Q&A | IH NOM UH NIT's Chaz Jordan
He’s a creative director for one of fashion’s hottest brands. She’s a fictional character with telepathic and psychokinetic powers. He’s 30 years-old, she’s Eleven from Stranger Things. Fashion’s hottest muse/artist duo sent the internet into a collective frenzy yet again when IH NOM UH NIT premiered their Spring/Summer 2020 collection at Milan Fashion Week, headlined by another attention-demanding article featuring the runaway cultural phenomenon, resident badass from Netflix’s signature original series.
Besides graphic shirts championing girl-power characters, the collection, titled “A Samurai’s Story,” showcases a wide arrangement of Asian inspired garments and kimonos fused together with a streetwear influence, making it perfectly on-brand for the lifestyle-wear company Chaz has constructed in the recent years. With co-signs by heavy pop culture hitters such as Willow Smith, Hailey Bieber, Jay Z, Russell Wilson, and YG the brand has propelled Chaz Jordan into the fashion limelight as the industry eagerly awaits his next move.
Fashion crashes down on the culture in waves, and now its Chaz Jordan’s time to surf the industry’s Point break as he glides into the new season with not only a viral, pop referencing hit under his belt, but also a line which tapped into the era’s Zeitgeist; as the culture now looks upon the Eastern world for clothing ideas and influences. Flaunt spoke with the Chicago born Creative Director for the Paris based Fashion House about the origins behind his artistic fascination with Stranger Things, what’s next for the IH NOM UH NIT brand, and an exclusive announcement concerning an upcoming collaboration he’s planned with the French Luxury House Maison Margiela.
You were born in Chicago then relocated to Paris after college with your first fashion company, Au Courant. What brought you into the fashion world? When did you start designing clothes?
Yes, my initial entry into the industry came as a consumer like most of us. What I came to realize was that if given the opportunity with the right circumstances I could create a better product and design than most of what I was buying.
Don C referred me to a woman by the name of Maria, who was our rep at Barneys on Oak St., who might be able to point me in the direction of finding a manufacturer. By this time I had a sketch book that I kept designs and concepts in after combing tumblr for hours. This was 2011.
What is it about clothes and accessories which inspire and motivate you?
For me it has always been equal part discovery and process with the execution and presentation. The high of becoming inspired and designing is indescribable. I will go 8hrs+ without moving when in the zone.
The second high comes with seeing my concepts come to fruition and to the level that I intended.
This alone is enough for me.
IH NOM UH NIT is one of the fastest growing brands in fashion, especially with shout outs from major celebrities all across the map, such as rappers Jay Z and YG, supermodel Hailey Bieber, and Superbowl winning quarterback Russell Wilson. Who was the first “oh shit,” celebrity endorsement? The one which really felt like the brand had made it onto the scene?
That would have to be my brother, 2 Chainz. This was the catalyst for what IHNOMUHNIT has become.
The celebrity that solidified it for me however has to be Jay Z. Turns out he actually purchased the shirt he wore on stage at the Austin Music Festival which validated everything that much more. Fast forward and now i’m at dinners and hanging out with that ROC family.
Interesting how life works like that!
One of the major standouts from your SS20 line was the Eleven from Stranger Things graphic t-shirt. How did this collaboration with Stranger Things come about? What drew the brand towards Eleven?
When the show initially launched I think I binged it in a day. It reminded me so much of my childhood and growing up in the early 90s watching ET and Radio Flyer. That nostalgia mixed with Eleven’s badass-ness made me want to incorporate her somehow into the brand. Turns out the Eleven graphic that I incorporated a few seasons prior ended up being one of the best-selling shirts created so in commemoration of the 3rd season, we created an updated version of that tee for SS20. Everyone from super models to pro athletes & musicians wore the eleven shirt it truly went viral.
The collections titled “A Samurai Story,” and features kimonos and various Asian inspired robes and garments. Tell us about the creative process behind this idea, what inspired it?
Most if not all of my collections to date have taken inspiration from films. Since I was a kid, I would go to the cinema at least once a week with my grandparents.
Naturally I become immersed in the lives of the characters and worlds created in these films - There is so much untapped inspiration and references in films.
