I had the privilege of meeting a very talented up and coming Chicago fashion designer, Harrison Luckett, through a dear friend over a few social outings! I immediately noticed his chic and dapper appearance and an amazingly outgoing personality. Our last meeting involved Halloween party hopping through Logan Square and Wicker Park and a brief conversation about starting a fashion line.
Harrison is a 28-year-old Chicagoan by way of Mississippi. Fascinated by sewing and creating at a young age from his Grandmother in Mississippi, he landed himself in Chicago to attend Academy of Design, Chicago. It was there that he created a life and met his future (now current) business partner. They currently co-run Cheairs between Chicago, Connecticut, and NYC. A core inspiration for Cheairs is cinema and the dashing ladies on the screen; so much so that their patterns are born from layering stills upon stills of scenes from movies! A truly unique approach to the fashion world will surely earn them equally unique and unprecedented success!
CBS: How did fashion come into your life?
Harrison Luckett: I’ve always had a fascination with clothing and style and the idea of creating clothing. My grandmother is an amazing seamstress (a hobby!) and I can remember her making clothing for all of my girl cousins (with the occasional something for the boys) but I remember being super jealous and wanting to be a part of what she was doing. I remember sketching at an early age, but didn’t really learn to sew until I was a teenager.
What is currently exciting you about Fall 2011 fashion?
I’m excited, in general, about LAYERING in Fall Fashion. I love layers, they add dimension to a look. I wear layers in the summer too! For men, I love that camel and browns are going to be big trends — pair them with bright stripes and an oxford, HOT — or go a casual route and get a bit sporty with a camel coat layer over a plaid button down and a sweatshirt . For the ladies, I’m really looking forward to bold winter prints and vivid color blocking! It’s so easy for women to throw together a chic winter look with grays and black, but I look forward to a bright spot of color, that isn’t just an accessory!
What are some of your favorite shoppes in Chicago?
There are soooo many great stores here. For inspiration: Ikram, Blake, Robin Richman. For Practicality with great detail: Penelopes, Apartment Number 9, Una Mae’s. Vintage: Land of the Lost, Kokorokoko, Shangri La Vintage.
What do you love about Chicago fashion?
I like that this city has a little of everything — Art kids who aren’t afraid to take risks, The ladies who lunch in the latest, The regal older society ladies –- all of it.
What is your least favorite trend of all times? Favorite?
I don’t really have a fav trend. Trends are disposable. I put more energy behind things that will last. Don’t get me wrong, trends can be fun, but I’d rather see the risk taker, than the sea of followers.
If you were to be stuck on an island (for a year), what pieces of your wardrobe would you bring?
hmmm…. I live in a black t-shirt and jeans (and dark grey cardigan) – a total uniform that can easily be added to. As much as I love fashion and style and following what mags love, I’m not really a shopper. Shopping these days feels more like research then fun. If I’m buying items to update my look, I’m usually investing in new glasses! I have 6 different pairs in rotation at the moment.
What’s your best advice to give someone who is trying to build a fashion forward wardrobe on a small budget?
Always start with the basics. Invest in a few key items that are completely form flattering and spend your cash on accessories of the moment (and a good cut and color!!). You can keep your outfit forward yet simple and you will be complimented. On a budget, invest in the first thing people notice – your hair! I don’t care how great you’ve thrown together a look, if your hair and makeup look unkempt, you’ve blown all your work.
Do you integrate your love of fashion or your fashion philosophies into any other areas/interests in your life?
Yes! I live in the frame of mind that quality is everything: in clothes, music, food, and especially PEOPLE.
What are some of your favorite designers and labels? Who is your fashion icon?
Love many: Muiccia Prada, Ghesquiere, Lagerfeld, Vivian Westwood (and the kids she inspired like Mcqueen). Icon is a tough word – I feel admiration of work is much smarter then the idolization of the people behind it. People will let you down, but the work generally stands for itself. Don’t get me wrong, I would lose my breath if I encountered several designers, but I’d rather swoon at their creation in the end.
Do you have a timeless fashion philosophy and if so what is it?
Age appropriate and comfort will make every ensemble you develop look effortless. I will never leave the house, or allow anyone I help dress, feeling uncomfortable. Even if the look is perfect, if you aren’t at ease, it will show, and then the look is a bust.
What is the name of your fashion line?
Cheairs (pronounced like Chairs).
How did the name and the vision of the line come about?
Cheairs is my middle name. It comes from the last name of a dear friend of my parents.
Is your line Chicago based? Nation-wide? International?
We are based out of Farmington, CT (I have a business partner), but we sell out of NYC and are manufactured in Chicago. We are currently sold nationally only.
What are you currently working on in regards to your line today?
Fall 2011 Orders are all out! And we just wrapped up Spring 2012 samples that are for sales now.
What are your hopes and dreams for the line?
Build the line slowly, maintaining control of our product quality and placement. And maybe incorporate menswear at some point.
What is the style and inspiration for your current line?
Fall 2011 was inspired by the movie The Piano — utilizing silhouettes from the 1860s and the 1990s — borrowing a color palette from the 70s. We develop on printed fabric — so the collection is print heavy mixed with beautiful textures (like velvet that’s been painted or burn-out).
What is the most rewarding experiences having your own line? And what has proven to be the most difficult or unexpected experiences having your own line?
Owning your own business is never easy – owning your own line is WORK! The glamour left the building a long time ago – it’s about dedication to your product and your brand image. Rewards are always the little things – seeing your first season’s samples, your first piece of press, seeing your first order complete and labeled and tagged and boxed. The most difficult aspect is just how much you have to rely on other people’s time and schedule. As a company made of go-getters, nothing drives us more crazy then waiting around on a return phone call, or email response, answers to questions you need before you can proceed with certain aspects of a project – especially when you feel like you’re a little ahead.
Who is the woman that is wearing your clothes?
We try to make beautiful garments that most women can wear – updated basics that beautifully mix and match into any wardrobe. Our inspiration girl is always the awkward beauty.
Where can we find your clothing for purchase?
Our showroom in NY sells wholesale to trade only. The current collection is found in Dallas, Texas at Elements Boutique. Currently working with a company regarding potential online sales, but the deal hasn’t been completely hammered out yet.
What’s next for Spring 2012 for your line?
Our spring 2012 Collection is very ’60s, utilizing Rosemary’s Baby as inspiration.
Finally any advice or philosophy for individuals starting their own line?
Be prepared for the ups and downs. It’s not easy. Also, don’t let someone else’s panic make you crazy. It’s a fast paced, ever changing world, but you must stay focused.