BCC: You became involved in fashion at a very young age while living in your native France. What was your childhood like?
Audigier: It was just my mom and brother and sister. I was the one taking care of my family at a young age. I wanted to help my mom and make her dreams come true. You want to make happy your mom and your family, and you want to make happy your friends and your employees. This is the way I live.
BCC: That was a lot of responsibility for you at such a young age.
Audigier: I was a big boy for my age, you know. It was a different time than it is today. It was more easy, maybe. There were less boundaries then.
BCC: You developed a strong passion for music and entertainment very early on.
Audigier: I wanted to maybe be a singer. I loved the Rolling Stones. And I watched a lot of movies, people like Dean Martin, James Dean.
BCC: Did you always have that feeling that you wanted to do something big with your life?
Audigier: I was coming to America every year on vacation. I was always feeling sad leaving California. I was always dreaming about coming over here. I tried to make the dream come true, and this is what I did. I had my first design at 16.
BCC: Shortly after you made that first design, you were you discovered by MacKeen Jeans. How did they find you?
Audigier: I was an employee at a retail store and we were selling the biggest amount of jeans. And the owner of this company came to the store to see what was going on — why were selling so many jeans in a small city. It was more than Paris. Because I was a teenager, there was a lot of enthusiasm and I was a bit of a trendsetter in my city, so I had a lot of friends, you know. I was selling more jeans than anybody else in the city because I was going out and people would see the brand and say, 'I like this product.' They decided pretty soon to hire me as a designer. I was 16 when they hired me, and by 18, I was a businessman, dealing with big companies.
BCC: You eventually decided to follow your dreams and move to New York, freelancing for some of the biggest names in the denim industry like Guess, American Outfitters, Fiorucci, Bisou Bisou, Levi's, Lee, and Diesel.
Audigier: I always said yes and I never said no to anybody. I like to do a lot of things at the same time. I am not stopped by anything. I like to be busy. I like to work under an emergency.
BCC: You managed to become a household name once you landed at Von Dutch. How did your relationship with them originate?
Audigier: I met a guy who was writing a movie on Von Dutch. Talking to him, I decided to do a line with Von Dutch. I became the head designer of Von Dutch, and a vice president too. I was able to create a phenomenon in three years.
BCC: It's fair to say that you put Von Dutch on the map.
Audigier: The time with Von Dutch was a great moment, you know. I was doing my one-man show over there. It was a really little company when I started and we created this phenomenon.
BCC: That phenomenon seemed to start the day Britney Spears ventured into your store on Melrose in L.A.
Audigier: She wanted to do a line with me, but we were too busy with Von Dutch. I put a cap on her, and another one on Justin Timberlake. At the time they were split up. It was in all the magazines, all around the world, sporting the Von Dutch cap. This is how a phenomenon starts.
BCC: So what made you leave Von Dutch?
Audigier: We were not on the same page and I wanted to start something on my own.
BCC: So there you are, in your 40s, looking for a new challenge, and suddenly this new venture pops into your mind.
Audigier: I was looking at all these people on the street with tattoos in California, and thought, 'Why not do a T-shirt with tattoos?' This could be done, you know. So I called the 'Godfather of Tattoo,' Don Ed Hardy, and bought all of his archives from him so I could start a new regime and a new phenomenon, three years after Von Dutch.