We love military-inspired menswear because it’s a classic aesthetic that will always be in style and can be easily worked into any wardrobe. So when CADET came on the scene in 2011 with their first collection, nodding to the post-war military academy era, we jumped on board with their clean lines and traditional silhouettes. Proudly made in the USA, every step from design to production goes down in CADET’s Brooklyn factory. We caught up with Raul Arevalo and Brad Schmidt, the men behind the brand, to talk about their inspiration, producing stateside and what’s next for menswear.
When you founded CADET in 2011, you two were coming from very different backgrounds. What made you decide to put your talents together and start a fashion line?
Raul and I wanted to start our own business and wanted to leverage both our areas of expertise to make sure we knew what we were doing. I knew Raul had the creativity and fashion knowledge to design and make clothing. He had worked in fashion for 15+ years and also has a good eye for what looks good, from clothing to interior design. I came to the table with numerous years managing large scale implementations of software, so I understand how to organize the business through project planning, budgeting, etc. We knew we were bringing different things to the table and contrasting but necessary perspectives on starting a fashion line.
Raul, you are a master tailor and have worked with huge names in the business, from Target and Nordstrom to Sarah Jessica Parker and Venus Williams. What are the most important elements that go into perfecting fit across a line?
The fundamental is balance. If you have a garment where the pieces are fighting against each other to reach balance, it will be uncomfortable and won’t fit right. Everyone has had the experience of t-shirt riding back where you feel the need to constantly pull it forward – that is a balance and thus a fit issue.
CADET is entirely designed and manufactured in your factory in Bushwick, Brooklyn. It seems the decision to make in America is an easy one, but the follow through can be difficult. Have you run into any complications producing everything domestically or do you think it makes things easier for you as a brand?
I think there are pros and cons to all business models. We are able to control our production completely, including the quality, delivery dates, ability to replenish within weeks and we don’t have to meet minimums on anything. But we also have the responsibility of running a factory. As a business, we are a manufacturer, a brand and a retailer. It is a lot to juggle.
CADET is inspired by the post-war military academy era, a utilitarian, versatile look that will always be in style. Along with your impeccably tailored outerwear, the spring ’15 line included a lot of sport-forward details and joggers that have been popular as of late. Do you think this relaxed but polished aesthetic is here to stay in menswear?
Our Aviator Pant is inspired by vintage Air Force paratrooper pants. This has become one of our signature items and will always remain in the collection in some form. I think there are trends in fashion where fits go more relaxed and then become fitted again. Right now, we are going through a period where garments are more oversized. For CADET, we want to to stay true to elements of military heritage without making a huge left turn to follow a trend. Our customers are a big influence on us. We listen to what they are saying but also bring them along with us when we develop new styles.
To learn more about CADET and shop their collections, visit cadetusa.com.
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