For this particular collection, I drew inspiration from the Last Samurai starring Tom Cruise. I am very drawn to the Japanese culture and have always wanted to figure out how to incorporate the traditional shogun and samurai period dress into a modern and practical collection.
It seems like kimonos are the ‘’must have’ fashion item from spring summer 2019. What is causing this shift towards Japanese aesthetics in American fashion?
I think it’s the sense and feeling of an easy to wear yet elegant piece that is also versatile as a layering item when speaking on the kimono.
In regards to Japanese aesthetics as a whole it may be the ease and simplicity in their classic dress that is appealing. A subdued luxury and elegance.
Another jaw-dropping item from the collection was the pearl beaded mask. It’s a piece of striking detail. What does the mask symbolize for the brand? As most designers will express, it is always a struggle to keep a piece of your core in each collection while appealing to the commercial machine.
For those that know my work prior to IH NOM UH NIT’s printed shirts & elevated streetwear, they know that my training and actual design aesthetic is semi-couture with a modern approach.
Pearls have always been a strong part of our dna. we have created full micro pearl encrusted moto jackets, ripped distressed denim with pearl accents & most recently, a full pearl structured facemask. Samurai warriors would have elaborate face masks for battle so wanted to play off this idea.
We love how IH NOM UH NIT produces unisex clothing. Why did you choose this route for your brand instead of the traditional male/female clothing?
Going to officially set the record straight on this one and say that IH NOM UH NIT is a ready to wear brand for men and women .
What we found especially with our celebrity and influencers is that the women naturally began to buy and pull the men’s pieces in addition to the women’s pieces. This created a depiction of the styles being unisex when in essence they are produced as men or women styles.
This was definitely an unexpected and welcomed surprise however I do still formally create a women’s collection and Men’s however they are interchangeable with their oversized shapes and interesting silhouettes. For example, Willow Smith wore the men’s sequin sweater as a dress with Doc Martin’s & super model Hailey Baldwin wore a men’s hoodie as a dress.
It’s amazing how you’re the creative director of a major fashion brand at such a young age. Any advice for aspiring fashion designers reading Flaunt who admire your work and successes?
Thank you, the best advice I find myself giving is to look at where you want to be in 3-5 years and work backwards.
There are a lot of things young designers and even myself when starting did not account for because I had not experienced yet.
Having a plan and routes allow you to better prepare and set expectations for yourself and your team. Granted talent, design and brand champions are all essential pieces to the puzzle as well!
What’s next for IH NOM UH NIT?
The plan is to continue to grow and increase our market awareness and share in the US. We have an incredible opportunity domestically and now are focusing our efforts on this market. The line has grown immensely in Asia, Europe but we really want to focus on our US efforts this upcoming year.
Are you working on any projects outside the IH NOM UH NIT brand?
I just launched my life long project and long awaited luxury line, LAUNDERED WORKS CORP. From the beginning I wanted to create a “house” that would rival the icons: Chanel, Berluti, Celine etc.
As a result of IH NOM UH NIT’s success, I have been allowed the access and freedom to do so with very few limitations. I have partnered with some of the top factories and suppliers in Europe to bring this project to life and create my vision of what a modern fashion house should be. My focus is to bring back that feeling of what luxury and fashion once were in Paris specifically. A period in time that is very close to me and my time spent living in Paris.
With a successful debut season in Milan and Paris the brand is beginning to gather steam and support from the top retailers, stylists and celebrities including Future, Offset, Lewis Hamilton and 2 Chainz to name a few.
This is also a first to be publicly announced but I’m working with Margiela as an official partner for special events focusing on the California region. We have our first event slated for the beginning of October partnered with my global supercar rally company, RACE 2 GRACE. It’s an interesting blend of various luxuries: exotic cars, cuisine & travel – it was in an effort to curate a ‘members only/ private club’ of sorts with the goal being memorable luxe experiences with people with similar interests coupled with a charitable giving component.
Lastly, I will be featured in this year’s NBA2K as one of the featured brands as well as influencers alongside Ben Baller and Shoe Surgeon.