GREG CHAIT

NATALIA BONIFACCI MEETS GREG CHAIT, THE HEART BEHIND THE SOFTEST BRAND AROUND, THE ELDER STATESMAN. THEY MEET IN MALIBU. IT'S A SUNNY SOUTHERN CALIFORNIAN SUNDAY. WHILE TAKING A BREAK FROM SWIMMING, SPENDING TIME WITH HIS FRIENDS AND, SIMPLY, ENJOYING THE DAY, GREG CHATS WITH NATALIA FOR REDMILK MAGAZINE AND SHARES WITH HER THE STORY OF HIS COMPANY, HIS INSPIRATIONS AND HIS THOUGHTS ON THE LITTLE THINGS IN LIFE

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Describe your brand in three words
Understated luxury first person. Four words (he laughs).

If you were to describe what you do for a living to a small child, what would you tell him or her?
How small?

…a kid
Four years old, maybe?

Sure
I got a kid, so it all depends (his daughter is four years old)… To Dorothy (his daughter), I’d say: ‘Daddy makes lots of really really soft things, such as teddy bears and sweaters and blankets and princess dresses and whatever you want’.

What projects are you working on right now that you are excited about?
We just got our new factory in Culver City opened, so that’s like everything for me. I am really excited about that. We got all these amazing artisans and new machineries… It’s really rare. It’s really really rare for a company to have its own factory, especially in knitwear, to be able to be vertical. I’m very happy about it. Our studio is there as well, but, then, I still have my private studio in West Hollywood. We’re planning to open a store this year and our website is gonna be up in a few weeks.

Where does The Elder Statesman come from?
I always wanted to make blankets. I always collected blankets, but I could never find the one I wanted, so eventually I thought “Well, I just have to make one myself…”. I found some people in hand spun yarn who also hand knit…  So, that’s where the concept really came from. It started with a little swatch this big (he interlaces his fingers giving shape to the smallest imaginary square), and then it blossomed. I first established (The Elder Statesman) in 2007, but I went into the market, really, at the end of 2008, right a the crash (he laughs).

How does the ideal blanket look like? The one that you couldn’t find?
At the time it was a 10 pound, which would be about 5 kilos, hand span, hand knit, cashmere blanket. A little bigger than a throw, 59 by 79 inches, because I am tall. With most throws my feet would always be sticking out… Real heavy and utilitarian, but, ultimately, luxury.

So far, what has been the most special moment in your career?
I’m really fortunate. We make new things every single day, so I feel that every day I still get that high that you get from something beautiful happening, something that you’ve never seen before. Every day we’re progressing… I feel I get to feel that special moment every day.

What’s the quality you admire the most in people?
Consistency.

Which one is the one you like the least?
Inconsistency.

What’s the sexiest quality in a woman?
It’s a good question (he gets quiet for a bit, thinking). Passion.

If you could host an imaginary dinner party and invite seven people, alive or dead, whether you’ve met them or not, who would you invite?
Family.

What’s elegance to you?
I always say… For me it’s about… Things are just ‘good’. It could be any sort of thing: ‘good is good’ and that’s elegance to me. It could be something very simple or something extravagant. I’ve never found a way to properly describe it, that’s why I just say ‘good is good’, because it’s a feeling. Six women can be wearing the same outfit, they can all be beautiful and carry themselves well, but one of them just stands out. There is this indescribable quality about her, a feeling. I can be very out there like that, sometimes. I don’t have a specific reference of what would describes elegance to me, it’s something I feel.

What’s your favorite fabric and why
Cashmere. It’s the best. I was inheritably drawn to it. I mean, I think most people are… I just love it. It’s versatile.

What’s the best quality about you and what’s your biggest flaw?
Passion. It’s a two sided coin: it gets me to do great things and it also gets me in a lot of trouble, because you can get a little too passionate about things, sometimes.

What’s your favorite smell?
Getting off the plane, when you get back to LA. You know, when you can smell the ocean. Or getting off a plane in any place where there’s the ocean or the sea by the airport. I love that smell.

What’s your favorite sound?
Breath. Deep breath.

What’s the image (a photograph, a painting, a movie, etc.) that has had the biggest impact on you?
The Outsiders. Watching that movie for the first time was the most influential thing ever. It just resonated with me. Just the style of that movie and the whole outlaw feeling, it was just perfect. It carried with me for a long time. I was really young when I first watched it.

What makes you happy?
That’s a great question… My daughter. A lot of things, I guess. Today. I don’t know. You never really know, right?

What’s your favorite part about your job and what do you like the least
Making things. To be able to have the ability to make whatever we want, without having to follow any formula… That space of creativity is my favorite part. My least favorite part… Accounting? Although I am good at that. You know, running a business, sometimes, can be a drag, but it’s just part of it.

What was your first ‘fashion’ moment that had a moving impact on you?
The first moment I saw something in the world of fashion where I felt wowed was about seven or eight years ago. It was a Givenchy’s show. It was my first time in Paris and my friend Miriam took me to the show. From the invitation to the show itself, everything about it was very impacting. It was beautiful. And people care about this? It was interesting.

Do you have a motto?
No. I can’t say I do… You know, there are different mottos, I guess, at different times. As humans, we’re so dynamic. There are different things that drive us at different moments.

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