After attending Fashion Institute of Technology, one of the most highly recognized fashion institutes in the country, and launching his fashion career working on the Upper East Side in Manhattan, Aaron Cohen decided to bring his talent and passion back to his hometown of Birmingham, Michigan.
For those unfamiliar, Birmingham is one of the most affluent, trendy, and cultured neighborhoods in Michigan. Just 15 minutes north of Detroit’s city center, Birmingham’s small downtown is jam packed with high-end fashion boutiques, yoga studios, upscale eateries, nightclubs, and historic theatres. The area is also home to the prestigious Townsend Hotel, which hosts most of the country’s professional ball clubs when they visit to play Detroit teams. It’s not uncommon to see pro athletes and other celebrities strolling down Old Woodward or Maple Avenue. Birmingham is semi-reminiscent of Beverly Hills’ Rodeo Drive neighborhood and is the perfect place to launch an original fashion concept. That’s just what Aaron Cohen did.
In 2006, Cohen opened Revive at 154 West Maple Avenue. His goal was not to simply open another high-end urban fashion boutique and meet sales goals. His vision was much greater.
“I chose to name my business Revive because that’s what we are doing,” exclaims Cohen. “We aren’t just selling lines and brands normally not seen in Michigan; our mission is to Revive Michigan’s culture and lifestyle, through fashion.”
Cohen travels for a living, searching for the newest trends and designer lines to be shipped back to the great state of Michigan and distributed under the Revive brand. Most of the pieces featured in Revive are sourced from Los Angeles, New York, Tokyo, and Milan. While Aaron is out buying and continuing to “Make Moves” (the company’s slogan), he relies heavily on his tight knit staff to keep things moving back home. He explains his relationship with his staff to be more personal and family-based than professional. Each Revive team member is responsible for building the culture inside the store as well as marketing the Revive lifestyle outside of it, via social media and blogging.
“Social media is crucial for us not only to build online presence, but more importantly to display the lifestyle we’ve built at Revive,” says Cohen. “About 60% of our sales are phone orders, which means those people aren’t physically touching the pieces they are purchasing. This type of trust is built through social media.”
Up until last year Revive focused on street-oriented fashion and sneakers. However, Revive recently expanded to a second location with a completely new focus. The new location targets a more affluent buyer interested in high-end couture, featuring pieces hand-picked from designer showrooms by Cohen himself. Designers include Givenchy, Yves Saint Laurent, and Christian Dior. The funny thing about the second location is that it’s positioned directly across the street from its original store! So now the Revive brand has a home at 154 & 157 West Maple.
“We wanted to expand not only into a new space but into a new market and strengthen our brand in Michigan,” Cohen explains. “It would have been too hard to merchandise high-end designer couture with street fashion, so we decided to open up a completely new store. In most areas opening a second location across the street from its original wouldn’t work, but in Birmingham it does. People enjoy bouncing around from shop to shop and experiencing our unique way of life here. Plus, when our clients leave Revive, the first thing they see is Revive.”
The future for Revive is bright. Cohen and his team are currently looking for a new site to open up a third location in Michigan and on June 2, 2012 they are re-opening its original location with a new look. Cohen is also forming a charity division to dig deeper into his mission and give Revive Michigan a greater meaning.
I appreciate Cohen’s “Make Moves” mentality and respect his role in reviving Michigan. Visit the Revive website and connect with Aaron Cohen directly via Twitter and Facebook to learn more about the movement, the fashion, and the lifestyle.