Four years ago Raúl Arévalo and Bradley Schmidt set out on a mission to start their own menswear company designed and manufactured in the U.S.
The duo combined their skills to create CADET, a military-inspired menswear brand. They won recognition from the Design Entrepreneurs NYC and recognition from the prestigious Council of Fashion Designers of America/Vogue Fashion Fund (CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund) in 2015. While they built their brand for men, the CADET revealed their first women's collection in Spring 2016 at the request of influential Vogue editor and fashion arbiter Anna Wintour.
Arévalo was born in Mexico and moved to the U.S. when he was 10 years old. In Mexico Arévalo dreamed of being a fashion designer, so he forged a career in the industry. He graduated from the Fashion Institute of Technology in 1995 with a Chairman's Award for the best menswear collection. After snagging his degree, he went on to contribute designs to Aeropostale, Target, Club Monaco and many more. He even helped design the outfits Venus Williams wore while she competed.
Schmidt, whose mother is Mexican American, was born and raised in Seattle. He worked for 14 years project managing at GE, so he took on the role of brand managing, sourcing and business development. While Arévalo sewed, Schmidt managed the New York stores and even partnered with Nordstrom and Amazon.
How did you meet?
Arévalo: We actually are life partners as well. We have been together for almost 11 years. Four years ago we wanted to do something outside of corporate America. So, you know, we decided to open our own brand.
Schmidt: Raul has been in the fashion industry for almost 20 years and I haven't been in the past. We really leveraged his expertise and launched our own brand.
You are a menswear brand, so why are there also women in your show?
Arévalo: For Spring 2016, Anna Wintour asked us to do a women's collection. We were actually on the schedule to do men's and women's separately, but since they were so close this season, we chose to combine it. We are generally known as a menswear brand, but we are delving more into womenswear so we thought it would be a good mixture to have.
What do you bring to fashion for the Latino community?
Arévalo: For me, [it's] being from Mexico and coming here as a kid at 10 years old, you know, having that dream of one day being a designer and one day showing at fashion week. As I was growing up I never thought it would happen. I think it's hope… that one day anything can happen.