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Julian, Alexander

men’s award home fashion

B. February 8, 1948

Birthplace: Chapel Hill, North Carolina

Awards: Coty American Fashion Critics Award, 1977, 1979, 1980, 1983, 1984
         Cutty Sark Award 1980, 1985, 1988
         Cutty Sark Achievement Award, 1988
         Men’s Woolknit Design Award, 1981
         Council of Fashion Designers of America Award, 1982
         Major Collection, Pinnacle Design Achievement Award, 1998
         Forrest L. Dimmick Award for Excellence in Color Marketing, Color Marketing Group, 1998

Alexander Julian’s interest in fashion peaked at any early age. As a child he was intrigued by the fabric sample books in his father’s apparel store, the Clothing Cupboard, and he began designing fabrics, shirts, and jackets in his early adolescence. By sixteen, Julian was managing the Clothing Cupboard and attending trade shows with his father, where he received firsthand exposure to the apparel and retail industries. After high school, Julian enrolled at the University of North Carolina, where he majored in English since the university did not offer a major in design. In 1969, at the age of twenty-one, Julian struck out on his own and opened his own store, Alexander’s Ambition, in Chapel Hill, which he operated until 1975. In 1975 Julian decided to leave Chapel Hill for New York City, and he founded the Alexander Julian Company, showing his first collection that same year. The collection was well received, and two years later, Julian became the youngest designer to win the Coty American Fashion Critics Award.

Alexander Julian, a pioneer in men’s fashions, foresaw the shift to casual dressing that now dominates men’s business attire, and he was one of the first designers to introduce interchangeable separates for men, transforming business jackets into sports coats paired with dress shirts without ties. Perhaps even more revolutionary are the colors Julian has brought to men’s fashions. Julian broke from the traditional neutral color scheme that had always dominated men’s fashions to design with a rich palette when he introduced his moderately priced, aptly named, Colours line in 1981. The line revolutionized men’s dressing and immediately made Alexander Julian a household name. Over the next decade Julian expanded his business to add a women’s wear line in 1983, Colours by Alexander Julian for boys in 1984, Watercolors swimwear in 1984, Alexander Julian couture in 1988, and Coloursport in 1994.

In 1985 Julian made his first foray into designing for the home furnishings industry. Julian applied his artistic flair for combining colors and patterns in menswear designs to home furnishing designs. He adopted leather and tortoise shell buttons for draw pulls, converted argyles into veneer inlays, and transformed plaids into carpet and rug designs. His color and pattern combinations created unique room accents. Since entering the home furnishings market, Julian has signed licensing agreements for bedding, rugs, carpeting, lamps, mattresses, decorative art, wall coverings, paint, window treatments, laminate flooring, kitchen cabinets, countertops, decorative pillows, throws, lines of furniture, upholstery, and fabrics under the Alexander Julian Home Colours labels. Some of the most prestigious home furnishing manufacturers have forged relationships with Julian, including Universal Furniture, Lifestyles Furnishings, Dan River, Pillowtex, Couristan, Asia Minor, Robert Abbey, Spring Air, Capel, Soicher-Marin Fine Art, Lowe’s, Home Innovations, BenchCraft, Sunworthy, and Hampshire Mills. Julian’s home furnishing designs have become so popular that the sale of these products is virtually equal to the sale of his menswear products.

The three primary Alexander Julian labels—Colours by Alexander Julian, Coloursport, and Alexander Julian—are all produced through a series of licensing agreements currently held by Windsong, American Trouser, Inc., and Pincus Brothers Maxwell. Julian also licenses his name to Fashion Neckwear, Swank, William Barry, Host Apparel, Pico Manufacturing Sales Corporation, Shalom and Company, Paul Lavitt Mills, Mallory and Church Corporation, Lifeguard Apparel, Paul Sebastian, J. Pietrfesa, Mel Howard Accessories, Marchon/Marcolin Eyewear, Leshner, and others for a variety of apparel-related products. Julian’s name currently appears on such products as neckwear, belts, small leather goods, men’s and boy’s outerwear, robes and pajamas, men’s and boy’s underwear, headwear, gloves, handkerchiefs, men’s hosiery, men’s and women’s fragrances, formal-wear accessories, eyewear, luggage, and towels.

Alexander Julian is known for creating timeless, affordable designs for real life. His brings a unique color and pattern aesthetic to casual, comfortable clothing for men. Julian has over twenty active licensees covering such a diverse range of products that one observer noted that, “If Alexander Julian could design the air, he would” (Orenstein, p. 28). Despite his success, Julian still maintains an active relationship with his hometown of Chapel Hill and the state of North Carolina. He designed the uniforms for the Charlotte Hornets basketball team in 1988, designed the stadium seating for the Charlotte Knights baseball team in 1990, and designed uniforms for University of North Carolina Tar Heels basketball team. He comanages Julian’s College Shop (formerly the Clothing Cupboard) with his sister Missy.

Julian, Hubert(1987–1983) - Pilot, parachutist, The Aviator, The Parachutist, Joins Ethiopian Air Force, Chronology, Becomes Munitions Dealer [next] [back] Julavits, Heidi - Author, Career, Sidelights, Selected writings

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