I met Richard Chai the other day. He really pissed me off that he wasn’t doing his own collection when I had my showroom. He is just the type of designer that I love to work with – smart, talented, and able (and willing) to talk about subjects other than fashion. Actually, one of the first things we talked about is why he has never really been grouped with the Behnaz/Som/Lam clique, even though they all started about the same time and would hang next to each other in stores. We agreed that it is his very refined aesthetic smashed up against a strong downtown attitude that gives him a unique position in the New York young designer hierarchy. I thought the bike in the corner that he rides to work each day was so representative of the lack of preciousness about his work.
I described him as smart earlier, why do I say smart? He knew that I was there to talk about is work with the new Onward Kashiyama store/brand Nave. Well ,of course, I kept getting off-subject as we compared notes on similar experiences working with Kashiyama (I was there in the 90′s), the challenges of beginning a company, and growing up in New York but somehow he kept working Nave into his answers – smart.
Richard had to leave for Korea the morning after we met so I gave him an edited list of the questions that you ,the readers, emailed to me. As soon as he returns I will be posting his responses.