We all have experiences that give us pause--moments that make us take stock of our lives, our choices, and where we are headed. But few of us likely have this experience as intensely as James Whitner did. A native of a rough and tumble section of Pittsburgh, James was shot in 2004. "While I was laying there," he says, "I was thinking: 'I have to do something different. If I don't make a move--or if I make a move in the wrong direction--it'll change the whole complexion of my life.'"

Make a move is exactly what he did, and the direction he chose to make it towards was Charlotte, N.C. James spent six months there, soaking up the city's fashion and apparel scene. He soon realized that his taste level was much more elevated than most things he came across on the urban platform, and he yearned for something more refined. Soon after, Social Status was born.

Starting off as a denim brand in 2006, Social Status wouldn't stay small for long. James soon headed back to set up shop in Pittsburgh, and the store took off right away. "What we do is a lifestyle," he says. "You live it, you breath it, you taste it."

His new goal? To take every customer and elevate their tastes, just like he did with himself. Judging by the success of Social Status, so far, so good.

For more on James Whitner and Social Status, be sure to check out Episode 7 of FILA's Rise of the Independents above.