At just 20 years old, Garo Bazarbachian has already made a name for himself. His Armenian last name, truncated to one syllable, is also his self-made brand. Pronounced BĂZ with a short a (not BÂZ, as its native pronunciation would suggest), Bazarbachian says he hopes his new line of clothing apparel will be worn by Armenians and non-Armenians alike.
“You can see BAZ worn by an Armenian kid like me, or a random American kid might find it [the different language] on the shirt cool,” said Bazarbachian.
Bazarbachian designed his first ‘season’ on a vinyl printer back when he was a senior at Winchester High School in the spring of 2017. It was a black tee-shirt featuring the name of his brand in white Armenian letters (Պազ) against a lightning scene.
Now, over a year later, Bazarbachian can call himself a small business owner. He just “dropped” his fifth season, which honors Gyumri with The Heritage hoodie. Bazarbachian’s mom was born in Gyumri; he connected that piece of his mom’s story with his own by creating an online lookbook and video campaign in Watertown, a neighborhood that played a large role in his upbringing.
Bazarbachian grew up in the local Armenian community much like many of his friends. He attended St. Stephen’s Armenian Elementary School and St. Stephen’s Saturday School; he’s also part of the Homenetmen of Greater Boston scout troop. He says that’s where he picked up most of his leadership skills, which he feels are important in running a business. “I try to be involved in everything. I see myself as Armenian, as we all should.”
Bazarbachian is inspired by his Armenian heritage and says that he wants to make it even more relevant to his consumers, who are largely part of the local Armenian Diaspora. Past seasons have included wearable tributes to Armenia’s historically brave military leader Vartan Mamigonian (The Warrior tee). In his fourth season, Bazarbachian’s orange and red tee-shirt line depicted an old white BMW with tinted windows, trimmed with the colors of the Armenian flag. Above the image are coordinates to Sako Auto Body, his father’s repair shop in Medford, Mass. “When I told my friends about it, they just went crazy.”
Sako Auto Body is where you can find Bazarbachian managing the books on any given Friday. But his top priority is six-miles away at Suffolk University, where he is pursuing a finance degree and minoring in entrepreneurship and business law.
Bazarbachian said he has also been inspired by his father during this journey. “It’s definitely about owning something,” said Bazarbachian, whose father immigrated to America from Lebanon with essentially nothing and set up shop in a two-car garage. “There’s always that one guy who is better than you,” he said recalling some of his father’s advice. “You always need to keep working, keep going. Even though you may not catch up to him, at least you’re on that path.”
Bazarbachian says he is looking forward to releasing more seasons of BAZ Clothing as well as hopefully collaborating with other Armenian brands. You can follow Bazarbachian’s journey online and on Instagram @bazclothing.