This month Baby & Company will be hosting a trunk show for Seattle-based designer Suk Chai. Her line SCHAI (pronounced Shay) although only a few years old has exercised to perfection a recognizable aesthetic language that plays out in luxurious fabrics and feminine, structural volumes. Last fall’s jewel-tones were accented by light, dusty pinks that appeared as fresh and as subtle as the flush of budding romance. This spring she has introduced pool-blue, deep navy and a distinct acidic yellow to her palette in silk (with a stretch) and feather-weight leather. Again she brought softness and femininity in fluid dresses and an ivory cotton/silk blend manages to be just the right amount of subversive in her semi-transparent belted Ultime Shirt Dress and Polygon Tunic styles. Ivory, not often seen in modern pieces where bright white is the rage, manages to be the perfect neutral shade to flatter a variety of skin tones and situations as befits the modern woman.
In preparation for SCHAI's trunk show at Baby & Company this Friday, May 29th - Saturday, May 30th, Suk was kind enough to answer some questions about her line. Please read below to find out what the veteran designer has to say about her design process for her eponymous line.
Jill Donnelly: Fall 2015 will be your 3rd collection. What have you learned most about yourself from the 1st collection to this 3rd collection?
Suk Chai: To trust your instincts. Oh, and patience, a lot of it. I’ve also learned that things do and/or don’t happen for a reason, and I just need to be patient through that process. Until the dust settles, do what I do best. For example… Although I’ve been designing for over 20 years, the brand, SCHAI is only at it’s 2nd year. It’s not easy for any retailer to “bank on” an emerging designer even if they absolutely love the collection. In the beginning, everyday I had either a great editor or buyer loving the collection, but I realized quickly that doesn’t mean it will equal to orders or placement in the magazines. I learned to respect how each retailer carefully curates designer products and how each editor will have to pick one image or story out of hundreds or thousands for an editorial.
JD: What does it take to be a small independent designer? Tell us about the advantages and the disadvantages.
SC: I love being able to create my own schedule, my own deadlines (based on the overall fashion calendar). That’s the best part! But of course, it comes with also 24/7 responsibility and accountability. I am the CEO, Designer, Merchandiser, Production Planner, Technical Designer, Colorist, Fabric Coordinator, AND I am also the Janitor. I miss the synergy of a team. And I am yet to be paid. LOL.
JD: How has living in the NW informed your design process and inspiration?
SC: The rich colors and textures. It’s a little misty, a little mysterious and gloomy. Dark forest greens and blues, crisp air… I really love all that. In addition to this, the architectural changes have been quite amazing. The use of raw materials, refurbished materials with steel, glass, and fusing them with the highest technology that becomes environmentally friendly. It’s hard to see other cities blend the nature + future so well. Culture of PNW is non-pretentious and intellectual. I feel that is the biggest influence in the collection.
JD: Who are your favorite designers and why?
SC: Haider Ackermann. Amazing technical ability, timeless silhouettes and lines, impeccable quality and he is also a very confident, intellectual designer who doesn’t like being in the limelight. Truth is, I love designers with huge menswear influence.
JD: What advice do you have for people who are interested in starting their own line?
SC: Wait. Build a business plan. When you think you have the budget calculated, multiply that by three. It’s not just about an idea. It’s all about execution and communication.
Join us for a SCHAI Trunk Show this week at Baby & Company to meet Suk and see her beautiful line in person, Friday and Saturday, May 29th and 30th. Shop SCHAI's SS15 collection and preview pieces from her Autumn / Winter 2015 line. We hope to see you there!
AW15 collection previews—