I met Chad Leon of Cleons at the Uptown Fashion Show in New York about a year ago. My friend Juan Gabriel was modeling in his show and I had the privilege of asking Mr. Cleons himself a few questions about his fashion line. Here we’ll go more into that and find out where the designer started and how he has become so well known today.
R|A: Chad how long exactly have you been designing and how did you get your start?
CLEONS: I've been designing since 2001, seriously with CLEONS since 2005. I promoted myself a lot and on social media, during that time it was MySpace lol. Did a couple of small designer collective fashion shows and club shows.
R|A: You recently had a huge and amazing fashion show in your Hometown of Chicago, how does one organize and conceptualize an entire fashion show? What is the process?
CLEONS: Thank You! Everyone has their own pattern on how they do things, I plan ahead, and make sure I meet my personal deadlines and goals when planning and sewing for a show.
"I think Dolce & Gabbana and Alexander McQueen are brilliant. I stay in my own bubble and not follow the trend or what others are doing..."
R|A: How many pieces will you be debuting this season?
CLEONS: From the s/s16 fashion show there were 57 looks..including accessories, there is a little over 120 pieces.
R|A: What advice would you have for all the kids in design school or those with a dream of designing?
CLEONS: Protect your brand, stay focused, humble and passionate, design what is true to you and have very thick skin in this competitive industry. Always be willing to learn and gain knowledge to better yourself.
R|A: Where do you see your line in 5-10 years? Will you open your own boutique or will you sell to other merchants?
CLEONS: I do have plans I want to fulfill in that time frame *lips sealed* :) I would love to have a boutique in the future.
R|A: How long does it take you to design an entire line and organize a show?
CLEONS: Sewing takes the most time for me, so when that is done a BIG weight is lifted off my shoulders. My first CLEONS show in 2008 took 3 months, 'SPACE&RAVE' (2015) took 9 months.
R|A: Do you have a manufacturing company, sweatshop workers or what? Who helps put CLEONS together?
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CLEONS: No sweatshop or manufacturing company, I build and sew everything on my own.
R|A: When do you start preparing for a new season?
CLEONS: If I'm not doing a fashion show that year, 2-3 months prior.
R|A: Who were your influences when starting out?
CLEONS: I think Dolce & Gabbana and Alexander McQueen are brilliant. I stay in my own bubble and not follow the trend or what others are doing, and create what is true to me and how I'm feeling at that particular moment in my life. Fabrics inspire me a lot. I can go fabric shopping and see a certain fabric that draws my attention, I know exactly what I want to make and which model to wear it.
R|A: What most important piece of advice would you say have helped you in life?
CLEONS: I'm always learning new things, being passionate and staying organized has helped me with my brand, CLEONS.
"Protect your brand, stay focused, humble and passionate..."