Chick of the Month: Christine Laiby Susie K. on Feb 1, 2012 • 1:40 pm •
You may know Christine Lai as half of Christeric and a designer for Unif and Play Me Jeans. With a cult-like following for both her blog and brand, Christine poses pretty for high-quality style shots when she isn’t busy developing her latest collection. We listen as Christine delves into the origins of her brands, her favorite shopping district in Tokyo, and her unique sense of style.
Tell us about your attraction to fashion. Did you always imagine a career in design or were there other lines of work you planned to pursue?
I take after my grandma who could never buy anything and not alter it some way or another. I guess growing up with her and watching her rip and sew her clothes to fit to her liking made me naturally interested in design.
What is your biggest influence? We see a lot of grunge and 90s elements in both Unif… of all the decade’s fashion icons, whose closet would you want to raid?
I can’t really pinpoint what my biggest influence is since I’m kind of all over the place but the 90′s look has apparently been an element that is most prominent in my wardrobe/design. I’ve never even noticed until blogs kept saying how grunge my outfits were…I guess it just comes out naturally, being that I was raised in the 90′s. I would definitely like to raid Jimi Hendrix‘s wardrobe for his trippy fur lined coats!
How has the intersection of your clothing lines and your blog Christeric affected the development of both? Which came first?
UNIF definitely came first. Eric and I were struggling to keep the line afloat before we started the blog, the Twitter, the Facebook, the Instagram. I can’t even begin to describe what a tremendous help it has been to open up our line to the cyber world. It was as if all the freaks and weirdos that shared our aesthetic came together. UNIF and its customers finally found each other…it’s actually quite romantic if you think about it because UNIF had been struggling for years before that. It feels nice to be able to connect with people that appreciate your work and I don’t think it could’ve been possible without the blog and other social media tools. Thanks interweb!
Much of your wardrobe seems to be from nameless vendors in major Asian cities or killer vintage buys. If you’re willing to spill your shopping tips, I would love to know how to acquire similar pieces!
I wear a ton of vintage and am constantly searching for more. It’s kind of a problem. The Koenji area of Tokyo is by far my favorite place to buy vintage pieces. Most of the stuff comes from the States, so it feels a little weird paying for it in Japan, but definitely worth it.
How did you and Eric meet? What are the benefits and challenges of working together?
We met at my old job, where we worked in the same building. Believe it or not, working together has actually been pretty easy these past 4.5 years! As trite as it may sound, we have a lot of respect for each other’s work and in the end, I think it helps us to encourage each other as best as we can. We also get to carpool!
Who designed your Christeric (Christine + Eric) logo nameplate?
Eric did! It’s funny because that’s actually a necklace he designed for me as a Christmas gift 4 years ago. We had just started dating and Hysteric Glamour was my favrorite brand…and I would always joke that we should do a brand called Christeric Glamour…He actually went out and made a necklace!
Speaking of Christeric signatures, who develops all the kickass wordplay on Unif tees (i.e. “Jesus Saves, I Spend”)?
Eric is definitely the master of the witty tees although I have contributed to some (probably the bad ones). He’s a genius. If you go through the UNIF blog I guarantee you some good laughs.
The Unif crew is smaller than I anticipated with only a few employees, all wearing many hats. How do you guys pull off such a hit making brand?! It’s really impressive.
Thank you! We just work together really well and hope to build this thing into something we can all be proud of. Everyone contributes a little bit of everything regardless of their job title, which I think is important to keep everyone feeling relevant and important.
Can we expect to see more footwear offerings from Unif? Maybe something in between the towering HellBound and the comfy Hellraiser? …a sandal perhaps?
I hope so! We are trying to take it slow with the footwear and not do a million styles at once. I am working on a couple designs that you guys will probably see this coming Project!
Sum up your sense of style in 10 words.
Anything but track suits and whatever makes me look taller.