Anthony Lupseco at Shockoe Denim, set to open in August Photo by Isaac Harrell
Anthony Lupesco grew up above his father's clothing factory in northern Italy and started going to fabric trade shows in Paris as a teenager.
Now he's moving into that most American of fashions: blue jeans, although history books say the first pair were made in Italy.
After studying fashion design at the Academy of Art University in San Francisco, Lupesco moved to Shockoe Bottom and opened IF, a high-end men's and women's clothing store in Shockoe Slip. The 26-year-old entrepreneur closed IF in 2010, but he didn't give up on the fashion industry.
"I wanted to make something [from materiala] made in the U.S.," Lupesco says. "I went with denim because that's pretty much what I wear every day anyway."
Shockoe Denim, Lupesco's custom-made designer jeans company, is set to open its 2,800-square-foot shop at 13 S. 15th St. in early August. A glass partition will separate the showroom from the manufacturing room.
"Everything you'll see in the front is going to be made in the back," Lupesco says, adding that customers will be invited to enjoy a complimentary beer or wine at the bar in the showroom.
The business will have help from Gianni Santagati, the patternmaker behind Versace and Dolce & Gabbana.
"Just about any Italian big name that you can think of, [Santagati's] been their patternmaker," Lupesco says. "He's one of the last few guys of that vanguard in the sense that he's a master patternmaker and also a master tailor, so he really has a full sense of what's going on."
The jeans — for men and women — include a straight-leg style, a trimmer version of a straight leg and a skinny fit. Lupesco is buying the denim from Greensboro, N.C.-based Cone Denim, and a business in Kentucky will do the washes for the jeans. They will cost $175 to $225 off the rack. Lupesco hopes to eventually sell Shockoe Denim internationally.
"I'd like to make the best jean in the world," he says. "If I could claim that, I'd be very happy."