NYC-based menswear brand CADET should be on the radar of all menswear enthusiasts. Founded in 2011, their covetable garments are characterized by military-inspired designs and a dedicated attention to detail and fit. The head designer behind CADET’s collections is owner/founder Raul Arevalo. He’s a master tailor and veteran technical design maestro with experience from established brands like Abercrombie & Fitch and Club Monaco. He was also instrumental in developing fashion lines from celebs like Sarah Jessica Parker and Venus Williams. The production, sourcing and daily operations of the budding CADET empire are handled by co-founder Brad Schmidt, a technology integration expert who makes sure that the minutiae of running a full-range menswear brand are completely taken care of.
CADET presently has three NYC stores and a steadily growing and very devoted clientele. We paid a visit to their Bushwick production factory to explore the epicenter of their surging fashion business.
“CADET is a student of precision, focusing on quality and clean lines ….”
Tell us a little bit about how the brand Cadet came about – what are the founding philosophies of the brand?
We started the brand in December 2011. We thought there was a need for Made in America casual sportswear brand. We wanted something masculine and youthful. We were inspired by the post-war military academy era, so CADET includes a full range of shirts, pants, outerwear, knits and swim that captures the entrepreneurial spirit of the 1950s and 1960s. CADET is a student of precision, focusing on quality and clean lines for a crisp aesthetic that honors classic silhouettes while continuing to push menswear design forward with technical tailoring and refined fabrications.
You have 3 different stores – how are all three of them different?
The biggest difference between them is the size. The Williamsburg store is twice the size of the other stores. The West Village store is the newest and is in the process of a minor renovation as part of a new retail vibe we are trying to create. The East Village store is the smallest, but still has the same product as the other stores, just strategically merchandised. We wanted to locate our stores in places that could develop as part of the neighborhood. We have three stores, but maintain a local feel to all them – so they all reflect the character of the neighborhoods where they are located.
You have a fully functioning factory in Brooklyn – how did that come about?
It was actually the first thing we did. We rented a raw space in Bushwick, which then forced us to figure out exactly how we were going to build a brand. We bought one sewing machine at a time and figured out the fit and styling of the clothing and a strategy for the brand. We opened our first store in Williamsburg 5 months later with a full CADET collection.
What are the major advantages of having a factory in the same city as your retail stores?
Our real advantage is that we own our factory. We don’t have to meet minimums and have flexibility to deliver new product when we want and also develop new styles – and have them in the store in 2 weeks. With the factory being close to our stores, we don’t have to worry about shipping, distribution centers, etc. Some things are delivered to our stores via subway or in our car…
You are already carried at Isetan in Japan – what’s next with regards to expansion?
We are looking for key partners to grow the brand. We are planning additional retail outlets and would be open to collaborations or additional strategic wholesale accounts – domestically and internationally.
Are there any accessories/leather goods coming soon to the CADET mix?
We have designed accessories that go with each collection. However, since we produce our collection, sometimes something has got to give. Since we are an apparel brand first, the accessories get pushed. We would love to launch our accessories…all in due time.
What are the top 3 signature styles that sell the most for your brand?
The Aviator Pant: Based on a vintage Air Force pant, we updated the fit and details to make the pant more modern. The fit, style and quality construction of the pant is what makes it our most popular item.
The Aviator Jacket: A refined, timeless ‘bomber’ style jacket.This style isn’t over embellished or washed down. Rich and structured fabrics make this jacket a favorite as well.
Bootcamp Hoodie: The softest sweatshirt you will ever find. Brushed tri-blend fabric with our signature button at the neck.
What is the grand vision for CADET in the next five years?
Our plan is to expand our retail footprint on the West Coast and expand our wholesale channels in Europe and Asia.
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