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The Stronghold Founder Michael Paradise

The Lowdown

Sitting Down With ‘The Stronghold’

Ahead of the launch of our new collection with LA workwear brand The Stronghold, we sat down with founder Michael Paradise to chat about the brand’s deep-rooted heritage and what we can expect from the range.

Aug 23 · 6 min read

Originally founded in Los Angeles in 1895, The Stronghold was the first branded apparel to be manufactured in LA and was the only denim and canvas workwear maker in LA before WWII. By 1912, The Stronghold employed 1,000 workers in downtown Los Angeles, making it the largest manufacturer of clothing in Southern California.

It’s no secret that workwear plays a huge part in men’s clothing as brands ensure that key basics are versatile and can be transitioned from work to play. With 125 years of workwear heritage to the brand’s name, Michael described how and why workwear has become such a key part of menswear in the current fashion landscape. He told us, ‘Many of the core pieces in classic men’s sportswear are based in work wear of all kinds, including military uniforms. These garments were designed to fit and be functional, and they’ve stood the test of time.’

Shirt and hat on a coatstand

He continues, ‘Denim jeans were originally worn by miners in the American West, Herringbone denim apparel was the uniform of the early American railroad workers, khaki trousers originated with officers of the British Army and the white crew neck tee shirt was first issued to the sailors of the American Navy in 1913.’

At the heart of this brand is its historic legacy and the founder and workers at The Stronghold put that at the centre of everything they do, most notably through their manufacturing methods.

Male model wearing blue jeans and green jacket

All garments today are still manufactured in Los Angeles at The Stronghold factory using the same methods of constructions as the original garments. Alongside manufacturing, all of the rivets, washers, buttons, labels and fabrics are authentic reproductions of original items, based on the company’s archives.

Marketing themselves as a predominantly workwear orientated brand, it wouldn’t be far-fetched to assume that the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted them heavily. However, their USP of mixing both smart and crucially, casual, workwear has proved pivotal.

Michael reflects on how COVID has changed the way we dress and which styles have become more popular as a result. ‘People are concerned about comfort today,’ he explains, ‘They are dressing in a more relaxed way with looser fits in bottoms and jackets, fleece tops and tee shirts making make more sense.’

Models wearing jeans and tops with a motorbike

With a plethora of key pieces to choose from in this capsule collection, it’s no surprise that Michael spoke highly of the entire range and kept his cards close to his chest when it came to highlighting a favourite piece. ‘There isn’t a single piece in this collection that I’m not proud of and many of them are going to end up as part of my personal wardrobe,’ he admits with a smile.

As the face of The Stronghold, Michael knows a thing or two about men’s fashion and the key to a capsule wardrobe. Divulging the items he cannot live without, he insisted that ‘cargo pants, hooded sweatshirts, tee shirts, chore coats and baseball hats,’ were the pieces he couldn’t live without in his wardrobe.

Clothing laid out on a chair

And finally, it only felt right to ask Michael all about the brand’s mascot, ‘Stronghold Steve’, a figure that surpasses Michael as the oldest association with The Stronghold.

So who’s Steve? ‘Stronghold Steve is the official mascot of The Stronghold brand. He was first drawn and introduced to the public in 1908. For over 100 years he has been featured on advertisements, posters, calendars, and labels for The Stronghold.’

Mens tan leather jacket hanging up

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