Created by art school drop out Mike Cherman, CHINATOWN MARKET is inspired by New York’s infamous Canal Street, popular culture and an attitude that doesn’t take fashion too seriously. Prior to CHINATOWN MARKET, Cherman built label ICNY, which spawned from a cycling accident a few years ago. He was focused on making the rider visible whilst also embracing the technicalities in performance through fashion earned from his time working for Nike Stadium.
At our JUICE Tsim Sha Tsui Pop Up earlier this year in collaboration with PLEASURES, friends of Cherman including Vlad Elkin and Alex James - the duo behind PLEASURES also came to Hong Kong to present their artwork and collections. Half a year later, CHINATOWN MARKET is one of our best sellers with their fun graphics and cheeky prints are often a favourite amongst our customers. Always ahead of the game, Cherman acts extremely fast upon what’s trending on the cybersphere; see viral PLEASURES x CHINATOWN MARKET IKEA cap. Check out our latest interview with Cherman below.
"JUST DO IT AND DON’T QUESTION YOURSELF TOO MUCH, FAILING IS A PART OF GETTING BETTER"
From Parsons, Nike Bowery Stadium, ICNY and your involvement with other streetwear labels to CHINATOWN MARKET, can you tell us a bit about how you got to where you are now?
CHERMAN: Getting to where I am now all stems from my original interest in graphic t-shirts and making apparel. Being raised by two fashion industry parents I never really took it seriously as a kid but once I entered High School and really began to define my personal style I got very into producing my own apparel. I started off selling t-shirts out of the back of my car after school as a kid, progressively moving from there to go to New York to attend parsons university. After dropping out of college I worked with Nike for 3 years at their Bowery Stadium concept shop which opened my eyes to really making my own custom apparel, 1 off’s and more. This allowed me the ability to make my own reflective wear while at work which birthed ICNY after many bike accidents. All this learning, brand building and curiosity has lead to me starting Chinatown Market, a brand inspired by what I love most about NY, its grittiness and bootleg culture.
How does the spirit of Canal St inspire CHINATOWN MARKET?
CHERMAIN: Canal St. was always the home of bootleg culture to me as a kid. From buying bootleg Rolex’s to fake wallets with friends I always had a love for Canal St. New York. There was a t-shirt that always stuck with my founding partner Alexander Bortz in the “fuck you you fucking fuck” t-shirt we based the whole brand around. The brand really started off as a joke and spawned into something bigger.
While you have other projects going on, is CHINATOWN MARKET a creative outlet for you? Where do you see CHINATOWN MARKET in say 5 years, especially with the freedom that may come with a smaller brand versus the reach you may get by growing into something bigger?
CHERMAN: Chinatown Market is my ability to release graphics, ideas and concepts freely without the pressures of a normal fashion schedule. In 5 years I really look to expand my business acumen and knowledge to allow me to excel past just creating brands. My goal is to look at what is the next step in the process, everyone has figured out how to design and produce good stuff, there will be a next evolution and I’m looking to get ahead of the curve.
"I like to create my own rules"
It was great having CHINATOWN MARKET and PLEASURES at our JUICE Tsim Sha Tsui Pop-Up earlier in the year during Art Basel. Are there any upcoming collaborations or exciting things that you can share with us about?
CHERMAIN: We have a few collaborations in the works but currently can’t share anything upcoming!
Favourite album/artist/film you've been into recently?
Favorite Film: Brigsby Bear
Artist: Ross From Friends (Search his name on Spotify)
What are some things you love about Hong Kong?
CHERMAN: I love the food, the subway system, the culture, the fact that you can climb a mountain and be in a massive urban city all in the same place.
What keeps you motivated to keep creating?
CHERMAN: I could never work for someone, I like to create my own rules.
What is style to you?
CHERMAN: Style is being yourself no matter what is going on around you.
Finally, what advice do you have for people out there who want to start their own thing?
CHERMAN: JUST DO IT AND DON’T QUESTION YOURSELF TOO MUCH, FAILING IS A PART OF GETTING BETTER.