the world. “LA seemed to be the next step for me. The weather was great, I had lots of friends and clients living there, and denim was always fashionable”.
It was in 2002 when Audigier met Tonny Sorensen who had just acquired the rights to the name ‘Von Dutch’, the legendary pin striper and auto mechanic and was contemplating developing a film from it. In talking with Tonny, Christian had a vision; why not a fashion label? A clothing line. Using his savvy knowledge of the industry and his marketing genius, mixed with his amazing ability to create jeans that fly off shelves, Audigier convinced Sorensen to change his mind, and the rest is history.
We recently met with Christian and asked about his phenomenal career.
Please tell us about the foundation of your success and what it takes.
CA: It’s hard to say. I think that in a way I have been very lucky. I was there when I needed to be. I knew the business, I was a designer by trade, I love people and marketing is my second nature. It comes naturally to me.
How did you approach Von Dutch and its heir?
CA: I did not approach them they approached me. As far as Don Ed Hardy is concerned, he was someone that I admired and that I wanted to work with. We met, we liked each other and we decided to do business together. After all, it is a 2 way street. I make him famous and he makes money with me and everyone is happy.
What made you leave Von Dutch for a new project?
CA: The Godfather of Tattoo. Also, it was time and I wanted to have my own company.
Why Ed Hardy?
CA: Why not? He is the best and I wanted to work with a legend.
How did this decision affect your life and your business?
CA: I love my life. It is exactly how I want to live it. The success that I know right now only adds to it. I am a pretty positive guy. I just love life… I never make it so complicated. I love to have fun and to have a good time with whatever it is that I am doing. I surround myself with the same kind of people. I have many other projects in the works. I love to be busy…
What makes tattoo art so special? And why were you specifically attracted to tattoos?
CA: It is very special because in a way you are committing your skin to it. What I mean by that is; that whatever you decide to put on any part of your body is there to stay and removing it is very hard so it is a major commitment. And that is very special in itself. The art is vivid, clear and personal. It has meaning.
Although tattoo art is very expensive, in many instances, it is perceived to be for Harley drivers and bar lovers: What are your thoughts and how can you change the perception?
AC: True, however tattooing has been a trend and a fashion for quite sometime now. It started when Rock n’Rollers rode their motorcycles and borrowed the art form from the Hells Angels in the sixties. They started the tattoo trend. Nowadays you have tattoo parlors everywhere and it is chic to have a tattoo. It is not soly reserved to guys and Rock n’ Rollers, girls have them also, small, big, etc… So, I do not have to try to change the perception. It was changed a long time ago. I fit in the context of fashion. To place a tattoo design on a shirt certainly does not nearly hurt as much as on skin. It is just fun… Tattoos are beautiful.
And what makes celebrities and designer stores such as Nordstrom, crazy over this fashion?
AC: It’s not Nordstrom or Macy’s that dictates fashion. It is the people. They are the ones to create the demand and therefore the department stores carry what they want to buy. You have to watch the people in the streets, see what they like to wear, and then you can create what they will be attracted to and what they will buy. The Stars are greatly responsible for promoting a product, but they are people and there again, if it’s fun or beautiful or interesting, they will wear it. It’s got to be hip and comfortable.
Why couldn’t Hardy realize the success you have attained through his name and art?
AC: I do not know. You would have to ask him. But I imagine that not being in the fashion industry and not having a full staff behind you may be the reason. Plus, it simply is not his business. You always need to have associates in life. It is practically impossible to do anything by yourself. We just clicked…
Since the infamous trucker hats, he has designed T-shirts, Jeans, Jackets, Bags, Shoes, Furniture, Motorcycles, etc. Christian’s future endeavors seem to be endless. Audigier’s ability to set trends is quite remarkable. He has become the most wanted brand of casual wear around the world. He has licensed the Ed Hardy name out to bottled water and apple-flavored energy drinks, shoes, belts, pooch bag, etc. His fashions are sold in over 3000 stores in the world along with his own signature stores in LA, New-York, Tucson, and soon to open Miami and Paris. His company has exploded in its first year earning $15 million and he projects it will earn $50 million this year. Price points range from $55 to $500 for a leather jacket.
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