As her eponymous label continues to expand, Chen Burkett celebrates the cosmopolitan, fashion-forward woman
A label devoted to the bold and stylish modern woman, Chen Burkett is a designer that appeals to the adventurer in everyone. Her New York-based brand combines classic pieces with an ethnic aesthetic that exudes a zest for life. As a child, she experienced a diverse reality where she was exposed to the beautiful landscapes and cultures of the Caribbean that have remained ingrained in her DNA.
Since 2013, Chen Burkett has released collections inspired by Burkett’s Antiguan roots and multi-ethnic influences. With inspiration taken from familial roots that also include Ghana and Great Britain, Burkett has taken her eponymous label to the forefront of the industry to cultivate a striking brand that masterfully merges today’s style infused with cultural pride.
In Her Own Words
CP: Who or what inspired you to become a designer?
Chen: Well, interestingly enough, I wanted to be an attorney. I studied accounting in college and was on track to study law and hopefully practice tax law. About 11 years ago my son Andrew was diagnosed with autism. During this time, I put my studies on hold, I lost my corporate job while juggling Andrew’s many daily appointments and therapy sessions. I took sewing classes during my secondary school years in Antigua and it was always something fun and exciting for me. Sewing quickly became an outlet at a time when I felt like the walls were closing in. One day my neighbor encouraged me to sell the skirts I made on Etsy and that’s where it all began.
CP: How would you say the fashion industry has changed from when you first started?
Chen: I think fashion has evolved so much over the years. One beautiful thing I admire is how environmentally conscious so many brands including ours have become. Born on an island I understand firsthand the impact careless manufacturing can have on our environment. I think while there is room for improvement across all industries, fashion at large seems to be heading in a good direction.
CP: What advice would you give to a Caribbean-based designer trying to break into the international market?
Chen: Network, travel, pitch, and do all things with grace, humility, and consistency. I really do believe your network is one of your most valuable assets in this industry. The world is yours, and in this social media space, we have endless opportunities to connect with people across the globe. I would say don’t be afraid to pitch to manufacturers, boutiques, buyers, etc. Be bold and work hard for what you want. Very important! On your journey be kind to people, look out for your ‘neighbor’ and be great to everyone along the way. Also, and equally important, give yourself grace, remind yourself daily you are talented and loved, and never ever give up.
CP: What do you think makes a designer a good one?
Wow, a great question. I think a good designer is excellent at understanding the client. A good designer is also a strong believer in servant leadership. To be a good designer I believe one must be compassionate, empathetic, and possesses a sharp business acumen.
A Sartorial Love Letter to Fashionistas
Going beyond merely, style, Chen Burkett brings substance to each piece, connecting with women that want to exude a look that is both powerful and sophisticated. The brand brings the full spectrum of color each season, with custom patterns that stand out in any setting. The flair on display with Burkett’s creations gives women the opportunity to mix and match effortlessly and in a singular way.
The Burkett brand boasts broad appeal and a focused approach
As a lifestyle brand known for featuring quality, bold clothing, and accessories, Chen Burkett meticulously sources each piece to produce collections that are simultaneously on-trend and progressive, the perfect complement to women that lead vibrant lives. Women that choose Chen Burkett have an expansive range of options from monochromatic pants and tops in brilliant hues to intricate patterns for maxi dresses, jumpsuits, blazers, bandeau tops, fitted shorts, scarves, and more. From gorgeous linen crafted from hemp, versatile African wax prints, tencel, and other fine fabrics, the label is committed to the production of clothes that not only make a scene but do so in a sustainable, ethical way to protect the environment.
A Brand On the Scene and On the Streets
One indicator of success in the fashion industry is not only how clothes are worn, but who is wearing them and where. Over the years, Chen Burkett has attracted the attention of several celebrities that have gravitated to her singular approach to fashion. Her designs have been been featured on red carpets on both sides of the Atlantic and worn by who’s who of famous faces, including film director and producer Ava DuVernay, Emmy Award-winning actress Niecy Nash, Erica Campbell, Toya, Wright, Alex Elle, Ray Royce, and more. They are drawn to her tailored and flared maxi dresses that feature beautifully printed African designs.
The Chen Burkett Brand Expands into the Bridal Market
She may be known more for her engaging patterns and use of color, but with her latest venture, Chen Burkett is proving that her artistry knows no boundaries as the brand enters the bridal market.
Enter Chen Burkett Bridal.
Teaming up with the Antigua and Barbuda Tourism Authority to bring attention to her native land, recently, Burkett has ventured into bridal wear and the results have already been received with wide acclaim. In partnership with luxury resort Carlisle Bay, Chen Burkett produced an island photoshoot in Antigua ahead of the debut of the brand’s bridal collection at New York Fashion Week.
Veering from the traditional approach to bridal apparel, Burkett’s line maintains some of the traditional aspects of wedding wear alongside the trends associated with the desires of today’s modern bride. The ‘Burkett bride’ is one intent on expressing themselves in the moment to create lifetime memories on their big day. From classic white satin, floor-length gowns, delicate lace dresses, beaded skirts with corsets, ruffled off-the-shoulder dresses, and more, there are plenty of options available to women wishing to make their special day even more unforgettable.
For the debut, the bridal collection was shot by noted New York City photographer Keith Major and featured intricately woven cotton and linen, silk and jacquard fabrics, and tailored lines that accentuated silhouettes. The expectation is for Chen Burkett to create bridal dresses that serve as the perfect backdrop for couples tying the knot in Antigua and Barbuda.
The Future Is Now
Not one to rest on her laurels, Chen Burkett has added philanthropy to her long list of achievements, with the intent to assist young women and men through mentorship in the fashion industry. With a commitment to her native Antigua and New York firmly intact, the brand continues on a path of excellence with no signs of slowing down.