Happy Vibes
    Category: Forbes Life By : Yessar Rosendar Read : 1164 Date : Tuesday, August 11, 2015 - 21:12:25

    Bismo Agung for Forbes Indonesia

    Bali-based American fashion designer Paul Ropp, 71, is unconventional in his life and business. In his youth, he roamed the streets of Brooklyn with musicians and hipsters, and even contributed to the antiwar protest of the time by producing star and stripes cigarette rolling papers.

    He then moved to India where he began creating prints and tie-dye for seven years, before moving to Bali in 1978 and later establishing PT Tomorrow’s Antiques Indonesia, which he says is the second-oldest foreign investment company in Bali and which is the base for his eponymous brand. “I love the work I’m doing, the challenge of it, I like the creative part of it,” Paul says.

    Originally his brand was a back burner for Paul, as he thought he could make more money producing apparels for numerous international fashion brands where he made millions of apparels every month, however he grew tired of it. “I didn’t want to do what they want, I want to do what I want, so I focused my energy and money into developing the Paul Ropp brand,” Paul says.

    The brand has been on the covers of numerous international fashion publications and his apparel has been sold in stores such as Henry Lehr in New York, Fred Segal in Los Angeles and several boutiques and department stores throughout the world. Several celebrities also have worn his wardrobes such as Carlos Santana. Paul is catering to the premium market as an average price of his apparel can reach $300 for a shirt, some selling for over $500. “Our client is rich, well educated, and well traveled,” says Paul, who went to the School of Art and Design at the Pratt Institute in New York.

    Currently the brand has been exported to 35 countries and has 29 store locations in Bali, Jakarta and Phuket. The brand offers clothing and accessories for men, women and children. Currently the largest contributor is women’s fashion, followed by the men department that was launched six years ago, and accessories. He reached his level of success without a salesperson or a catalog for more than 13 years.

    “We have done it through word of mouth, and we reach this level through a lot of determination and creativity,” Paul says. Recently the brand also has launched its Muslim collection and started to have more presence in Jakarta, after its fashion was sold at the Central Department Store in the Grand Indonesia mall. He would like to expand his brand further in Thailand with help from the Central group.

    The signature of the brand is its energetic colors and funky design, made to deliberately stimulate the senses and create a feeling of well-being and happiness. “When it comes to sun and fun, we want to be the number one company making products for people to play in, to go to a party, beach, other than to the office, we don’t make products for the office,” Paul says. He wants his clients to smile every time they enter his boutique. “We are less expensive than therapy,” Paul jokes.

    Paul creates his designs with inspiration from the four senses: sight, touch, scent, and sound. Using a mixture of color and texture, it evokes the four elements: fire, earth, water and forest. The products are made from hand woven cottons and silks, overstated with hand embroidery, beading and coloring methods. Paul wanted to preserve the art of handwoven fabrics and giving income to people in remote cultures.

    The fabrics are made by hand loom in India, and then sent to its factory in Bali, which produces about 50,000 pieces per month. Paul spends most of his time personally overlooking the production of all his products. “It’s so intricate and labor intensive, and if I’m not there it will not be right,” Paul says. In the future Paul aims to makes his company more professional and transparent so that he can expand it further by cooperating with other partners. “The brand will grow faster after we find the right partner,” Paul says.