The rugged, masculine appeal of military style is eternal. Just ask Raul Arevalo and Brad Schmidt, the duo behind up-and-coming label Cadet. Arevalo's an FIT grad who's done tours in the design studios of Converse and Club Monaco, and Schmidt is a project management guru with plenty of online experience. The two wanted to launch a modern menswear brand of tailored clothes that were produced with integrity and wanted to do it here in the States. Inspired by American military academies like West Point and VMI, the line has been gaining steam with guys who favor tailored sportswear that isn't overly embellished. We caught up with Schmidt to talk about the men in uniform, late-night eBay shopping and producing in America.
Collegiate jacket, $188
The military has always developed garments that are designed for many different occasions, emphasizing a real utility. The clothing is deliberate and not fussy. There aren't extra buttons or grommets hanging out on a shirt for no reason. Even trims have purpose. The toughness, masculinity and legacy evoke a strength that is sort of translated to the person who buys a military inspired garment.
We actually found our first inspiration piece at the Brooklyn Flea in Williamsburg, just a block away from our flagship shop now. We purchased an antique New York Military Academy jacket from 1888 with brass buttons that say CADET. We have a collection of vintage uniforms as well as current uniforms in our library. And we're always scouring flea markets, vintage stores and, of course, a lot of late nights on eBay.
Our primary goal was to manufacture ourselves here in New York. We control the quality, details, execution and quantities. We also wanted to make clothes in an ethical way. We offer a living wage, a respectful workplace and create a collaborative environment that creates pride in the job and contributes to a quality product. It also means we can replenish styles in just a couple of days. We're able to develop new styles and have them in the store in less than two weeks.