Welcome to our newest editorial initiative, Who What Wear Spotlight, where we’ll be using our editorial platform, social following, and ad inventory to turn the spotlight on small businesses that need our support now more than ever. Each week, we’ll be highlighting a new fashion or beauty company. If you own a small brand and would like to be considered for the program, please apply here.
There are many inspirations behind the L.A. fashion brand Chelsea Mak—Chinatown, the late French monarchy, ’80s nightclubs, femininity, casual-cool L.A. vibes—some so specific the brand could have fallen deep into a dichotomous mess. But Mak, the founder and designer of her eponymous brand, has sewn them all together just right. Such a confident vision comes from leading a life with great intention. After studying at Parsons in New York, Mak made her way to L.A., where she worked at small brands such as Band of Outsiders and Dutch LLC. More than 10 years in design roles gave her the perspective to finally go out on her own.
In 2018, she launched Chelsea Mak into a fashion brand that felt deeply personal. The clothes are made in Shanghai, where Mak grew up traveling with her mom on business trips. Her mom would peel away from work so the two of them could explore fabric shops and tailors, which has a lot to do with why so many of Mak’s clothes are made with silks from Shanghai. From the intricate character she’s created to describe who wears ChelMak (as she lovingly calls it) clothes to the intimate shows she hosts at her home in Los Angeles, Mak cares more about creating a community that understands and appreciates her clothing for what it is than making hundreds of sales to people who don’t get it.