Marketing, traffic, topics, spoofs… These are the words that surround the Newtown street brand Chinatown Market, so it is inevitable that people will be suspicious. Where is this brand?
Chinatown Market, the brand name is a “up-and-coming star” that extends from the piracy culture of Chinatown, and has a path of fame that is quite different from other emerging street brands. In less than three years, the name and its iconic Smiley Face have already invaded the vision of the entire trend. From T-Shirts, which spoofed Prada, Ralph Laurent, COMME des GARÇONS, etc., and Pleasures jointly launched the spoof IKEA shopping bag caps, and the lawn slippers with Crocs… Everything from Chinatown Market seems to be Not too “decent”, but every time I earned enough attention.
Taking simple and rude graphic design and spoofing elements as the entrance is a “customary trick” for street brands, and in addition to this trick for easier eye-catching, Chinatown Market is playing a more important role in online marketing. Good card. Remember the pair of Nike x Converse sneakers that LeBron James had on the NBA field last year? Joined the Nike Swoosh Logo on Converse’s classic Chuck 70, and later received a paper “infringement lawsuit” from the NBA official. It was raging on social media and was finally exposed as a “marketing” by Chinatown Market. Farce”
But these spoof designs at Chinatown Market are not entirely handy. In addition to how to introduce fun spoofs and Bootleg designs, the brand is constantly researching novel fabrics and printing textile technologies, as well as creative means such as inkjet guns and UV light to DIY T-Shirts and shoes.
Since its inception, Chinatown Market has always run through a spoofed entertaining spirit. This can’t help but be curious. Is Michael Cherman, the brand’s manager, privately so humorous? By the opportunity of the Chinatown Market to enter the YOHOOD 2019 trend carnival, NOWRE had a meeting with Michael. After talking about the laughter, I found out that this is indeed the case. However, in addition to the innate sense of entertainment, what we see in him is more clear idea of brand positioning. After that, our understanding of the Chinatown Market (and Bootleg) seems to have added another layer…
“Listing for a half-day to buy a Supreme and then worshipping it, this is not what Chinatown Market thinks.”
Chinatown Market has only been established in less than three years, and now the results are quite crazy. What do you feel about yourself?
My previous personal brand, ICNY, can be said to be a learning process. It was the first time I built a brand and tried a lot of things I had never done before. With these experiences, I applied what I have learned to the Chinatown Market, so I am more comfortable. Since the establishment of this brand, I basically don’t go out to play, and I don’t participate in any party. I just keep working. But I enjoy this process very much, I think I may still insist on doing this for the rest of my life. I think this may be one of the reasons for success. I am just very focused on doing this.
Whether it is ICNY or your earlier work experience, it seems to be very different from what Chinatown Market is doing now. What is the difference between them?
Previously, ICNY did sportswear, mainly for running and cycling, and my role at Chinatown Market was more like a mobile graphic designer. I also provided ideas for many other brands. Whether it’s a crazy Puffer Jacket, a basketball, or a table tennis table… I can do anything as long as I think, and I can do ten things at a time, because the overall concept of the Chinatown Market brand is openness and creativity.
It has always been a matter of street branding to use Graphic T-Shirt and spoof elements to embody aesthetic taste. In such a similar direction, what do you think is different between your brand and other street brands?
I think that one of the big differences between us and other street brands is that we will show up whether it is failure or success. We record the whole process of brand operation. For example, most brands will only know the leader, but we are not. We will let everyone know how many people work together and how their respective divisions are. Another point is that we have always wanted to provide a platform for young creative talents to give them the opportunity to showcase their talents. Our brand attitude is very inclusive. For example, when you go to Supreme, you waited for a long time to buy a T-Shirt, and then worship it as a belief… This is not what we think. We hope to have interaction and dialogue with everyone, just like a friend. Everyone spends so much money on clothes, so why can’t the clothing brand be reversed and friendly, maybe even teach you something?
“To do Bootleg is not to make money. How to teach consumers to broaden their creativity and vision is the meaning of it.”
For a brand, relying on traffic and marketing to achieve higher consumption conversion rate does apply in the current era of the Internet, but it is also a very risky thing. Have you worried that the public will not buy it?
My attitude is that if you like it, you like it. If you don’t like it, you can buy other brands. I think people who know us will naturally understand our creativity and the way we work. Just like Bootleg, we don’t use this thing to make money. More is to encourage young consumers and tell them that you can do it. For example, we made the spoof Nike x Converse not to sell to make money, but really hope that consumers can understand that they can buy a pair of Converse and DIY themselves – teach consumers to broaden their creativity and Eyes, I think this is the meaning.
