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A few years ago, C&C California was synonymous with West Coast cool. Heavily inspired by surf culture and the easy-breezy style of the '70s, locals lived in their lightweight basics and layered on their soft 100% cotton tees in an array of vibrant colors. Eventually, a series of organizational changes led to the line's decline in quality and, as a result, a loss in fans. While this shift would have caused most brands to bow out or at least go on hiatus, C&C California tried to stay in the game and worked double time to form a team that could help them make a solid comeback.
Enter C&C California's new design director, Yuchin Mao. While her background as former creative director of high-end T-shirt line Three Dots definitely complements her new gig, the most interesting thing about Mao's past is that she's the former creative director of renowned fashion house, Helmut Lang, which is sure to give C&C some welcomed fashion cred. Although the line's new spring collection (pictured) is a far cry from Lang's signature black-and-white color palette, we already see some chic subtle changes, like that long-sleeved white cutout tee. Read on to hear about Mao's Helmut Lang past, C&C California's future, and the designer's celebrity collaborator wish list.
Racked: How has your time at Helmut Lang influenced your work for C&C California?
Yuchin: My passion for design was cultivated at Helmut Lang. It made me appreciate the artistry and intricacy of working with a designer label. From initial concept to developing material to presenting the final garment, every step of the process is executed with the core brand integrity in mind. Now at C&C California, I implement the same practices.
Racked: Are there any challenges in designing for a commercial brand versus a designer label?
Yuchin: Whether I am working for a high-fashion brand or a brand with a broader customer base, my love of design is still the same. Being able to take an idea from a sketch to a sample is what I enjoy the most, so luckily I still get to do that. When I see people wearing my pieces in a cool and unique way, that's icing on the cake.
Racked: What is your vision for the new C&C California?
Yuchin: When joining the C&C California team I was clear on the essence of the brand and wanted to continue to capture the relaxed yet chic Southern California lifestyle that the brand champions. Using the core elements of their trademarks—bold colors, premium fabrics and wearability—I work to infuse new designs and wash techniques into each season to keep the line current and relevant.
Racked: What designers or celebrities would you love to collaborate with?
Yuchin: It would be great to partner with a celebrity that embodies the quintessential California lifestyle that is C&C California. I'd love to work with Rachel Bilson. Jessica Biel and Shailene Woodley are top picks, too.
· C&C California [Official Site]