Richard Chai has been busy with collaborations: He had his line for Target, a T-shirt for charity with Barneys, and now, a project with Topman. After taking a fashion-design class at Parsons at age 13, Chai was hooked. Now, with successful women’s and men’s lines, he has established a name for himself in New York. For Topman, Chai—along with Henry Holland, Phillip Lim, and more—revamped the white tee. (The shirts hit stores last week.) We caught up with Richard Chai at his Soho studio to discuss his influences for fall, his love of cotton, jersey tees, and his strong dislike of too-skinny jeans.
What’s the inspiration behind your fall '09 collection?
For my women’s collection, I was inspired to create a message of strength and lightness. That translated into sharp tailoring, strong shoulders, and happy, joyous prints. For the menswear, the idea of workers' uniforms and formality inspired me. I looked at a lot of photos from August Sander. In general, though, I’m very inspired by the pulse and vibrancy of NYC.
What are some of your favorite pieces?
From women’s, I love the crinkled chiffon, galaxy-printed draped dresses and from men’s, any of the chunky cashmere zipper sweaters.
What type of person wears your clothes?
I think the men or women who wear my clothes have an appreciation for how clothes are made. They are not about trend-driven clothes. It’s about the purity of design and how that reflects in their personal, individual style.
What was the first designer item you bought or wore?
It was a Jean Paul Gaultier vest from Charivari. I was 14.
Who were some of your favorite designers growing up? What about now?
When I was a young design student I always admired the Japanese and Belgian designers, whom I still love today, along with many others.
Who are your style icons?
Tilda Swinton and Kurt Cobain.
Which labels do you love?
My personal style is laid-back and casual. Now that I have my own menswear line, I wear a lot of my collection mixed with other designers such as Rick Owens and Comme des Garçons.
Any pieces you can’t live without?
Muji lightweight, cotton-jersey tees are a staple in my wardrobe. I also wear white Polo V-neck tees that come in a three-pack. I overdye them in different colors when they aren’t stark-white anymore. For Topman, it was a fun challenge to take an iconic item like a white tee and interpret it into something new and fresh.
Where do you shop?
I shop at Odin. It always has an incredible selection of menswear and I also get a family discount!
Is there an item you are currently coveting?
I have my eye on a dresser from BDDW.
What trends are you into for this fall?
A stronger and more confident attitude, but with a sexy undercurrent.
Any trends you wish would just disappear?
What’s something everyone should have in their closet?
Finish this sentence: I never leave the house without ….
Saying good-bye to my dog.
Most Viewed Stories
Trump Campaign Manager Accidentally Refers to His ‘Abuse’ of Women on Live TV
It’s Finally Possible to Understand What Happened to Amanda Knox
The Very Uncomfortable Experience of Rewatching Election in 2016
Rob Kardashian and Blac Chyna Reportedly Broke Up
Ask a Boss: My Co-worker Wants Everyone to Call Her Boyfriend Her ‘Master’!
Ask Polly: Should I Try to Help My Alcoholic Friend?
Finally Someone Called Donald Trump a Giant Baby and It Was Michelle Obama
22 Intimate Lost Photos of Marilyn Monroe
Outrageous Party Photos From Andy Warhol’s Factory Days
Looks Like Kate Middleton Is Enjoying the View in Canada
From Our Partners
Who What Wear
powered by PubExchange
Latest News from The CutYour Zits Are Actually Keeping You Young
New research suggest they are nature’s anti-ager.Rihanna’s Paris Fashion Week Show Involved a Lot More Purple Satin Than Anyone Was Expecting
Pastels were a major theme.Looks Like Kate Middleton Is Enjoying the View in Canada
It’s a beautiful country!College Student Printed Out Her Roommate’s Subtweets and Posted Them in the Dorm in Today’s Best College Drama
She printed out every subtweet and posted them on a bulletin board.The Y Is Back in YSL, But Not Much Else Is Yet
Anthony Vaccarello’s debut collection falls back on label classics. Plus: Young Parisian designers experiment.Prince Married to Commoner Still Too Good to Tweet
Their 'first tweet' was not impressive.Finally Someone Called Donald Trump a Giant Baby and It Was Michelle Obama
It was inevitable.What’s Going to Happen to Angelina’s Jewelry From Brad?
She has quite a few personal pieces from Brad Pitt that might wind up on the auction block.Models at Margiela Looked Like Rainbow Brite Alien Angels
Cosplay for characters that haven’t been invented yet.Senate Approves Long-Delayed Zika-Funding Bill
The $1.1 billion measure is expected to pass the House later today.
“Campaign stress?”Emma Watson and Justin Trudeau Hold International Wokeness Summit
Rude of them to not invite the American delegate, Matt McGorry.Whoopi Goldberg on Vetements and Burning Bridges
The comedian is trading The View for a higher profile in the fashion world.This Gentle Mask Kills Zits Overnight
And it doesn’t stink.What Really Happens Backstage at the Shows
Runway beauty used to be pretty low-key. Now it’s one of the main events.Gary Johnson Calls in Supernatural Powers for Election Help
Melissa Joan Hart is the new Connecticut chair for the Gary Johnson campaign.Kim Kardashian Assaulted by the Same Guy Who Grabbed Gigi Hadid
He ran up and kissed her ass.The FDA Is Finally Going to Update the Term ‘Healthy’
Currently, foods that are low in fat but high in sugar can use it, which, no.Trump Campaign Manager Accidentally Refers to His ‘Abuse’ of Women on Live TV
Kellyanne Conway made a Freudian slip.Meet the Designer Who Launched a Hit Label From His Apartment
Talking to Atlein designer Antonin Tron about his unconventional debut.