Obviously, the Spring has us all feeling a certain kind of way with changing temperatures, longer days and more. That's more time to take your workouts outside, run errands without worrying about the weather and eating outdoors. We sat down with menswear designer, Stan Cheung to talk about his line EYSOM, how he became a designer and how he will enjoy the upcoming Spring Equinox.
ATHLEISURE MAG: Tell us about your background and how you came to being a designer.
STAN CHEUNG: It wasn’t a conventional route. I began my career in Los Angeles, working in the executive buying program for May Department Store. Up till then, the experiences I had at the entertainment studios didn’t ignite my passions, so my mentor – who was the Dean of the Business School at USC – recommended that I pursue retail. He was right. It clicked. I fell in love with buying menswear. Back then there was a lot of autonomy in this role. You could take risks. You could be creative with buying assortments. But my experiences were cut short when Federated merged with May, and so my life took a turn and I moved to New York to work on private brands for Macys.
New York City is where I really learned about the design world. My buying experiences in L.A. were a good fit for brand strategies in my new role. I quickly transitioned into product development after Macys saw my talent in this area.
Working on multiple Macys’ brands led me to source factories all over the world, collaborate with them to create collections that resonated across Men’s, RTW and Children’s. I became fascinated in thinking, not only about fashion, but also about the white space and what would appeal to each brand’s end consumer.
Everyone knows New York is fast paced, which I loved. What I loved less were the long and weary winters. I longed for the L.A. sun. I came back to So Cal to take a role as creative director in the fast-fashion business. I led a design team that created collections for many of the largest U.S. retailers. In the business world of Juniors, you’re bound to create collections non-stop, and at some point you eventually burn out. That’s what happened to me.
I took a short sabbatical to re-center. I spent a lot of time working on myself, both spiritually and physically, lots of meditation and workouts. Unable to find the right gym clothes, I decided to make them myself. With luck and good timing, I got a push through the Axe/Esquire Mentorship, and so EYSOM was born.
AM: Tell us about EYSOM.
SC: EYSOM is truly a concept and collection that’s been brewing in my thoughts for over a decade. I’ve always been a workout fanatic. I take as much pride in my workout clothes as my “work” clothes. I found it so perplexing why it’s always so difficult to find great gym shorts. Men can find great jeans, fitted blazers, and the best dress shirts with much less effort. Why don’t the same rules apply to workout clothes?
EYSOM stands for “Exercise Your State of Mind”. The name itself is really about the journey to find balance between the body and the brain. In the logo, we used the M for Mind to reflect the sign of the heartbeat to show this connection as a symbol of feeling good — inside and out. Wellness today includes physical and spiritual wellness — we are much more conscious today of this wholeness feeling. We want integrity and totality in all that we do.
The company really started from this emotion of wanting to offer men some thing better and different. I wanted to use really beautiful, yet technically functional fabrics. I wanted to create a line that was tailored, sporty and elegant at the same time. EYSOM is all about effortless designs that make you feel good when you put them on.
AM: How did it feel to have John Legend pick your brand to be included in the Axe Collective and what is the nature of this partnership?
SC: I was so honored. He’s such an amazing talent. In addition to being a style icon, he’s just an overall good guy. It was fantastic to have him be so into the brand. This encouragement gave me the extra energy to go after my vision. Had it not been for the Axe Collective, ESYOM would not have started when it did, and be where it is today.
AM: Presenting at NYFW Men’s must have been a great experience, tell us what it was like.
SC: It was such an amazing experience – it was so fast, but at that point in time, it was incredible to see the collection all come together. Now onto my third collection, it’s nice to see how the brand has evolved, but stayed true to that initial concept.
AM: You currently sell at Equinox, what's next for EYSOM?
SC: Equinox has been such a natural and organic fit. They’ve been hugely supportive of EYSOM. It has been an amazing way to expose their clients to the brand. Next for EYSOM, we are looking to organically expand in markets where there’s most interest – Europe and Asia.
Also, I am starting to explore categories that people have been asking for. We have been asked since day one to add swimwear, including by Esquire Fashion Director Nick Sullivan. During the time the product has been in Equinox, we’ve also had a lot of requests to create a women’s line.
AM: What are the trends in menswear for this spring/summer that we can find in your line?
SC: EYSOM is always about being effortless and stylish all day, and year-round. You’ll notice our introduction into camouflage, which is a trend across all activewear, but we’ve taken a much more designer approach by playing with our signature print in a range of more sophisticated colors including sage green, brilliant navy, and red.
With the activewear trend, we also have our assortment of joggers and sweatshirts.
AM: What are your favorite pieces in the EYSOM collection and where would we find you wearing them?
SC: Living in LA, you’ll find me wearing EYSOM about 90% of my life! I love the training shorts, because they have a tailored elegant feel that allows me to wear them in and out of the gym. I’m obsessed with the tops – usually in black, because the fabric is amazingly soft and you kind of don’t want to ever take it off.
AM: Where do you workout and what are your three favorite places to eat in NYC?
SC: I work out at Equinox obviously, but I’m also a regular at Barry’s Bootcamp because I love running. When I’m in NYC, I prefer running outdoors on the WSH or Central Park and just zoning out for miles at a time.
I am a big food lover, especially in NYC. I think the right balance of a great workout is that you can enjoy and indulge in some great meals. My consistent go-to places would be Morimoto for sushi and Balthazar after working out in Soho. Indochine is my classic staple.
AM: With the Spring Equinox and having 12 hours of sun, how are you going to take advantage of the day?
SC: I’m obsessed with being outdoors, so I always take advantage of the LA sunshine. Hiking Runyon Canyon in the morning, enjoying the beaches of Malibu and Laguna, and of course, dining al fresco whenever I can. My favorite is The Beverly Hills Hotel or the garden at Pailhouse.
AM: What Axe Collection items are a part of your rotation?
SC: The Axe Gold Signature dry spray and skin hydrator body wash.