"I remember we went by coach to Paris Fashion Week. We literally went on budget"
Johnson Gold, Founder and Editor-In-Chief , PAUSE online
We sat down with Johnson Gold, Founder and Editor-In-Chief of PAUSE online, for a pre-flight catch up on Luxe Men’s Streetwear, digital influence and the early days of PAUSE.
How did you get into the fashion industry?
I started a blog called ‘Pause For Swagg’, back in 2011, and I didn’t really think about it, I just started that to get a retail job. So, I started that blog because I didn’t have any experience and I was so young at the time that I just needed to start something, which did actually help me get into retail. I created something really that was for my personal career and the fashion grew inside of me
Then I thought, I could actually turn ‘Pause For Swagg’ into a magazine. So I remember, I was in second year at uni sat in my room just brainstorming on all these pieces of paper, and I was stressing, thinking ‘what’s it going to be? what am I going to call it?’, not realizing I had the word there that whole time. I had ‘Pause For Swag’ right there, which had the word ‘PAUSE’, I just didn’t know it. From interning from the university magazine I learnt things that helped, and I could apply to my own magazine, where I had a website and talked about things I personally liked at the beginning. At that time streetwear fashion was different, and fashion forward guys were buying more high street brands, so anything new at Topman I would write about. I remember I did a post on snapback trends, “Chris Brown was wearing a snapback”- it was that era, a long, long time ago. I just kept doing it, and doing it, and doing it, and people were like ‘you should keep going with this, this is cool man’. Then, I remember when I got my first CV and somebody wanted to write for me, and I was like, “what’s going on, this is so weird”. So that’s how it eventually grew, because I kept doing it, and on the outside people just saw it as a ‘cool’ site. I don’t know who or how many people were behind that, but they enjoyed it and they just kept checking it out.
From there, more doors in fashion kept opening working on different brands. The thing is with me, I was always trying to go to events, to get the name out there, meet people, network- I was really big on networking at that point.
I remember we went by coach [to Paris Fashion Week]. We literally went on budget, and stayed in a free hotel luckily due to the magazine, and that was one of the best experiences for me because it was so random and last minute. It was so impulsive and we met so many people, and I think that’s what it’s about, just going for it. That’s how I kind of got into fashion really. Even though a door wouldn’t open, I would still try go to blag my way through and network at an event. Sometimes that’s what you have to do to get yourself into the door. It’s not always going to open for you, but you have to get into it by showing that you do belong there, and you do have something to give to the community.
How long has PAUSE been going for?
PAUSE has been going since 2012, but professionally since 2015.
How have you seen it grown since then?
It’s grown a lot, especially since last year, every year it grows more and more and more. And we just know this from the way more brands want to work with us, the deals we are getting, the sponsorships and partnerships, and the value of that. Seeing the growth of the value of that, you see the growth of the business in that too, and you can see the growth of the actual company. Especially since last year, we did so much last year, it was insane.
What has been a pivotal moment for you, something that you always dreamt of doing?
We did a huge job with the Japanese Embassy last year. Basically we worked with a PR agency who were part of the Embassy, and they were looking to push their Japanese brands. So we flew in a bunch of influencers to Paris, and did a whole editorial in all Japanese brands, styling it all. It was a whole partnership formed between us and the brands, that was a huge project for us. We were working with ten, or twelve brands, who were involved in that whole project, so that was quite big for us.
There has been a lot, we have done so many events, which have all been successful in the terms of audience flow. Everytime we do an event we see the quality and the growth of our audience, in life. And that’s always good to see. So yeah, it’s growing in a good way, every year.
Do you think the digital world is helping you advance?
100%. When we started, we obviously did the website, but we did do print. We did six print issues, with two sold internationally. But at that time I was trying to find the core audience, trying to figure out where we are [in the market] and who we are as well. Financially that wasn’t really doing well for us, and I thought, ‘we can’t just keep doing this’, because we were still a small company, trying to grow, trying to work with specific brands, but in order to do that you have to grow. So we focused on growing as a brand first, and that’s probably why we are where we are today, that’s probably why I’m talking to you guys, sat here in Dubai. For us, we have really utilized our digital platform in all of our advertising, we create things for brands that are powered through our platforms. That is who we are, where our audience connects with us through social media. They are all young, stylish guys on Instagram who want 1’000 likes from their new trainers post, sending us content to get featured on PAUSE Shots (@pauseshots). Yeah, that is the digital world, that is us.
