VavaVogue was designed to introduce talented stylist and designers that may be left out of that spotlight that is well deserved. We want to be the voice of all things fashion and build a platform for amazing talent. With that said, I’m so excited to introduce my very first interview with the talented Chris Clayton of Chris Cardi Couture! The Chris Cardi collection takes classic items and evolves them into luxury pieces. Chris Cardi made his mark into fashion in 2003 as a men’s denim line and has now emerged into a collection of effortless separates, unique tanks and accessory line. Check out what the man behind the brand has to say….
VV: Tells us a little about yourself. How did you start your career in the fashion industry?
CC:I conceived the brand my senior year at Florida State University. I majored in apparel design and technology during my time there. In 2003 I started doing customized t-shirts and then developed a line of men’s denim and later women’s denim. Word of mouth has been gaining traction ever since. Over the last 10 years we added accessories, outerwear, bags, and more. During this time I have been moonlighting with my brand as I worked a day job in the retail industry. I learned so much during that time as I covered the spectrum of working in boutiques as a sales rep to working as a district manager for a large specialty retailer.
VV: Describe your line.
CC: They are your traditional professionals such as lawyers, doctors, marketing execs, business execs, but they are also the new professionals in the form of stylists, DJs, bloggers, bike shop owners, chefs, publicist, and more. Our customers are trail blazers and first adapters. They are always looking for something new, exciting, and on the cusp. They navigate in multiple social circles with ease, have a diverse group of friends, and are always up for adventure. People who live the Chris Cardi lifestyle are essentially taste makers.
VV: Who is Chris Cardi’s audience?
CC: We have a company motto and a statement. The motto which we hashtag all the time has been catching on as of late with our following.
#LiveFreshDieSpoiled : simply means getting the most out of life every day. Living life on your terms and not chasing dreams but living the dream. For each person that dream can be different. It’s unique to their experience but we want to be the outfitter for that lifestyle. Our company statement reads as such:
“Intentionally designed to fulfill the desires of the professional yuppie, hipster, and trendsetter worldwide.”
So who is this person? They are your traditional professionals such as lawyers, doctors, marketing execs, business execs, but they are also the new professionals in the form of stylists, DJs, bloggers, bike shop owners, chefs, publicist, and more. Our customers are trail blazers and first adapters. They are always looking for something new, exciting, and on the cusp. They navigate in multiple social circles with ease, have a diverse group of friends, and are always up for adventure. People who live the Chris Cardi lifestyle are essentially taste makers.
VV: Your collection is mostly causal wear with a tailored fit. How did that come about?/ Are you looking to redefine the typical casual wear?
CC: From something as simple as a t-shirt to a piece as tailored and intricate as a trench coat we are always protecting the 4 pillars of our design theory.
1. Thoughtful design process and research.
To be honest it’s easy to bring a garment to market because there are so many corners you can cut. We just choose not to.
2. Premium materials and trims
We source the best fabrications, buttons, zippers, thread, and more to create a product that stands the test of time.
3. Quality craftsmanship of garment construction.
Many company’s small and large will take the easy route here. We are always looking at ways to innovate how we assemble our garments in a way that they look just as good on the inside as out. It’s just as important for the garments inside to appease the wearer as well.
4. Excellent tailored and appropriate fit.
We continue to evolve our styles to provide the best fit to have you look your best. However we don’t make every look for every person because certain looks don’t translate well for all body types. For example someone 6’8″ should steer clear of vertical stripes the same way someone short should avoid horizontal stripes or color blocking. Another example, tall wide collars can draw more attention to being short and stout than a sharp, thin, streamlined collar which lengthens you and puts the attention on your face. We keep proportion, color stories, texture, patterns, as well as other key factor that can influence a garments aesthetic.
Every company wants to say they are trendsetters, but in reality we are all chasing and tracing trends. Most established fashion houses have a team of people that specifically trend spot or look into what other brands are doing. If they aren’t doing that they are subscribing to trend forecast companies.
Don’t get me wrong it has played a huge role in the industry, but sometimes you can get too caught up in that and lose yourself. With that said I draw my creative direction from places I go, people I meet, music I listen to new and old, movies new and old, musicians, celebrities, people I follow on Instagram, but mostly whatever my biggest interest is in my lifestyle at the time.
I recently parted ways with driving a car on a daily basis and purchased a fixed gear commuter bike. I have been paying a great deal of attention to what other cyclist are wearing from helmets to accessories. This has my design theory focusing around clothing that is comfortable, functional, casual, and stylish for commuter bicyclist. Expect to see a heavy dose of this in the Fall collection. I also have a huge crush on super model Jourdan Dunn after seeing her featured in last months GQ. She loves to wear beanies and knit caps. So of course I scramble to design a small line of easy to wear Winter caps for the Fall collection. This was more a labor of love then anything. Getting a photo of her rocking one would be just as exciting as my company selling through our stock of Winter caps in one day. Again it’s great to be wanted. FYI Jourdan I want you.
VV: What celebrity do you see giving your brand justice?
CC: Other celebrities that I follow because I dig there style or they are just fun to see what the fuck they are wearing is Macklemore (badass), Wiz Khalifa (badass), Andre 3000(game changed) FUN. (Unapologetically hipster), Russell Westbrook (wild as all fuck), D. Wade (Gentlemanly) Chad Johnson bka OchoCinco (streetwear specialist), Christiano Ranaldo (Eurotrip), David Beckham (Universal cool), Chris Martin (The new grunge), Lenny Kravitz (Rockstar city lights), Miley Cyrus…yes Miley (surprisingly sophisticated), Ciara one of my all time favorites (Sexy), Solange (tastefully weird), Corrine Bailey Rae (girl next door), Taylor Swift (All American girl), Zooey Deschanel (Hipsters heartthrob), I could keep going?
VV: Where do you see Chris Cardi Couture in the future?
CC: Some of my notable projects as of late this past Summer we took the tank top segment by storm with tank tops made of state flags strategically cutting the garment so the integrity of the artwork is protected in such a way that people can show their state pride. We will expand in to international flags in the Spring due to the mass amount of inquires we have been inundated with.
A couple other notable projects from our past Spring/Summer 2013 collection are the gladiator leather bracelets, Alton Unisex tote, and Lincoln back pack. Our accessory line was a huge focus in 2012-2013. We have grown so much in that category and continue to do so.
Upcoming projects consist of wrapping up the Fall collection and getting it to market. We are behind because this is honestly our first foray into a Fall collection featuring items specifically for the colder months. We didn’t want to rush it so we ran late taking our time to bring quality to the market. At the end of the day it’s about the bottom line but you don’t get that result by pushing bullshit onto consumers. We are about establishing a brand that will be around long after we are gone and the best way to do that is to build relationships with customers through our products that last a lifetime.
For Fall expect three offerings. We will bring our street wear or casual wear to market first in the form of graphics tees, Henley’s, hoodies, puffer vest, cargo sweats, knickers, sweatshirts, leggings, textured tanks, u-neckline tees, pop overs, duffle bags, and knit caps. Our second offering will feature outerwear in the form of leather moto jackets, bomber jackets, peacoats, trench coats, leather gloves, leather bags, leather wallets and knit tops. Our final offer will focus on holiday with dressier pieces
such as cocktail dresses, sequin tops and leggings, cardigans, boleros, scarfs, bow ties, dress shirts, slacks, velvet sports coats, and tailored vest.
VV: How can your fans reach out to you; Facebook, Twitter, email, Instagram, ect.?
Follow us on; Twitter, Instagram and Tumblr @chris_cardi
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