“The word ‘cake’ is synonymous with wealth and power. We can refer to everything we want simply as cake, from chocolate cake, to cash and even a kilo of cocaine.”
In the streetwear industry where imitation is suicide and reputation is everything, LSA junior Jerrit Tan is relatively new on the scene with Cake, the clothing and lifestyle brand he started in 2005. Along with friends Mike Cho and Sera Juddin – New York natives – Tan has created a line of edgy T-shirts with an urban-chic vibe. They hope to bring fresh ideas into the streetwear industry. Though originally excluded from the mainstream fashion for its unconventional style, well-known design houses like Gucci and Prada have turned to a hip-hop style for inspiration.
Like other contemporary lines taking advantage of the opportunity to collaborate between creative industries, Cake is constantly looking for inspiration in different genres, be it pop art, techno or hip hop
“Creativity breeds creativity, and becoming more mainstream has definitely built new bridges between companies and artists to encourage more innovative products,” Tan said in an e-mail interview.
Cake’s criteria include originality, wearability and style. Tan and his partners are ambitious, striving to create a completely original brand that catches eyes, creates buzz and demands a second look.
“If we saw our clothes in a store, would we pick it up?” Tan asked. “If we saw some random guy at a bar wearing one of our shirts, would we swim our way through the crowd to ask him where he got his shirt? It is a long and sometimes painstaking process to come up with a product that you like, and you believe other people would like also.”
The streetwear industry is difficult to break into, but Cake has sold its spring line to 20 retailers, hitting major cities including New York, Chicago and Los Angeles as well as expanding globally to England, Canada and Japan.
Inspired by Japanese brand Bape – originally a clothing label that expanded to records and even Bape Lamborghinis – Tan hopes Cake will branch out beyond T-shirts to include jeans, button-downs, sweaters, sneakers and watches.
“Just like high fashion, the more outlandish and unique it is, the more attention it will grab,” Tan said. “Hype is a beautiful thing.”