The Elder Statesman for Huzza

The Elder Statesman sweater

In 2007, Greg Chait launched The Elder Statesman with a simple, albeit singular, challenge: craft the perfect cashmere blanket. The Los Angeles-based explorer-by-heart had been harboring a passion for the product, however unexpected, after being gifted a cashmere beauty that sparked a decade-long fixation on the craft. A chance meeting with hand-spinners, coupled with an experimentation with yarn and texture — led to the actualization of The Elder Statesman.

Just five years later, Chait was the winner of the CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund, one of the industry’s most prestigious awards. Here at Huzza, we took notice — first of Chait’s kid’s line and then, naturally, The Elder Statesman’s goods for adults. The coming-together of Chait’s free-spirited aesthetic and his unique attention to craft — plus a material seemingly born for northern Michigan winters — was an instant draw, a perfect luxurious utility for our shelves.

The Elder Statesman sweater

Last year, we were presented with the opportunity to work with The Elder Statesman on an exclusive collection for Huzza. Designed and produced in Los Angeles, the series melds The Elder Statesman’s luxurious cashmere with a spark of inspiration from our head Women’s Buyer: Tobin MacCready. This spark ignited, seemingly counterintuitively, in the midst of a bitter northern winter.

“I was in Michigan at the time, stuck inside on the verge of a polar vortex, not doing any traveling, so I just started to find inspiration anywhere I could: magazines, books, but online, really, through photos, whether it be color, shape, the outdoors,” MacCready said of the line’s origins. “I kept collecting photos of these beautiful cactus images and became enamored by the plants — dreaming of warm weather I suppose.”

Ultimately, the constant recurrence, of this Southwestern plant, coupled with MacCready’s interest in working with intarsia — a knitting style common to Chait’s work that allows for seamless transitions between different colored yarns — began to inform the line.

“We met with Greg in his studio in LA, and I presented a handful of ideas, the main one being the cactus,” Tobin explained. “He was down with the cacti, and we chatted a bit about different ways we could translate it to a sweater. Greg was quick to point out that the shape of a saguaro cactus would suit the intarsia process. A lot of ideas flew around, and we ultimately decided to create a whole series of items around this cactus theme.”

The Elder Statesman for Huzza

The Elder Statesman for Huzza

Over the months that followed, the line began to take shape — one that’s diverse in its components, but strung together by a single narrative. Greg had some history with the prickly plant. Specifically, the saguaro which was exclusive to the region he grew up in: “Given that I spent much of my life in Arizona, the cactus theme really hit me in a good way. In fact, I was surprised I hadn’t messed around with it yet which was an awesome sign.” The outcome, of Greg’s familiarity and Tobin’s inspiration, is a five piece collection that captures the imagery, colors, and texture of cacti, with silhouettes that, like the nature of Chait’s fine cashmere, are soft and effortless.

The staple item of the collection is a Classic V Sweater with Cactus Intarsia. This piece is made with a base color of charcoal grey as well as navy. A landscape of saguaro cacti spans the back of the sweater, handpainted in playful yellow, blues and green. This palette of handpainted colors was then applied to The Elder Statesman’s standard Favorite Tee Dress and Pashmina Shawl, both of which were dipped-dyed. The dip-dying process is done by hand and creates rippled tiers of color. Another sweater in the collection is the Chunky “Cactus” Cardi, a zip front cardigan with a custom ribbed textile design to mimic the texture of a cactus. The “prickles” made from cashmere, located on the front of the sweater, were made to look like the spines of a prickly pear. The final piece in the collection is the Hippie Shirt, which takes a departure from the cactus theme while still having a relaxed bohemian feel. The shirt’s silhouette was inspired from an old hippie shirt of Rad’s from the 1970s. One that Kate bought for him to wear after their wedding ceremony (although sources say he never did). The unique form is coupled with a vintage African cotton fabric that we fell in love with. This piece is bound to age with grace.

Greg’s creations stem from an authentic place. With a generous production approach unfazed by small runs, Greg can create on his terms. “The idea of being able to do these exclusive items for my accounts is what spurred me to start my factory.” Chait shared with us. “The common question was how is The Elder Statesman going to grow and keep creative… The only answer was to start our own factory.”
Elder Statesman is a brand that we can identify with, one that takes the time for details, that doesn’t assume quality, but knows quality forward and back. One that as Greg puts it, has an “Extreme curiosity and a love for the process and the customers.” A brand that is celebrating life the way they know how. For what’s the use of a cashmere sweater if not to wear to shreds while living to the fullest.

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Photography: Cody MacCready
Styling: Tobin MacCready
Makeup: Edin Carpenter
Writing: Brady Donnelly

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