In 2005, Chris Julian was double-majoring in business and medicine at UNLV while running two clothing companies when he decided to ditch the conventional methods of education to chase his newly forming dream. The Bishop Gorman graduate and his business partner, Samantha Jo Alonso, gathered the last of their money to open a clothing store that showcased archival and artisanal one-offs from different eras of street-wear culture.
They called it Fruition, and it quickly struck a nerve with the community by fulfilling a growing demand for “archival classics and timeworn goods” as well as familiarizing its customers with the cultural relevance of each garment.
“I knew that we had to magnify our responsibility to the community by making sure that we’re teaching them not only about the music and the product of our culture, but who we are as people,” the 30-year-old says.
As a result, rather than importing ideas from places like New York or Japan, Julian became a fashion visionary and business innovator who has given Las Vegas something to call its own. And he’s done it in a flailing economy. It helped that he saw the allure of vintage threads long before today’s hipster scene rocked deadstock sneakers and snapback hats. Unique pieces, including vintage Chanel shades, Jeremy Scott sweaters and satin Starter jackets, could only be found at Fruition (4139 S. Maryland Parkway, 796-4139).
The inimitable attire caught the eye of fashion-forward rapper/producer Kanye West in January 2006. “He understood the parallels between my curation of archival fashion pieces relative to his selection of archival beats,” Julian says. The two formed a bond that has seen Julian assist with the creative vision of West’s now-defunct Pastelle line and the DW element of the Kanye West line.
Today, Julian is a cultural mover and shaker at the local and national levels. He has assisted in bringing boutiques Stussy, Monogram and UNDFTD to the Las Vegas Valley as a consultant, and he has formed acquaintances with everyone from Lupe Fiasco to American Apparel CEO Dov Charney. In December, Julian joined forces with LeBron James to launch the high-profile boutique UNKNWN in Miami’s Aventura Mall. This year Julian hopes to further his cultural reach by bringing the boutique experience to the Web. “When it comes to real retail, the only thing that people are coming for is service. We’re trying to bring that service into the Web and technology,” he says. “We’re creating more ways to make it a more intimate experience.”
While others may see Las Vegas as a city with a glass ceiling as far as fashion culture is concerned, Julian views it as fertile ground with limitless untapped cultural potential that extends further than gambling and tourism.
“I’m fixated on Las Vegas because there is so much room for growth,” Julian says of why he’ll never leave. “It’s really about me remaining loyal to the city and to the community that helped my business and believed in me. Las Vegas is who I am.”