BY PRIYA GULATI
Today, the word “cool” means what is “relevant” in our social media obsessed world. While we shop, we ask ourselves, is this piece cool? When we get dressed in the morning, we question, do I look cool in this? To Chloe Neu and Erica Coven, cool is just a construct; one is cool based on their own standards or interpretation of the word’s meaning. This concept led Chloe to found Cool is a Construct in March of 2020, and whether it was cool or not did not matter to her. Her initial aim was to bring the Parisian floral and feminine vibe to New York City, where she was a student at FIT until recently graduating. But the brand’s image has grown and developed alongside its cult-customer-following and partnership with Erica.
The elegant floral patterns and feminine silhouettes that once defined Cool is a Construct have now evolved into abstract prints and bright colors that are funky and loud in the best ways possible. The brand’s style has done a complete 180 since its founding, but it has kept customers absolutely hooked, gaining serious recognition. Erica and Chloe were prompted to make the brand-image change when they got bored of their current style, so they started listening a bit more intently to trends and the wants of their customers.
When the girls began taking feedback from customers, they saw their sales essentially explode. And now, customer collaboration has become the brand’s entire marketing and sales strategy. The Cool is a Construct TikTok account is filled with videos asking for customers’ feedback and ideas, essentially making the customer a partner in the brand. It is clear that the customer is really at the heart of Cool is a Construct: they help to design pieces, and given the made-to-order approach that the company takes, they are also given the ability to customize their purchases to their liking—whether that be with the silhouette, size, or color. Erica and Chloe do not put customers in a box—they remind us that “cool” is a construct by allowing us a say in the pieces they create.
Made-to-order clothes does not only mean that customers can customize their pieces, but also that everything is ethically made. As Erica says, the company takes a “slow approach to fast fashion:” Cool is a Construct follows trends and listens to what people want, but making it on an as-needed basis is more sustainable than manufacturing pieces before knowing how they will sell, allowing for little to no waste. The brand also believes in the power of young creatives, as the two college students work with small-scale, student textile designers and photographers.
Cool is a Construct has been a learning experience for both Chloe and Erica—Erica calls it a sort of “learn-as-you-go” process. Their advice for anyone looking to break into the fashion world is to jump in and take every opportunity that comes your way. “You’re a walking business card,” Erica says; it’s all about networking and putting yourself out there, any chance you get.
Cool is a Construct has certainly established itself as a valuable, up-and-coming player in the NYC fashion scene, with 39.1 K followers on Instagram and 48.8 K followers on TikTok. Chloe and Erica do not know the direction of their next collection, nor who’s going to be wearing the new pieces, but there’s comfort in this unknown. The ever-evolving nature of the brand’s aesthetic allows them to constantly redefine themselves; it’s all about the beauty of deconstruction, of not limiting themselves to just one style. So, hop on TikTok, let Cool is a Construct know what you want, and let’s see ours’, Chloe’s, and Erica’s dreams come to life.