By Christene Barberich
There's no beating around the bush: Designer Susie Cho and her line Inhabit are redefining the sweater as we know it.
"I like to challenge existing ideas of knitwear with interesting designs and details," Cho says. "Knitwear is always evolving for me through the exploration of techniques, shapes, details, and construction."
It is this personalized focus that has secured the lesser-known 4-year-old knitwear label plenty of hardcore addicts, many of them claiming to have never before found just that perfect sweater. "Inhabit grew out of my frustration with not being able to find knitwear that was interesting, wearable, and accessible," she says. "This line is about shape and detail as opposed to seasonal embellishments." Those signature details translate to asymmetrical cuts and bi-level hems, figure-friendly shifted seams, as well as kitten-soft cashmeres and cottons, which collectively have helped to set Cho and Inhabit apart. Way apart.
But Cho knew that women weren't the only ones in search of the perfect lightweight cashmere pullover. "I saw a niche in the market that called for an interesting and individual knitwear line for men," she says. "[Plus], we were always hearing from our buyers, ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‹Å“Why don't you have a men's collection?!'"
Testing the waters, the label's first men's collection launched last fall just 12 pieces strong. "The core concept [was] the same," Cho says. "But with men's, I [do] find the boundaries of design more challenging. There is a fine line of what is enough, but not too much when exploring new details and shapes."
Among the spring collection, two standouts are the more refined spin on the classic thermal, crafted with out-seam details (ideal for layering year-round) as well as a lightweight cashmere crew with patched shoulders. For fall, Cho's gentleman faves include the "duffel" coat, an over-washed cardigan-jacket of super-soft but rugged-looking merino/yak, and the two-tone pullover made of a fine linen/alpaca yarn in a blister stitch "to give it an interesting texture, plus cut-edge seam details and handmade leather buttons," Cho says. "I want to give men interestingly designed clothes, but more importantly, clothing that is wearable and not self-conscious."
Inhabit men is available in Los Angeles at Fred Segal (8100 Melrose Avenue, 323-651-4129).
Photography by Elizabeth Young
Inhabit design director Susie Cho knew that women weren't the only ones with a weakness for fine knits. In its second season, her refined menswear collection has even the toughest gents clamoring for cashmere.