I met Julien Archer when he was only sixteen, in his hometown of Richmond, Virginia. I was leading a workshop at the Visual Arts Center there. He was a creative and enterprising sophomore in high school who had already started a screen-printing business (and had designed shirts for the venue where we were holding the event). A few years later, I was reintroduced to Julien at our first Makeshift event in New York City. He was living there at the time and expressed that he was ready for a change. So, I laughingly replied, “Move to Alabama!”
The two of us kept in touch and, several months later, he attended a Studio Weekend workshop at The Factory with his mother (and sometimes Alabama Chanin Trunk Show hostess). During that weekend, I had dinner with the two of them and offered Julien a three-month apprenticeship here in Alabama. Surprisingly, he accepted and – two years later – he is still here. A prolific member of our design team, he also works as a pattern maker and helps manage operations at Building 14.
Julien was raised in an artistic home. His father is a painter and Julien grew up surrounded by paintings, books, models in the studio, and still life objects. His mother taught him to sew by machine early on. This childhood immersion helped shape his sense of color and shape, and his artistic point-of-view. He credits his parents with encouraging him and his brothers to discover what they are truly passionate about and run with it.
He has an enthusiasm for learning that is inspiring and he is always looking to try new ways of doing things. As a young designer, he has a definitive point of view that suggests confidence and openness. His desire to learn is one of his greatest assets and will serve him well as he sets out on his own. Julien says, “Working at Alabama Chanin has taught me the importance of community, communication, and organization. I have enjoyed watching an idea – like Building 14 – take shape and grow.”
We are both selfishly sad and extremely proud that Julien will be setting off on his newest adventure in the next few months. Even as he has worked at The Factory, he has continued to work on his own projects and hopes to devote more time to those pursuits. Right now, his plan is to travel for a while; then he hopes to find a bespoke tailor to apprentice under. It will be a bittersweet departure, but we cannot wait to see what Julien has in store for the world – and look forward to a continued partnership.
Julien Archer – part of the heart and soul of Alabama Chanin.