It’s refreshing that you celebrate mens fashion too, because not many accounts solely celebrate that. Luxe’s menswear fashion that is really leading the industry now, and you guys are at the forefront of that conversation.
Yeah, yeah I think that is what has always been at the heart of it really. A lot of people always tell us that we should add womens, but we have created a specific niche and brand, and that’s what we want and that’s what I want it to be. There’s obviously so many women’s platforms out there, and women’s streetwear is coming through now and growing. I’m not saying that [women] can’t be inspired by what they are seeing already, but 30% of our audience is female, so women in streetwear are still going to look at it in a way and get inspired. It doesn’t make a difference. Especially in the genderless world we now live in, where people wear anything. They see something, they like it, they wear it.
What’s your opinion on high-end and streetwear coming together?
I think it’s sick. I think it’s definitely the new wave right now, and everyone is embracing it. It’s not just about wearing Stussy head-to-toe, it’s not about wearing a Stussy tee, or a Gucci side bag, or an Off-White bag y’know, it’s then styling it. It’s about it all coming together, that is the new wave right now, that’s where the money is at.
So do you think streetwear is the new luxury?
No, for me personally I think it’s how you wear it. Because I can see some people that wear Fendi sneakers and an Off-White tee and just kill it, they just aren’t inspiring me, it’s not interesting. Some people can wear a pair of Nike sneakers that aren’t really luxury streetwear, but style it with something really clean and maybe add an accessory from a luxury brand, which too me is more like a ‘fit.’ Not in your face. You don’t have to wear luxury to be streetwear, you don’t have to wear Prada head to toe to say ‘I’m streetwear now’. It doesn’t work like that, it’s always about how you put it together.
Are influencers the new face of fashion brands?
Yeah 100%. The game has changed now. I remember back, like even for me, we used to work with models but now we just work with influencers. That’s the new wave now, it is what it is. They are helping brands reach a certain level of audience, and its working, and we can all see it because it’s in our faces as we scroll, and it influences us even if we talk about it. Even if we like it, even if we click and look at the product. It’s communicating in the right way, and the right digital way.
What was your favourite collection at Men’s Fashion Week this season?
To be honest, this season just gone I wasn't like ‘wow’. There is normally that one brand that will ‘wow’ me. We did a post on PAUSE of the The top five from Men’s Collection from Paris, and we included Dior Homme, AMI, CMMN SWDN and Raf Simons. To pick one, thats hard. How I see things is that if I see something and it makes me want to buy it, but this season I didn’t see anything I really wanted to buy. So not this season… I’m very very picky when it comes to that. I mean, this season there was nice stuff, things i will potentially buy on influence by seeing how brands put it on social media, but seeing it straight from the catwalk there is nothing really.
Last season there was the Dior Kaw’s sneakers, and that I had my eye on for months, so if something has me feeling like that- but this season, there is nothing I have my eye on yet.
So from last season then, what has been your hottest cop?
The Dior Kaws High Tops, I was on a waiting list for them for like a month.
What are five items that you couldn’t leave the house without….
My jewellery, cap, because I just feel naked without them. My phone, My laptop, my laptop is my life, I carry it everywhere with me, everywhere work wise, and my wallet of course.
So for PAUSE, what is next?
There is loads of plans, there will be another PAUSE Yard event (@pauseyard) this year and a lot more other stuff, but we won’t be giving anything away. There is a lot in the pipeline.
We launched the first PAUSE Yard event in November, and the vibe was really great, and the whole Instagram scene, it went really, really successful for us, and we were happy with the turnout. So definitely something that we are going to be putting on more, and then a lot more other stuff, I think you’ll be seeing more of.
Do you feel like because you live in the digital world there is that need to physically connect with your audience, through say PAUSE Yard?
Yeah, for us PAUSE Yard was a way of bringing all the online influencers, and other people into one world, in one room. And people came, and they were like, ‘oh I saw so-and-so from Instagram”, that kind of vibe. We also flew influencers in from a few countries so it was a good way of connecting people and bringing our Instagram audience to life as well as allowing customers to come and shop what they see on the Gram.
And lastly, a quick game of ‘PAUSE or Skip’...
Chest Rig? Skip.
Chunky Trainers? PAUSE.
Babushka? PAUSE... depending on the right scarf.
Balaclava? Mood: PAUSE.
PAUSE is an independent digital publication focused on young male fashion, covering street style, the latest trends, style advice and reveal the latest products available for the fashion conscious young male.