Emotion is the base of many things in life.
It drives friendship, it leads relationships, it fuels creativity.
Most of the times it’s emotion that takes you to places in life you didn’t expect to get to, career-wise and so on.
Emotion is what inspires Jenny and Esther when they get together to pop out the new collection for Gauntlett Cheng, their eponymous brand.
Based out of New York, the two former fellow interns turn to friends when it comes to driving the parts of the business they don’t have time for (no matter the success of their brand, they still hold day jobs) and what could go wrong when the right vibes? Nothing.
In fact Gauntlett Cheng is set to take over the business one show at a time, creating the perfect environment to compliment the garments starting from the location ending the the tunes.
Learn more about the girls behind the brand here below.
Naomi. Hello both. Let’s start by giving us a little background on who Esther and Jenny are. Where are you from, where and how did you meet?
Gauntlett Cheng. Esther is from Perth, on the west coast of Australia, and Jenny is from Long Island, NY. We met while we were interning at Eckhaus Latta. We started making some clothes together in Jenny’s studio, and decided to have a show in September 2014 with our friend Patric, who has a label called Vaquera.
N. You mentioned you both have day jobs. Managing a fashion brand is a lot. Why and when did you feel the need to start your own brand? Is it difficult to juggle everything and manage to survive in New York City?
GC. Absolutely. We never really set out to start a label, and had we sat down and thought about everything logistically, we probably wouldn’t. But we’re so thankful for our naivety, because we love doing this so much. The interest we got from our first season propelled us to do a second, and then all of a sudden you’re deep in the fashion calendar. The pace of fashion can obviously be exhausting but it’s also exhilarating, and incredibly motivational. You’re forced to assess your own world twice a year and come up with something that responds honestly to it.
N. How are the roles within the two divided?
GC. It’s very collaborative in terms of talking about ideas and sketching pieces, but we have pretty distinct skill sets. Esther works on cut and sew pieces, and Jenny does the knitwear. Every season we have an amazing team of people working together to make the show happen, and to make the label happen. Some of them are in fashion and most are just friends and artists. We work with Akeem Smith on styling, Joseph Geagan on casting the show, Evan and Andre Lenox on PR, and Matthew Tsang and Daniel Hirunrusme on graphic design.
N. Your brand is inspired by how you feel and your current emotional state at that very moment. I can see that in your Spring Summer 2017 collection. The pieces are very strong and more of a statement and expression of self more than just a standard garment. As creative people, you must have all kind of mixed feelings all the time. With that said, how does emotion influence your creative process and how do you concretize your feelings into textiles?
GC. The clothes absolutely reflect what we’re feeling when we’re making them, and the collection comes out as an almost ‘wardrobe’ for current emotional states. Sometimes that embraces a fantasy that feels very foreign to our lives, and sometimes it resembles what we’re going through on an everyday basis. In retrospect, the collections seem to alternate between expressing that fantasy and desire and exploring our anxieties a lot closer to home.
N. From what I can see, your brand is “for everybody”. Meaning it is not targeted to men or women. It is very gender neutral and careless. Obviously society is more and more unshackling from gender boxes and overall self-righteous concepts, and living in a city like New York allows you to be exposed to this new state of freedom (or almost). Do you feel like New York inspires you and drives your creativity applied to your clothes?
GC. We try and step back from conversations about gender, and instead let our models choose clothes that really resonate with them. New York is a constant source of inspiration and frustration for us, and everything we make relates back to the city in some way. We still produce and source everything here.
N. The locations where you show your collections are really specific and unique, almost like the setting of the showcase is part of the collection itself. Is that the case? Is the setting an extension of the concept materialized as space?
GC. We definitely consider the show to be an integral part of the collection, everything only truly makes sense in the space, with the models, with the styling, music etc. A fashion show is so unique in its pace, it’s an incredible and also difficult to compress so much into just a few minutes. Everything has to be there for a reason, and contribute to how someone would feel viewing it. For our last season, we showed on The Harbour Lights, a 300 person boat docked on the East River. We played Never Tear Us Apart by INXS and the show took place at sunset. It was beautiful but very cheesy in a way that reminded us of a corporate booze cruise, and the garments looked like someone was attending in last night’s outfit they had desperately tried to make appropriate for it.
N. Now looking more into detail at the garments… In all of your collections there’s a heavy usage of knitwear. Obviously this ties back to your knitting expertise and background. The rest of the materials seem pretty light and frivolous (e.g silk).. does material have an important role in the collection? Is the contract between knitwear and kind of flimsy textiles voluntary?
GC. Our collections tend to always have a contrast of fabrics, and that attention to materiality is pretty important to what we do. We always start a collection by sourcing fabrics and yarns, and we design from there.
N. Last but not least, what’s your biggest 90’s inspiration that influences your daily life and profession?
GC. Prada and Gaultier
All images by Yulya Shadrinksky, courtesy of Gauntlett Cheng
Discover Gauntlett Cheng here www.gauntlett-cheng.myshopify.com