What’s up everyone, we are Checo and Amin and we run the clothing company Caravan Fabrics.
How’d you meet/ Origin of the brand
Amin – It’s actually a funny story, Checo and I both used to play soccer. We played for the same club, but one day I went into his team’s practice and realized he was a dick on the soccer field. Eventually, over time, things developed and we became friends. After soccer6 he went off to college and I was modeling for a company called Frdmco. (The Freedom Company)
One morning, super early, I hit him up because I needed him for a photo shoot. We shot the lookbook and everything went great. The brand owner ended up reaching out to Checo to get more involved with the company because they realized he also was a designer. Through working together on projects with Frdmco and other companies, we both realized we had the same vision. From there, we decided to start our own company.
The first name I had come up with was Modern Styles, but all of the URLs were taken. One night, I (Amin) was in my parents’ house and I was going through one of my Dad suitcases and I found this business card. My dad used to own this Brazilian candy company called Caravan Candy Co. that imported candy to the states. I started to configure names, even more, caravan this, caravan that and through hours of doing that I came up with Caravan Fabrics. Once Checo came back from school we both met for coffee and there we birthed the first logo for Caravan Fabrics.
What is caravan fabrics/Silk Road of Fashion?
When you think of a Caravan, you assimilate it to a silk road, being that it goes from country to country taking the best fabrics, jewelry, merchandise, food, spices, all of the best qualities in that country and takes it to the next country and breaks down into details on what the pieces mean or where they come from. That in itself is what we wanted Caravan Fabrics to be. We see the Caravan as our metaphor to keep progressing forward. Our message is about progressing forward while learning about cultures and creating designs based off that.
With your guys’ company, it’s clear, that with each piece you guys create, there’s a distinct message. Over the years, do you think consumers look to buy because of the message or the hype?
Checo – I think people at the end care about investing in good products. When you have a good idea and find a way to sell that idea, people will buy into the product naturally. As a brand, it’s our responsibility to put out quality not just push trendy styles. We want to sell the message and concept first and create pieces that educate and empower. That’s the hype we want to sell.
Amin – You will always have both clients but once something reaches a breakthrough and enters the realm of “hype” everybody is going to chase it regardless if they usually buy for the message or not. At that point, though you have the people that were buying because of the message now teaching and breaking it down to those that started wearing the brand because its considered hype now.
With your collections being based on countries. How do you go into selecting what countries to use?
Checo- We’ve talked about setting a “route” to follow to help us choose the countries and areas we focus on. However, we felt that it would become too predictable so we decided to just go with what feels natural at the moment.
This collection was based on the Caribbean. We covered Haiti, Jamaica, Trinidad and Tobago, and Barbados. For us, we wanted to take the qualities of depth in each country, that people might not know or recognize, and show that social perspective that these countries are much more than we know. The Caribbean fell into our laps due to the time we were in. Summer was coming around and we wanted to create something that represented that, as well as happy vibes.
We picked France with a few different ideas in mind. Initially, Checo rolled with France just because, but also, we were going to release it in the fall, fall is cuffing season, and France is the country of love. The elements just continued to play on each other.
Are you guys going to continue structuring this way moving forward in year 2?
Right now, we don’t really have a map or route and that’s okay. We are learning a lot. Looking back on year one, we dropped three packages, and to us, three packages is a little slow. Although they have been big collections, we just feel like we can drop more and at a faster pace.
Have you thought of any countries you’re thinking about using for collections going into year two?
We want to pause on the package thing for a bit because we are planning a European tour at the end of the year. We want to hit up a few countries because eventually, we want to start traveling to these countries and being the primary source of our research. With taking that tour, year two is going to be about planning and honing in on what we want to do. Throughout the year we will still release product, but towards the end of the year we will take that tour, gain as much knowledge as possible, and year three come back and design based off of the countries we hit. Some of those countries are Italy, Spain, France, and a few others.
A few months back you were one of three brands to be apart of Juany’s Noble Street Swap Meet. How did that come about?
I had been following Juany and been a big fan of his work for years now. One day, he Dm’ed me (Amin) on IG asking if I could comment on one of his recent posts and I did. A week later we were doing a campaign called, ‘What does love mean to you?’ I reached out to Juany and said I commented on your post, do you mind going on our post and explaining what love means to you. I ended up going into Ninis deli for the first time the following Wednesday and met Juany. We chopped it up here and there. During that time I was working on the lookbook and writing some descriptions for an artist we collaborated with. As I finished up, I gave Juany a hat and a sticker pack. I wanted all good vibes. I told him, I really wanted a Chicago Native piece, but I felt weird because I wasn’t from Chicago. After that, we kept talking and I showed him the lookbook that I was working on and he got intrigued by a few pieces. I explained to him the stories behind those pieces and he fell in love with them. The next night, I was studying for a test, and Juany hit me up and he said he was having an event and he wanted Caravan Fabrics to be apart of it. It was so mind-blowing to me. The day he told us, the following week we were dropping package three. Going into the swap meet, I knew Juany was going to be bringing out a crowd, but I didn’t know if they were going to buy or not. With package three dropping, we had all of our stock, and we didn’t know how it was going to sell, or what pieces would sell the most. At that point, it was a risk we needed to take though. That night I drafted up an email to our manufacturer saying I needed X amount, of these three pieces. We were going to do a whole catalogue restock of that collection. Luckily we didn’t because as we talked to Juany more, all he wanted us to bring was three pieces. What’s crazy is, we restocked all of our hoodies and then when I want to shoot the video with Evan and Juany, we were talking about merch more and he said we should have a hat, hoodie, and a shirt. Problem was, we already ordered all of the hoodies. Unfortunately, we couldn’t delete the orders, but we looked to bring back other stock we thought could sell. In the first hour, everything sold out. Still to this day, we are still mind blown on how the event went. Juany did a fantastic job of putting the event together.
What’s the most important thing you’ve learned from running this brand over the years?
Checo- The biggest thing I’ve learned while running Caravan Fabrics is the importance of balance in life. It’s easy for passion to consume you and before you know it you’re allocating all your time and energy to one thing. I’m learning to balance all of my endeavors to make sure I have a fresh mind going into any situation, especially when working on Caravan.
Amin- Internally, we’d say communication. There’s so much importance of being on the same page. This isn’t a 9-5. You can’t go home and leave this. Running a brand is a lifestyle. Also, our goal is to push what Caravan is, without always having to be in the eye. We want to push it through Social media, yet still have people feel the connection, as if we met them in person. On top of all of that, we’ve learned that you can never not go the extra mile. There’s no such thing as doing enough. You have to learn how to always keep pushing.