24 Days of Emerging Designers: Chromat
Becca McCharen's vision for Chromat is dramatically precise. With a background in architecture, a cornerstone of her work, the New York-based brand is undoubtedly strong and powerful; that's why it's been on Beyonce, Madonna and die-hard fans galore. Now focusing on conceptual pieces, swimwear and sport, we caught up with her to see how she's built the brand.
When did you decide you were going to switch from architecture to fashion?
For years after graduating architecture school, I worked for architects and urban planners, but as soon as the day was over I would run home and work on whatever weird fashion project I was into at the time, just for fun. Fast forward 2 years later and the weird fashion projects became Chromat, and a few pieces ended up in a friend's holiday pop-up shop in NYC. After that snowballed, I ended up quitting my day job to move to NYC and do Chromat full time!
Is there a moment when you were like I'm doing this? Also, why swimwear?
When I quit my job and moved to NYC, that was a defining moment. I figured I would have to get an architecture job while I built Chromat, but I kept getting orders and 3 months later I still hadn't had time to send my resume to architecture firms. So that was it!
With Chromat, we are interested in taking the structural elements of garments and extruding them to the surface to create scaffolding for the body. Swimwear and lingerie are the garments closest to the body; they are a perfect first skin on which to translate the linear context lines of the form.
What are some of your strongest pieces?
The Chromat Underwire Bralette is mega popular and easy to wear. The Machine City Dress is a great showpiece and translates Chromat's background in architectural theory. And it was in a Lexus commercial!
What do your customers love about your core cages? What are some of the interesting ways people have styled them?
Chromat's core cages are what defines the architectural nature of the Chromat brand. They are structural pieces that can define an outfit. Some of my favorite stylings have been monochrome looks- like all-white or all-black looks where the Chromat cage functions as the outermost exoskeleton of texture.
Mathletes is next. What is your vision for 2014?
For the SS14 Mathletes collection, Chromat was inspired by mathematical competitions. Sports jerseys, team uniforms and the intellectual mastery of NASA Astronauts were referenced in the new collection of sport and swim.
How have you evolved and why did you design more athletic pieces?
The Sport, Swim and footwear collections have all evolved from our architectural foundations, and each has imprinted their own structures into new territories. The athletic pieces were built as the groundwork while we continue to explore new technology and find new ways to incorporate fashion and technology. Look out for more on that next season!
Next season has a lot of branding. Why did you take the brand in that direction?
The Chromat branding was an act of defiance against the onslaught of Chromat knockoffs we've seen roll out of factories in the last few seasons.
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