HOW JARAGON’S TROPHY SHOES CONTRIBUTED $10,000 TO HIV/AIDS RESEARCH

By: Hillary LeBlanc , July 27 2022



Colombian born immigrant to Canada, Juan Sebastian Aragon never thought he would be selling Trophy Shoes. Some of his earliest memories in Canada include finding rare Valentino pieces at thrift stores and re-selling them to make cash. He had an eye for style and a zest for business. Now Aragon is an established shoe designer whose brand has become highly coveted.

Born in Cali, Colombia, Aragon was five when he and his family immigrated to the United States in “pursuit of the American dream”. He grew up in the city of Miami, Florida until the summer of 2008 when his parents were faced with a deportation letter, saying they were denied the American permanent residency. At 15 Aragon’s family relocated to Canada where they first settled into a family shelter in the city of Toronto. Aragon describes it as “one of the happiest and most joyful moments of my life, because my family was together, looking forward to such a bright future, all of us filled with joy and happiness because we were given one more shot to make a difference, in a country that opened its doors for us to become Canadian citizens.” At the time, he did not know that the shelter would be the catalyst for his business.

Across the street from that family shelter Aragon describes a liquidation store that sparked an idea. “We found racks and racks of Original Valentino Brand clothing going for $2-5 dollars. I quickly saw an opportunity to start buying and selling these designer garments in all the local barbershops, beauty salons, and jewellery stores around the city. I started to become the uber fashion kid who delivered an on-demand experience to all of his clients’ locations.” After several years he relocated to Gatineau, which led to him to attend UOttawa for International Business Management and studied abroad in Milan, where his brand Jaragon was born.

In Milan, Aragon realized he had become a connoisseur of luxury resale from his years of experience reselling Valentino and decided to tap into his business savvy skills to start his own brand. After sketching shoe concepts for weeks, he coordinated with a professor to meet with Giordano Toressi, one of the most influential and Iconic designers in Italy. For four months Aragon pushed until he finally went to Toressi’s factory by himself, which led to two months of working alongside Toressi and his team. From there, his first shoe prototype was created.

Once Aragon returned to Canada he saved enough money to make a 10 shoe-sample run and launched his brand Jaragon (Juan and Aragon fused as the namesake) during Art Basel in Miami. Aragon defines Jaragon, the brand, as an inspirational brand. “I want to give people a platform, through my brand, to share their life stories of persistence, and sacrifices made, in order to achieve their personal life’s triumph. My logo is an “A” shaped Arch of Triumph, which allows people to identify the brand from a distance, and at the same time feel, inspired by the unique stories expressed through the particular colours and taste of each Jaragon Trophy Art piece, which can ultimately inspire anyone to achieve their own dreams.” He also uses the slogan “For Those Who Know” because “anything you achieve in life is for those who know what it takes to achieve it.”

After the brand launch, the organization CANFAR approached Jaragon because they liked the Trophy vision and what Jaragon represented. The Canadian Foundation for AIDS Research (CANFAR) was founded in 1987 and aims to end Canada’s HIV epidemic by leading national strategies to increase prevention, testing, treatment and linkage to care, and to end HIV stigma. Over the past three and a half decades, CANFAR has invested more than $24 million in close to 500 grants to HIV/AIDS research projects that have led to tremendous breakthroughs in HIV prevention, testing, access to treatment, stigma, and the search for a cure. (www.CANFAR.com). They asked Jaragon if he “wanted to be part of this noble cause & help make a change for HIV/AIDS in the world.” Aragon explains that it was an easy yes for him. “I saw it as a great opportunity to share CANFAR‘s 25 years persistence story through our trophy vision. Again, we want to be that platform that shares inspiring stories that can change people’s lives. Hence, partnering up with CANFAR was more than just a partnership, it was one step closer to finding the cure for AIDS, and raising awareness globally through a Trophy Art piece.” 

The CANFAR trophy heels auctioned for $10,000

Aragon knew that being part of CANFAR’s history would be a perfect moment to come full circle with his own brand. He partnered with his original mentor Giordano Torresi for the creation of the trophy heels. “The Trophy heels for CANFAR took approximately 4 months to hand make in Italy. These Trophy heels were Co-designed in partnership between Jaragon & Giordano Torresi for CANFAR BSE 25th (Bloor Street Entertains 25th) anniversary. The trophy heels were embellished with a stunning gold plated heel that connects both Jaragon’s iconic Arch of Triumph logo on the heel and the iconic square shaped heel from Giordano Torresi, all into one powerful statement art piece. Ultimately, representing beauty, sacrifice, and triumph. We chose white embossed python skin (stamped leather) to symbolise faith, purity, and peacefulness. We took into consideration the long fight against HIV/AIDS, and all of the hard work and persistence that scientists, doctors, and charity entities such as CANFAR have put into striving against this disease in order to find a cure. Furthermore, we engraved the letters ” LO ” on the left bottom heel, and ” VE ” on the right bottom heel stamped in red. This represents love & unity. Both heels need to be placed together in unity in order to understand the meaning, love, just as we need to stick together in the fight to end HIV/AIDS. Lastly, the heels were embellished with clean cut curtain dropping pink zirconia crystals that gave a nice touch to the overall colors that represent CANFAR”, says Aragon.

The Trophy heels were auctioned off that evening for an astonishing $10,000. Aragon describes the feeling as humbling, “we were really proud and humbled to think how we can make a huge difference one step at a time. Also, it was a true honour to be amongst some of the world’s most influential sponsors/powerhouses that also made a huge impact such as BMO, Air Canada, Dolce and Gabbana, Porsche, Holt Renfrew and many others. On behalf of our entire Jaragon team and the team in Italy, we were truly honoured to be part of such a great cause where more than 800 guests and exclusive sponsors/partners participated and raised an astonishing $1.1 M for HIV research and programs focusing on stigma and youth awareness. We felt the importance of giving back as we acknowledge the hard work that not only CANFAR has put into making a difference in the last 25 years, but also all of those incredible minds of scientists, doctors, and sponsors that have worked hard to effectively make changes to end HIV in Canada and for the world.”

Notably, Aragon’s one-of-a-kind creations have graced the feet of celebrities such as Grammy award winner Marc Anthony, Colombian super stars J Balvin and Maluma, Jim Treliving from Dragons Den, and Miss Universe Canada Nova Stevens. Currently, he is preparing his debut Trophy high heel line with Giordano Torresi — while also designing for Jennifer Lopez, Drake, and expanding to the United Arab Emirates market with his one-of-one  Trophy design experiences. 

Aragon with Marc Anthony and his trophy shoes


Moving forward, Aragon wants to keep a philanthropic vision for the Jaragon brand through a movement based on his slogan , ‘For Those Who Know’. This is still in the early development stages but it will become a platform where people can make a difference and give back to not only one, but thousands of the most impactful charity organizations in the world.

Aragon is also excited to announce that CANFAR has asked Jaragon to participate in their 26th annual event this year. “We have been called again as sponsors to attend this year’s CANFAR 26TH, taking place on November 2022. We are thrilled to continue our philanthropic journey for all the years to come,” says Aragon.

To learn more about the Trophy Shoes visit www.jaragon.com.

To learn more about CANFAR visit www.CANFAR.com


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Published: July 27 2022  |  Author: Hillary LeBlanc  |  Tagged: None