SATURDAY, OCTOBER 5, 2013
DUFFLE BAG BOY: Q&A WITH FIRST & CO. FOUNDER CHARLES TRUONG
We had the chance to sit down for some back and forth with Charles Truong, the founder of Los Angeles - based luxury travel accessory company First & Co. to talk about how the company started, inspiration and the method behind these high quality pieces. Here's how it went:
What is behind the name 'First & Company'?
We have been around for more then six years. What started out as just, FIRST, is now FIRST & COMPANY. Our FIRST endeavor was in mens wear. We had a few season of really dramatic mens leather pieces, an irish linen cruise line supported by a really sleek lora piana cashmere collection. The name FIRST came from the most primatial sense of the word: The will to win. In the short version, it is what makes you move. What motivates and gets you on your feet and on the hustle. In our early years, the name really reflected the desire, dedication and hunger we had to succeed. Not that any of that has changed, its just now we have become a more well rounded company with visions of lifetime achievements, hence the reason why we now refer to ourselves as FIRST& COMPANY.
When did you discover a passion for menswear/accessories?
Every since I can remember I have had an interest for stylish people in general. The passion didn't come until I discovered that I too could be one of those stylish people I always looked at in admiration. I have always thought that a truly fashionable man always had sensible and stylish accessories because any man can put on a suit, but the details always seem to set the men apart from one another. Its a great way to express one personality through a dress code.
What made you decide on men's traveling accessories?
We started out in menswear and that has always been a passion of ours. It's what got us started in this business and we have every intention to revisit that again very soon. The accessories have always been an interest of mine. I never understood why it was ok for women to carry clutches but it wasn't ok for a grown man to sport one around. For some reason, Americans have this notion that if you carried a "MURSUE" or a "MANBAG" around that you were gay or very metro. When in fact, IMO, a piece like this is very useful and not to mention very elegant when worn with confidence. Our products provide that kind of feeling and often refer to our products as being, "very european".
The collection you designed for Quang Le is pretty unique. Did he reach out to you to commission it? How involved was he with the design?
Quang has been a friend of ours from the start. We have become great friends over the years and when the collaboration came about, he was all in. We wanted to do an artist series and we called up QLe to get his opinion. When we finally sat down and spoke about ideas, the camera case came up because we had a similar looking one in our offices that we created just for a sample. It was a much larger one that you could pack a whole weeks worth of articles in and it look more like a steamer trunk then a camera case. However, Quang being the eccentric guy that he is choose this aesthetic for this collaboration. He was very involved from start to finish as we pride ourselves on detail.
The camera case was not an easy task, however we told him that if he could dream it we could build it. The rest was history.
Who is First and Company?
First and Company is comprised of like-minded and talented individuals all sharing the same vision. Our key players are:
Charles Truong – Founder
Chris Thompson – Designer
Jenifer Toby – PR/Sales
Andy Vu – In-house Photographer and Videographer
Jimmy Nguyen – Operations
Who's your target audience?
People like you. People like us. We are the market. Men and women who are very comfortable in their own skin. The thinkers of society. The movers of the makers. They are all the same person. ~ POWER PLAYERS ~
Where are your materials sourced from?
Mostly from Italy but we do source from all over the world depending on application. The world is our oyster.
From where do you draw inspirations?
Everywhere... Like how artist see visions in everyday life, we see design inspiration everywhere. One of the reason why we also chose FIRST for the company is because the name in itself is very broad. It can be used through the whole spectrum of influences. One of the worst things a new company can do is limited themselves by a name. Many times resulting in being pigeon hold into one style/genre. As i said the world is our oyster.
Are there any plans to expand into clothing or other accessories?
Yes! As cliche as it may sound, we are a lifestyle company. We are just taking our time to build this brand out right! Rest assured there is much more to come!
What is your long-term vision for the company/brand?
To become a house hold name by having many facets of the brand to reach as many people as possible. This is a very long and extensive question that can take us forever to answer, but the short version would be: FIRST & COMPANY is a global trading brand. Be as it a financial company and/or a textile company, there is no area of business we will not consider as long as it make sense for our brand. Like LVMH ~ we strive to be a powerhouse in the industry as well as many other industries. The key to any companies success is to have a healthy balance sheet and what better way to do that then to have multiple streams of opportunities.
Where can our readers find more First & Company?
You can find First and Company on our site at www.FirstandCompany.com or on our instagram at @FirstandCompany.