Things V Love: The House Of Bijan

Things V Love: The House Of Bijan

Things V Love: The House Of Bijan

How the heir of a famed fashion empire is carrying on his father’s legacy while paving his own.

How the heir of a famed fashion empire is carrying on his father’s legacy while paving his own.

Text: Kevin Ponce

Dubbed the “costliest menswear brand in the world,” the House of Bijan is a familiar name for many luxury lovers across the globe. With clients such as Barack Obama, George Bush, Tom Cruise, and the Shah of Iran (just to name a few!), it's no wonder why the beloved fashion house has remained a go-to label for the world's elite. After the renowned “by appointment, only” Rodeo Drive flagship store opened its doors back in 1976, the brand quickly took the fashion industry and world by storm with their ultra-luxe designs, captivating fragrances, provocative campaigns, and the mastermind behind it all: Bijan Pakzad.

Born in Tehran, Iran, Bijan was no stranger to the global boutique craze, having opened his very first shop in Tehran. Looking to expand out west, he immigrated to America in 1973 and landed upon the city of angels. "[My father] came here in the early seventies because he knew that America was really the key to his success and I know it sounds cliche but really it was the land of opportunity for him," says Nicolas Bijan, the son, and heir of Bijan who now takes reign of directorship for the beloved label. He continues saying "[During] that time period, he came to America and he saw a lot of people with a lot of money and very bad taste, so he thought 'This is a great opportunity for me to show them what to wear and sell them my clothes!'".

Courtesy of Bijan

Although establishing his name and legacy in the states, Bijan was never one to shy away from embracing one's culture—celebrating and incorporating his Iranian heritage in nearly every facet of the company, down to the pattern of a limited edition Bijan Rolls Royce, as Nicolas states "When my father first did the partnership with Rolls Royce, they asked him to design 30 limited edition cars and he wanted to put inside the hood of the car a tone-on-tone, discreet paisley pattern, and that paisley pattern is actually very much part of his heritage and Iranian roots."

Since the beginning of the brand, Bijan has set an example of how staying true to his culture helped set the company apart from competitors, as Nicolas explains "I think it's definitely an undeniable part of our brand. A lot of people who immigrated to the United States from all the different countries were 'Americanizing' their identities—changing their names maybe to sound more American or doing different things to assimilate and fit in, and my father did the exact opposite. He took his very foreign-sounding name and not only did he start his company [from] it, but he also plastered it across billboards and put his big smiling face out there. He was very proud of his heritage and that showed through not only the company that he founded but also through his work over 38 years. There was always some pride of where he came from."

Michael Jordan & Bijan Pakzad // Courtesy of Bijan

Differentiating Bijan apart from other menswear labels out there was fairly easy, thanks to the creativity of Bijan and his iconic campaign imagery (think Michael Joran puffing cigars with Bijan, Botero-inspired portraits, nuns riding shot-gun in a Rolls Royce, and Bijan perfume showers!) as Nicolas says "When I was working with my father as a teenager, I would oftentimes think like 'Oh my God—this is crazy! Why would he do something like that? Why would he choose that color? Why would he want to do an advertisement like that?' And now I understand in hindsight that his constant opposition to what is considered a good idea or the status quo, or his unwillingness to conform, is what really allowed him to be successful. I mean, you have to imagine in 1976, when my father said, 'I'm going to open the most expensive, highest quality and most exclusive store in the world, and you cannot come in because we're by appointment only, people were like, 'what the hell is this guy talking about?'"

That understanding, which took years in the making, is what is helping Nicolas bring the House of Bijan to the forefront of men's fashion again. Growing up, Nicolas was taught the many philosophies of his father, unknowingly preparing him to take his place, as he says "One of the most important things that he always taught me was quality and not making things in a cheap way. We wanted to focus on creating things by hand with the best quality, raw materials, and very exclusive with only one or two made. Our clients and the people who purchase Bijan very rarely need anything. These people are very smart and in order for them to pay the prices that they're paying, there needs to be quality there. It's a very important lesson that he always taught me, but quality alone is not the only distinctive factor in making our brand a success. There's a whole ecosystem that goes into creating a successful brand and that was what my father did very well. He had a great quote: 'The world said conform, the world said settle for less, the world said compromise and no one will know... so... I made my own world!'".

Courtesy of Bijan

Quality, design, and exclusivity is the main driving force for the brand, which specializes in producing menswear, fragrances, and jewelry. Perfumes, which have become a star feature of the Bijan brand, have always a product that the company holds close to its heart, having collaborated with some of the world's most notable figures. "[It takes] courage to have a really provocative perfume advertisement and say 'I'm going to make a celebrity cologne when nobody else is doing it and we're going to do it with Michael Jordan! Fragrances are still a very big part of our business, but at its height, our fragrance company was a beautiful, creative company and I have a craving for that—I want that again and I want to bring new fragrances that stand for the same DNA." says Nicolas.

Aside from wild campaign imagery and a flair for extravagance, the House of Bijan truly stands the test of fashion time—never truly divulging into a trend and focusing on classic and quality pieces that will last a lifetime, with a bit of a Bijan twist, as Nicolas explains "I think some of the most interesting pieces that we've made really do blend those [trendy vs classic]  lines. [Our clients] want something that is not only unique, but they want something that's really a piece of art. My father used to call it 'wearable art' and we've always tried to use different materials, cuts, details, and finishings that other designers would never dare to spend the money on. The amount of detail that goes into these [pieces] is so incredible that it really looks like art and when a customer comes and sees it, he sees all the details and how we spent so much time thinking about [everything]. That's where we really set ourselves apart—we treat every single piece as art."

Courtesy of Bijan

Bringing the knowledge, skills, and taste for high-quality, Nicolas is ensuring the ongoing appeal of Bijan while preparing the brand's devoted clientele for a new digital era of the house, saying "For 40+ years, we've been very traditional in our business model and while that's been fantastic and it's served us well, I think that our brand is something that has a lot of recognition internationally. So for 2021, I want to really focus on bringing this super experiential and beautiful experience that you see in our store onto the website. I don't see why we can't have more luxury online. [It's about] that new age of luxury and quality, [while] still staying true to our brand DNA, but allowing people from around the world to shop at their leisure."

As Nicolas Bijan ushers in the new era for the house, it is certain that he will help the next generation become dapper gentlemen while taking a walk on the yellow brick (Bijan!) road.

Discover the House of Bijan here!

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