Designer Interview

By: FashWire
Mar 17, 2023 12:10 PM

What was your previous work experience before launching your brand?

I was in retail banking management for about 15 years.


When did you know you wanted to create your brand?

The idea came together a few years ago. My mom had been selling cashmere scarves to her local network as a side gig. I knew I could help scale the business, and after meeting some artists at social events in East Hampton, the concept of putting contemporary art onto lightweight cashmere seemed like a great prospect.


“That passion is what drives me to want to get a quality product created and marketed.”


Do you have a favorite piece designed in your shop? 

My favorite pieces are from my artists’ collections. I didn’t design them but working with these artists to bring their creations to life is fulfilling.


What is your favorite part about designing?

Fabrication is my favorite part. The designs themselves are created by the artists but being able to bring them a finished product in our lightweight cashmere always brings me joy. Cashmere is such a beautiful material.


Where do you find inspiration?

The artists give me inspiration. We collaborate on design selection, and they often have a couple of pieces that they are truly passionate about. That passion is what drives me to want to get a quality product created and marketed.


What sets your brand apart from the rest?

Our collaborations with contemporary artists are our differentiator. There are no other scarf designs like these on the market.


What do you envision for the future of your brand?

New retail spaces for sure. I think the retail experience is still so enjoyable and being able to touch and feel what you are buying is fun.


What is your favorite current fashion trend? What is your least favorite?

My favorite is pearls on men. My least favorite is drop-crotch trousers.


Do you find it difficult to have a brand based in East Hampton, New York? What are the perks versus the challenges?

It’s a great market for our price point and we find that our East Hampton customers value our uniqueness. Having something that nobody else has is important to our customers out there. The challenge is the seasonality, we really only operate our physical store from Memorial Day to Labor Day. You have to make those sales to cover your entire year.


“For designers, it may not be fun or what comes naturally, but you have to dedicate time and resources to the business side of fashion.”


How important is social media to your brand?

Extremely! We leverage social media not only to promote our products but since we do so many trunk shows, it is a way for our clients to be aware of where they can find us from week to week. We are also very collaborative, so through social media partnerships we are able to grow our network and prospect base.


How would you define fashion?

Fashion is an expression of self. It’s the designer’s expression of their creative inspiration. For a buyer, it’s the expression of how they’d like to present themselves.


How has the fashion industry changed since you first started out?

I think the fundamentals remain the same, however, everything is faster. You still go through the normal fashion cycle, but everything is compressed. We have more sales and marketing channels than ever and determining what works or doesn’t work happens in real-time.


What is the one piece of advice you would give to a new designer?

Make sure you understand enough about the business to be successful. Fundamentals of accounting, marketing, fulfillment, operations, etc. are critical to becoming profitable. For designers, it may not be fun or what comes naturally, but you have to dedicate time and resources to the business side of fashion.


If you could go back and tell yourself one thing before beginning your career, what would it be? 

Do your homework. Early on, it is natural to try to jump into every business opportunity presented. You really evaluate the potential return and fully understand costs before you jump in. There are definitely several ventures that ended up costing a significant amount of time and money that didn’t pan out, and the warning signs were there up front.


What should consumers expect to see next from James Paul Cheung?

In 2023, we plan to have a steady stream of new artists coming on board.  We are already in production with three new artists, with merchandise arriving for the start of Q2. Additionally, we are planning several new collaborative events in-store with curated partners.