For a lot of men, shopping is a necessary evil: they want to look good, but don’t want to spend too much time actually selecting good-looking clothes. Often, the clothing available is less-than-inspiring, connoting “over-grown fraternity boy” rather than “stylish man of the world.”
Yazid Aksas stumbled into this problem again and again, unable to find a dress shirt that transferred from day-to-night, that held up under a sport coat and didn’t leave him looking like he just rolled out of bed. So he did what any entrepreneurial young man would do. He decided to make his own shirts, and thus, Aksel Paris was born.Aksas combined a European design aesthetic, thoughtful details, a fool-proof sizing system (be sure to find your right Digit) and the ease internet shopping to conquer frumpy dress shirts everywhere. I’ll let Yazid take it from here.
Q. You mentioned on the site that you were unable to find a suitable shirt. What were you looking for that finally prompted you to make your own?
A. Most of the shirts on the market are not adapted to current trends. For example, everybody still looks at the neck size as a primary measurement for shirts, but this is totally irrelevant given that most of the guys don’t wear ties anymore. What really matters is the fit, and the fit depends mostly on weight, body shape and height. If you look at the Aksel site, that’s what we ask for when people decide which size to pick: height and weight.
Also, I was very frustrated by most of the collars of the shirts on the market; they sink under your jacket when you wear them without a tie. Again, that’s because most of the brands out there don’t embrace the modern man. Our collars are two-times higher that typical shirt collars out there. We have solved what we call is the Floppy Collar Syndrome.
A. The site also lays claim to the “best shirts available in America.” That’s a pretty bold statement…
Q. For all the reasons above, we mean it. We think we have the best shirt on the market for the price and quality. We design shirts for the 21st century. It’s not the old days, life is very different today. For example, guys today would wear the same shirt to go to work that they would wear out on weekends; they will just un-tuck it. The problem is no other brands thinks about this, and you end up with a bathrobe look. Our shirts have been designed to look great tucked-in and un-tucked.
Q. I think it’s fabulous, but American men are notoriously skittish about any article of clothing prefaced by “European.” “European” also tends to connote “expensive” or “very, very trendy.” What is it about Aksel that makes it so accessible to guys who want to look good, but who maybe aren’t that into fashion?
A. That’s the key for us. Because we sell online and directly to our customers, we’re able to get them the European quality and style at a very reasonable price, around $100 a shirt. They would normally cost closer to $200 in a department store. They also get free shipping and returns.
When we create a line, we have in mind the different personas of our customers: the Rockstar, Office 2.0, Multitalented or weekend Player. Depending your personality, we offer different styles. We want every man to look great in AKSEL, no matter if they are fashionable or not. A lot of them get compliments on their shirts, where they never ever got any compliments before. I get emails all the time from our customers about that, and that’s what makes us think we are going in the right direction.
Q. Espadrilles can be a tough sell for some guys, but you can’t argue with a shoe that claims Bogie, Dali, JFK and George Harrison as part of its fan club. That is an excellent little piece of advertising, what was the idea behind that?
A. That’s true; we were a little bit hesitant to introduce espadrilles in the US at first. It was really weird that they’ve been so popular in Europe for decades, and yet you can hardly find them anywhere here. Espadrilles are so great, they are comfortable, you can wear them with anything and anywhere, you can pack them for any trip, so there is really no reason why American guys would not say yes. We decided to go for it when we saw a store selling them for $300 in LA. Ours are between $39 and $49 and they are made in France. We’ve sold a ton since we launched them, so I guess we can thank JFK & Co!
So there you have it: European quality and style made for the American man. Check out the whole Aksel Paris line at www.akselparis.com.