Fashion is an industry that relies on the ingenuity and passion of designers to push the boundaries of clothing and accessories. However, its role is much more influential than simply setting trends for style. Instead, fashion is an arena in which art, clothing, and profound messages all collide. It can help society move forward not only in its clothing, but also in values like inclusiveness, creativity, and expressiveness.
One brand that is at the forefront of cutting edge fashion is Chromat. This company, founded in 2010, is renowned for its innovative structural and angular clothing. While many of its most famous pieces are shown on runways, it also offers swimwear, lingerie, and activewear in its unique style. Chromat is known for its black clothing which features designs based on the structure of the human body.
The founder and lead designer of Chromat is Becca McCharen. While her brand has garnered a significant amount of attention and praise, she prefers to work behind the scenes, innovating and finding new ways to create empowering clothing. For this reason, many people are unaware of McCharen’s background and how it has influenced the wildly popular Chromat brand. She is one of the most inspiring figures in the fashion industry today. Here are ten of the most interesting facts about Becca McCharen.
10. She has earned great praise for her work
Although many people are more familiar with the Chromat brand than the designer behind it, Becca McCharen has received a fair share of praise as well. Perhaps most notably, she was included in the Forbes’ “30 Under 30” list for art and style as a designer who is making a significant impact. As well, the New York Observer placed her on their “12 To Watch” list. Her brand has also received many awards and distinctions.
9. She originally planned on becoming an architect
Although it may seem odd to imagine McCharen in any other industry than fashion, she did not originally intend to design clothing. Instead, she pursued a career in architecture. She even graduated from the University of Virginia School of Architecture in 2006. Her experience in architecture informs the structurally-based style of clothing that Chromat is famous for. Luckily for the fashion world, she ultimately decided to pursue design.
8. Her experience with clothing began at school
It seems that the stars aligned to bring McCharen into the fashion industry. Although she was studying architecture at the time, the designer took up sewing while in university. She eventually landed a job as the seamstress for the school’s Department of Drama. While this may not have seemed like a pivotal moment in her life, this early experience working with clothing was undoubtedly an important step towards becoming the esteemed designer she is today.
7. She worked in El Salvador
Although the fashion industry is commonly associated with places like New York, Paris, Milan, and London, this respected designer spent time working in El Salvador. She actually worked as a member of the Peace Corps during this time. Unfortunately, she ended up contracting dengue fever during this period of her life.
6. She worked construction
If one thing is certain about McCharen, it is that her background is eclectic. Not only does she have experience in architecture, urban planning, and working in the Peace Corps, she was also a construction worker. While this may not appear to be relevant to her fashion career, it may have actually been one of the most important developments in her career.
McCharen has stated that she was often the only woman working on a construction project. Naturally, she heard many denigrating comments about how incapable she was to perform this traditionally male job. This type of experience has motivated McCharen’s design, which seeks to empower every individual.
5. Her initial fashion experience was a hobby
It may seem surprising that the founder of a brand such as Chromat did not immediately make waves in the fashion industry, but McCharen’s first experience was only part time. In fact, it was more of a side project, selling her particular style of clothing at a small boutique.
However, her cage bras and other distinct pieces soon began to develop a reputation. Connections to other New York designers allowed her to begin displaying her designs at shows, leading to the enormous success that she enjoys today.
4. She is constantly using new materials
One of the most important aspects of McCharen’s design is the experimentation with and use of innovative materials. Her clothing is defined not only by its distinctly architectural design, but also by its unique material. These include latex, neoprene, and even LED lights. McCharen’s innovative spirit allows her to continuously evolve and produce clothing that is even more empowering and moving each year.
3. She is a lifelong learner
Although Chromat has had tremendous popularity since its inception in 2010, McCharen does not carry herself as an industry expert. Instead, she is constantly seeking out new information to provide better designs for her customers.
As her background is in architecture, McCharen is well equipped to produce works that build off the structure of the human body. However, she has openly stated that she lacks formal fashion training. Therefore, she turns to employees that have studied fashion to better understand how her pieces can be adapted into clothing.
2. She identifies as LGBT
Not only has McCharen faced trials during her time working construction, she has also experienced discrimination as a member of the LGBTQ community. She has stated that being “queer” makes her similar to her clothing, both existing outside of the realm of mainstream normalcy.
Clearly, her unique experience as a queer individual has informed her brand. Chromat is famous not only for its powerful designs, but also for its dedication to diversity. McCharen ensures that there is a wide range of models and photographers employed by the company. This is an important step in helping women, people of color, and people of different sexual orientations break into the traditionally male-dominated fashion industry.
1. Her clothing has been worn by some A-list superstars
One of the most impressive aspects of McCharen’s career is the meteoric rise to popularity her brand has experienced. Despite her humble beginnings in the fashion industry, she has managed to design pieces for some of the most popular and influential stars in the world today. These include Beyonce, Madonna, Nicki Minaj, and Jessica Chastain.
Becca McCharen is an inspirational figure not just to those within the fashion industry, but to everyone. She is an individual who has experienced incredible success despite no formal training in her field. As well, she has managed to overcome societal barriers and discrimination.
Most importantly, however, is the fact that McCharen’s clothing is deliberately designed to enhance the confidence of the wearer. She uses structural design to form an “exoskeleton” which empowers individuals and makes them feel more secure in their own body.