Upper Marlboro, Maryland- the elegant men’s wear boutique, owned by two renaissance African men , held their grand opening on September 4th.
Fashion designers and founders of Connaisseur Paris, Julius Ade and Alain Chaps, are business men whose story proves that success can be achieved if you power through, especially being African immigrants in the diaspora.
This new location of Connaisseur Paris would count as the fifth store location in the United States with their headquarters located in France.
The Cameroonian-born founders have been best friends since their time serving in the U.S Army, and turned business partners. The brand started as a form of necessity when they moved to the States and could hardly find elegant men’s wear at affordable prices.
“Dressing Black African men elegantly is very important,” says Julius Ade. “The nature of us being Black, means we are judged for many things. One thing we tell young people about how they carry themselves in society is to look good! You look good, people automatically believe you’re well put together and they will treat you with respect,” he adds on.
Mr. Alain Chaps describes their success being derived by pursuing something very attainable from the onset and meeting a need.
“In the U.S, we first started because we saw a gap where there was scarcity of elegant men’s fashion and when you did come across a fashion brand you loved, it was inaccessible due to the high price points.” Says Mr Chaps.
The business men and fashion designers distinguish their brand with its affordable price points, unique slim cut, smart and elegant style. The location strategy of the Connaisseur Paris boutiques point to their sense of business acumen as it provides shopping convenience for their esteemed clientele. Business professionals from the Black diaspora are their main customers, they’ve styled actors like Tyrese and have even provided styling to movie sets like Dynasty TV series.
“We really want to have a long term relationship with our customers. When you connect with us, we want to dress you for life! Our prices are good, we remain innovative and stay abreast of current fashion trends,” says Alain chaps
The name “Connaisseur” means someone who is an expert in fashion and loves beautiful things in life and the “Paris” is because we were influenced by European fashion growing up in Cameroon.
In addressing how the businessmen balance work and family, they both agreed they’ve achieved a balance by incorporating family with business such as traveling with their wives and kids while on business trips or for business events as a norm and part of their lifestyle.
The event had live performance from Adele-Clarice, a U.S-diaspora Cameroonian singer, piano and musical performance by the eight-year-old son of Julius Ade, and the food catered was west-African hors d'oeuvres' like meat-pies. Of course you can’t have a successful opening without popping bottles of champagne. The founders gave a remarkable speech as the audience toasted to their success.