Vivala went backstage with Cadet at Pier 59 for NYFW in September 2015.

photo: Daniela Vesco, Vivala

Since launching in 2011, Cadet has been slowly conquering fashionable closets everywhere. Mexico City native Raul Arevalo and Brad Schmidt started the brand after seeing a void for tailored and authentic military-influenced menswear clothing. The duo bought a factory and a flagship store just a few blocks from their home in Williamsburg, Brooklyn where Cadet is now produced. The label has since opened two more stores in Manhattan's East Village and West Village. And in 2015 — after recently introducing womenswear — Cadet is one of ten finalists up for this year's CFDA Vogue Fashion Fund Award, and we had the pleasure of catching up with them before the big day.

Arevalo and Schmidt had wanted to branch out into womenswear for quite some time now but it took a push from Anna Wintour to make it happen. During a studio visit this past summer the Vogue editor-in-chief asked the two about their upcoming plans for fashion week. Having just shown their men’s collection during the inaugural New York Fashion Week Mens, they were both caught off guard, but seized the opportunity to put together a 10-piece womenswear capsule collection. "Girls still want military men's stuff but a real feminine version. They don't want to lose that element of masculinity when they come to us." says Arevalo of the female Cadet customer.

photo: Cadet

In addition to working on their first womenswear collection, Raul and Brand have been keeping busy with all of the challenges that make up the CFDA Vogue Fashion Fund.  For the first ever Instagram challenge, finalists had to create an Instagram video focusing on their brand’s aesthetic while incorporating Los Angeles. The guys decided to showcase robot dancer Chadd Smith wearing the jacket that started it all. "If you watch the video it incorporates a vintage New York Military Academy jacket from the 1890s, The buttons say 'Cadet' on them which we found at the Brooklyn Flea and that's really where the name of our brand came from," explains Schmidt. In October, they presented their collection at the annual CFDA Vogue Fashion Fund LA Fashion Show alongside the other finalists and appear in Vogue's November issue with Kendall Jenner and Nick Jonas serving as models wearing looks that represent the brand.

A photo posted by CADET (@cadet) on

Womenswear is just one of the exciting changes for the brand. Since winning the Design Entrepreneurs NYC competition, which awarded them a $100,000 prize and a special partnership with Amazon, the label has been in heavy growth mode. The designer and CEO are looking to build up their international presence by launching wholesale for 2016. They’ve also branching into new categories, including leather bags for spring 2016 presentations as well as men’s shoes for fall 2016. "We also have plans to launch retail on the West Coast in San Francisco and Los Angeles come 2017 or 2018," adds Schmidt. We have a feeling this is just the start of their global conquest.

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