Born in Paris, France, Sophie Albou Mechaly was exposed to the world of fashion at a young age when her parents started a shirt-making company called Julien in the late 1970s. Inspired by the multidisciplinary artistic scene during a family trip to New York City, her mother created a second shirt label – Le Garage – that grew to become more successful than Julien. Mechaly began assisting with the family business decided to drop her pursuit of journalism. After a stint as a sales assistant for designer Azzedine Alaia, Mechaly took classes at the Institut Français de la Mode, building the foundation that would eventually help her to launch Paul & Joe. The decision to strike out on her own was partially due to the lack of radically expressive French fashion at the time. Mechaly named her label after her children, Paul and Joe, and started with a menswear collection.