The name Chinatown Market might have you assumed that this brand is from or has something related to China, but it’s not. Chinatown Market is the brainchild of the U.S designer Michael Cherman, and it was born out of Los Angeles. Before he started the label in late 2016, Cherman was rolling in the fashion industry, making his name ever since 2012 with ICNY.
Founder of Chinatown Market – Michael Cherman (image by Graham Walzer)
Cherman used to work as a design assistant for Nike Bowery Stadium back in New York. Later, he became a freelance-designer in cooperating with the boutique KITH of Ronnie Fieg. In 2012, he founded ICNY, a brand born of necessity that adds safety reflective details on casual attire. ICNY was once his success, allow him to collaborate with names like Puma, Staple Design, and Jason Markk. But things went wrong as he got “tricked” by an investor, causing him to lose control of his brand.
Mike Cherman at his ICNY Store (image via The Source)
His dark days turned a bit brighter when Cherman left New York and moved to Los Angeles, where he decided to build up his new idea of “Chinatown Market.” The inspiration is purely based on the one-time bootleg capital – New York’s Canal Street, with a twist of New York’s vibe culture. Unlike ICNY, Cherman wanted to go further with Chinatown Market. He exploited the hype-fuelled streetwear market, taking ideas from whatever he can, starting with bootleg pop culture references and later on, trends. To be able to release the products as fast as a trend comes and goes, Chinatown Market has its production line directly built-in to reduce production time, compare to other overseas factories. Imagine bringing up an idea at 7 a.m, putting it online by noon, and finish by production by 7 p.m. All pieces are ready to ship worldwide in the next morning. For Cherman, Chinatown Market is the antithesis of exclusivity. Unlike other labels that release products through their channels, he has instead chosen to embrace wide-reaching retail support for Chinatown Market to its full potential.
Mike Cherman working on his customer’s order(image via Christina Choi)
Some of the designs from Chinatown Market Fall 2016 Collection (image by Alexander Bortz)
As you might have seen, almost every single piece of Chinatown Market will have the iconic Smiley Face emblazoned on as a part of the deal between Chinatown Market & SmileyWorld. Also for Cherman, the Smiley Face has become an inevitable detail in his life. Through his ups and downs, the 29-year-old designer is finally able to control his smiles and cries, just like a favorite quote of him, taken from the movie Training Day: “You gotta control your smiles and cries, because that’s all you have and nobody can take that away from you” – Ethan Hawke.
A quick fact: Some of the first Chinatown Market which contains the Smiley Face logo was once considered “violated” and was forced to stop production. Luckily Chinatown Market and SmileyWorld had found a way to sort it out and got to a point of a win-win situation.
Chinatown Market is now available at There VND Then.