“Made in America” is a tagline that can inspire patriotism or shouts of global exclusion. After talking to Brad Schmidt, Chief Everything Officer—his term—for New York-based retailer Cadet, I came up with a more unique label that I think will only induce sentimental sighs of everything we love about New York—“Made in Brooklyn.”
One of the most unique clothing and accessories stores in the city, Cadet’s aim is to recapture the entrepreneurial America of the 1950s and 1960s, honoring classic lines and looks and relying on a work force that is as American as the design.
“We are completely vertical, we do everything ourselves,” says Schmidt, who’s been running the company with his partner, Raul Arevalo, for a little over two years. Heck, the guys even live in Brooklyn. “Pattern, production, we do all the pieces, which is highly unusual. We don’t send it overseas to have it produced. We have a studio/factory space [in Brooklyn] and a bunch of sewing machines and rolls of fabrics.”
Lest you think Schmidt is just a guy who digs sewing and thought, “what the hell,” his resume is a who’s “hue” of fashion. Starting at Abercrombie & Fitch, he went on to design for Target, Nordstrom, American Eagle, and Club Monaco, among others. Recently, he worked with Sarah Jessica Parker to help her develop her clothing line.
Cadet owns three stores, two of which are in Manhattan, the third in… do I really have to tell you? And their products are inspired by the look of the post World War II-military academy era, a period of time often romanticized and never out of style. Browsing through their clothing line I am half-tempted to salute or venture out on my yacht. Blazers, shorts, sweat shirts, outerwear, all in hues that are calm and soft-spoken. “Everything in our store has crossed by our hands at some point,” adds Schmidt, on the personal touch.
“Our signature item is the vintage air force pant. We modernized the fit, woven pant with cuffed bottom, a bridge fly that snaps at the top and has an angel. It’s an aviator pant.
“We approach design from a technical perspective. We know what construction of garments is possible or what just doesn’t make sense. We are able to add construction details that are unique to our brand but also adhere to a military academy aesthetic.”
Cadet has ten people working at their stores, and five more in the factory. “We work with other local designers to make their patterns. Most of the contacts we make are word-of-mouth and some of the work comes from contacts in the industry.”
This year, they introduced their first third-party product, Hudson Made’s Beard & Shave Soap. “Part of our mission is to develop our own line, but we needed to have third parties that have a local, unique element to them,” says Schmidt. “We didn’t want to carry something that everyone else has.”
As for the new product, “I liked that it was a soap and a shave. You can use it as body soap as well. It’s the fragrance, it’s the packaging.”
Cadet is among a growing trend of retailers who are committed to partnering with like-minded small businesses. While some may set geographical boundaries for the items featured in their stores, others are searching globally for like-minded entrepreneurs who are committed to responsible business practices and high-quality products. Hudson Made is crossing borders and is now available in nine states and eight countries worldwide.
But after a shopping spree at Cadet’s 14th Street location, all of a sudden I’m feeling the need to watch fireworks and eat hot dogs. Right after a nice soap and shave.
|Beard And Shave Soap Trio||Joshua Vela Navy Waxed Duffle||Hudson Made Bandana|