Since learning the art of sewing at his mother's knee in Trinidad, Francis Hendy has been quietly building a fashion legacy. At the close of 2004, with a new collection being introduced, four distinct fashion lines, and plans for wholesaling and franchising his brand, Hendy was set to clothe Americans nationwide in his funky, colorful fashions.

Francis Hendy was born in Port of Spain, Trinidad, to a family of five siblings. His father Franklin was a contractor and builder and his mother Elizabeth was a seamstress, deeply involved in the Trinidad fashion scene.

In 1972, at about the age of 21, Hendy decided to join an older sister in New York City and seriously pursue a design career. In New York he approached Trinidadian contacts and began designing custom clothes for them. He also began creating elaborate costumes for Brooklyn's annual Caribbean Day Parade. He sharpened his talents with an apprenticeship with a master tailor, and also took courses at the Parson's School of Design and the famed Fashion Institute of Technology. In 1986 Hendy set up a small storefront shop in the Flatbush district of Brooklyn. Francis Hendy Inc. provided ready-to-wear and custom pieces to a loyal clientele.

By 1996, Hendy was bringing in $80,000 per year at his tiny shop and he felt he had reached his limit. In 1998 he decided to move into Manhattan's famed garment district and he opened a showroom on West 39th Street. Instead he got MTV exposure, which proved a lot more valuable. Hendy became the designer of choice for rap and R&B artists. By 1999 Francis Hendy Inc, had annual sales of $400,000, fueled in large part by his

musician clientele.

Hendy entered the high-profile ready-to-wear market in the Spring of 1998 with the debut of his first men's sportswear collection during New York's famed Fashion Week. By 2000 he was getting quite a bit of notice, though his clothes still had rock star leanings. The review concluded on a positive calling his designs, "refreshingly inspired." Fashion insiders agreed and Hendy was awarded the prestigious 2000 Michael Award for Menswear Designer of the Year. Hendy called receiving the award the proudest moment of his career.

Over the next several years Francis Hendy, Inc. grew. A half-dozen full-time sewers joined the staff as well as all four of Hendy's siblings. As the company expanded, Hendy's designs became more sophisticated, less rock-and-roll. His Fall 2001 collection was inspired by his father, who died that year. That year his sales topped half a million. He was also short-listed for the Rising Star award from the Fashion Group International. Meanwhile, Hendy sharpened his design focus.

In 2002 Hendy added a women's line to his offerings.

In September of 2002 Hendy opened his first retail shop in the trendy Soho district of New York. He stocked the 1700-square-foot space with clothes from his Hendy Bridge line of moderately priced classics in a wide variety of colors and styles. He also included his FH2Tees line, which featured casual pieces in dark blue and black denim. Luxury pieces from his top-end line, Francis Hendy, were also in stock. As fashion lovers flocked to his slick new shop, his 2003 collection received rave reviews for its textural variation and luxurious materials.

A deeply spiritual man and a born-again Christian, Hendy credited much of his success to his faith. Nonetheless, Hendy still struggled. The shaky post 9/11 economy forced Hendy to shut his Soho shop after only a year. Back in the Garment District show room, Hendy and team found it difficult to keep up with customer demand. With his skill, family, and faith behind him, it seems that Hendy can't miss. Expect to see his clothes hanging in a closet near you soon.

The Look

His style is daring and fashion forward, always exploring new horizons in color fabric and design. His vision is fresh and focused allowing him to discern fashion trends and reconcile them with the needs and desires of his clients. Hendy is a natural talent who came to design in his youth, having a mother as a seamstress and a grandfather as a tailor. He grew up in the midst of fashion and design. Today positioned as one of the rising stars of the industry, he has become a leader in fashion trend forecasting. Hendy maneuvers silk, linen, wool and other fine fabric into perfectly tailored suits and separates. Hendy is also most known for his intricate work with skins, creating pieces that transform leather and suede into fabulous ensembles. He also became known for his use of ultra suede, a synthetic suede-like material.

Who Wears It

Wyclef Jean, Missy Elliot, Britney Spears, DMX, Whitney Houston, R. Kelly, L.L. Cool J, the Backstreet Boys, Sean "Diddy" Combs, Usher, Steven Tyler, Aerosmith, Lil John,

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