Although the Bootleg culture is very popular in the past two years, many people will question their value. What do you think is its value?
There are two types of Bootleg, one is to make a complete copy or fake, and the other is to create something that does not exist. For example, you can create a T-Shirt or a pair of shoes that a big clothing company will never produce. Like our Nike x Converse, those shoes will never exist on the market, and Nike will not make a pair of Converse (Logo) shoes, which I think is interesting. But if you want to make a fake Louis Vuitton bag, then it’s just a replica, it’s not cool.
However, the brand has also encountered some infringement problems so far. What do you think of this?
We don’t try to sell oil by selling Bootleg, so we don’t actually encounter problems that really touch the law. We just take this as fun to play. If you are making a lot of money through Bootleg in a very malicious way, you will definitely have a lot of trouble.
“In the past month, we have released a new T-Shirt almost every day.”
You have mentioned many times that Chinatown Market is a “built on speed” brand, but most people still think that a slow-working craftsmanship like a Japanese brand is a good design concept. Based on “built on speed” does it also mean to abandon what?
I think that as long as you are prepared, as long as you have a good infrastructure, you can do it. Chinatown Market has always wanted to provide value to consumers, we provide customers with the best quality T-Shirt at a favorable price. Our output is indeed very fast, but only because we have full creativity and a steady stream of new ideas. If I see the fabric I like, I have probably figured out what I want to do in a T-Shirt, a basketball or a jacket, then I will do it right away. If I can make these ideas appear in the warehouse and sell them within 15 to 20 days, why don’t I do this? But at the same time, I will never give up quality. For example, our basketball is very good. It is definitely not just a cheap rubber basketball.
Today’s social network is very speedy. One thing, one design, one brand or one nameless person may also become famous overnight in just a few minutes. Does “built on speed” have a similar meaning?
Social networks give us more room to be creative and react to some of the most important moments in popular culture. So if there is a major event or a news on a certain day, we can launch a brand new T-Shirt tomorrow. For example, the recent big red rapper Lil Nas X, you know that his song is red, Cowboy style has become popular, then I can make a similar western wind T-Shirt the next day, this is the reason. .
You have said that to some extent, it is very doubtful about the high-priced luxury brands. Nowadays, these brands are embracing the phenomenon of street culture. Do you think it confirms your previous statement?
Yes, I did say this. I just think that sometimes these brands are a bit too closed. I think it is a great pleasure for young people to participate in these products while they are enjoying them. I certainly think that luxury brands have some very interesting things, but I would rather buy Japanese handmade products because they are more comprehensive and well thought out, which is much better than buying a GUCCI bag because I think at least You know more about the story, but you never know what a story is in a GUCCI bag. Of course, I admit that these luxury brands have a long history of fashion houses, but you won’t know the process of creating a product. You will only see the amazing price tag on an item, but you won’t know what’s going on.
Now that you have a lot of co-branded cooperation, what brand is you will not cooperate?
I think it must be consistent with our ethical standards and goals. Maybe a big company like Wal-Mart will not want to cooperate. But I also believe that if your product can reach millions of people, especially the consumer groups that have never been exposed before, it is a good thing. So as long as the other party is the right company and there are sufficient reasons for cooperation, I will not resist it. I certainly hope that I can become a designer accepted by people all over the world.
Many times people are very afraid to show their creativity generously because they always want to behave coolly. But I think that “cool” can’t last forever. I think it’s even cooler to let people interact and interact with your creativity better. So if one day, I can build a big company and sell my goods to large chains all over the US and even overseas. I think this may mean that I am successful. But then again, even if it is just a small company, my creativity should not be limited to this.
Last but not least, is Chinatown Market considering a seasonal celebrity dresses line?
When we want to work with large retail stores like Lane Crawford and Urban Outfitters, we naturally have to launch products on a quarterly basis. But I don’t think this will affect our ability to produce new products. In the past month, we have released a new T-Shirt almost every day, which I think reflects our infinite creativity and imagination.
Unlike other brand owners, Michael Cherman’s role in Chinatown Market is more like an autocratic graphic designer who brings the entire industry chain and expresses his ideas while earning earned a lot.
Despite the numerous controversies surrounding the Bootleg culture, there are also questions about the high commercial operation of a T-Shirt almost every day. But as Michael said, you can’t take care of everyone… In addition, the growing momentum of Chinatown Market is enough to prove its existence, at least in this era.
Conversely thinking, a T-Shirt every day is actually not an easy task, right?