The premier C.H.C.M. in-house collection is small, occupying a single rack near the back of Sweetu Patel’s Bond Street shop, but it’s what’s missing from this already pared down selection that reveals the most about Sweetu’s latest endeavor. A few months back we had visited with Sweetu to check out a few samples that he was working on. Among this batch of drafts was a thigh-length quilted pullover jacket from Lavenham that at the time, was unlike anything we had ever seen in stores. We were instantly drawn to the novelty of this jacket. We would have handed over the credit card for it that day if given the chance. But now, it’s nowhere to found, Sweetu decided not to produce it. Or more accurately, he deleted it from the collection.
In Sweetu’s eyes a pullover jacket of that length wasn’t practical. It was design for design’s sake and so it had to be eliminated. Sweetu was born in India, raised in England, and arrived in America in 2002. He has no formal training in the clothing industry, and prior to founding C.H.C.M. in 2009, Sweetu spent his early adult life as a furniture designer, which no doubt informed this collection.
A couch cannot demand attention. A loud couch might entice you in the store, but living with it day after day becomes tedious, if not entirely obnoxious. The C.H.C.M. mainline is minimal in a Dieter Rams sort of way. It’s sparse, yet it rewards those that take time with it. Sweetu tosses around words like “boring” and “underwhelming” as he describes the collection. He says all this with a slight smile, because to him, these are compliments. But to him, the ultimate compliment is a head nod. “In a city where everyone tries so hard, I just want to blend in, until that one guy sees, and he gives that slight check.” And that’s who Sweetu designs for.
The collection has been polished down to its core. Nothing superfluous can stay, which explains not just the minute size of the line, but also its lack of any details. It consists of only ten or so garments and a few collaborative pieces with brands like Death to Tennis and Drake’s. In fact it’s less a collection than it is a wardrobe. After four years as a straight retail store, Sweetu has stripped C.H.C.M. down to its core elements leaving only the pieces that typify the ultra-refined style that he personally adheres to. It’s a direct extension of himself, and if you get it, then you get it. Everything else, like that pullover jacket, can just be deleted.