Meet Hamid Vaghar & Fernanda Pinheiro of Giovanni Testi in Panorama City

Today we’d like to introduce you to Hamid Vaghar & Fernanda Pinheiro .

So, before we jump into specific questions about the business, why don’t you give us some details about you and your story.
Hamid: Our LA label came into existence in 2002 when my colleague Ivan and I, CFO and COO of a Beverly Hills women’s clothing concept, decided to partner up and take on a new venture into the men’s fashion word. My background is marketing and accounting and Ivan is a criminal lawyer by trade. We decided to start a menswear label that was fashion forward, but where our focus was also on quality, style and fit. We coupled that with using (what was at the time very new) natural and synthetic blend fabrics, and by bringing those elements together we found we were quickly able to build a reputation as a quality menswear brand in the wholesale circles.

We started exhibiting in MAGIC trade show Las Vegas that same year and haven’t missed one since. We always emphasize a strong focus on what’s happening with the latest trends in high fashion menswear, and presenting it in a way that’s more accessible for consumers while still maintaining a comparably high level of quality. We also exhibit at COBB Atlanta, Chicago Collective, Intermoda Mexico and Fashion World Tokyo.

Our Giovanni Testi brand started growing at such a fast pace, we found that operations just couldn’t be sustained by two people anymore. In 2004 my brother Max joined us and we employed Marie and Adan for office and warehouse help. Ivan left the Company in 2006 to pursue his law career again and today he’s a very successful professional in his field. Max and I continued with wholesale and we decided to branch out to retail as well. Somewhere along the way, we brought in our partner Guy, my youngest brother MJ, and then my better half Fernanda joined the party! Fifteen years after inception the brand now has over 700 active wholesale customers and 9 retail locations. Our brand’s flagship stores of “SuitFellas” and “Suit Smart” have been recognized as two of the finest stores in DTLA.

Fernanda: In the recent years Hamid and I have taken up the task of designing and overseeing the production process, and we attend most of the trade shows, while Max, Guy and MJ make sure of smooth operations with the help of our wonderful staff. Since building the brand, we’ve been excited to see Giovanni Testi has found popularity among fashion lovers all over the world. Many celebrities, musicians and popular TV shows have become devoted customers.

I have to say I take the job of designing very seriously; coming from a women’s fashion background, and having been involved with beauty pageants, fashion shows, and my own retail stores, I’ve always kept an eye on staying ahead of the curve on trends and style. I really believe in taking an approach that’s about forward-thinking design and that’s not afraid to take risks. There’s such a focus on upcoming trends in women's wear every season, but we can clearly see a void in the menswear space in this sense. So much of mainstream menswear that’s readily accessible is really utilitarian and monotone, but more and more we see men wanting to be expressive in their personal style while still balancing it in a way that’s functional. I think that by filling that void, it’s what has really allowed our brand to become successful.

Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
When we first started, people also weren’t looking online the same way and you didn’t have all this technology and reality TV and social media and fashion bloggers. So in that way, we can see how all that influence has carried over to consumers, and especially to men. They’re way more turned onto fashion and style and what’s happening there now.

What are your plans for the future? What are you looking forward to or planning for – any big changes?
We’re building on that momentum to become an even more recognizable brand. We’ve definitely come a long way since 2002 and we’re just excited to grow even more!

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