BTS with the Empress, ChiChai@Empire

by, Mia@Empire
Reigning as one of the only female streetwear designers/owners in the Bay Area, Empire in the Air’s Francesca Mateo aka ChiChai@Empire has dedicated 2017 to the year of repurposing thrifted goods into every collection. In 2016, she planned out the spring, summer, fall, and winter collections with a socially conscious mindset. Aspire to inspire runs heavily within the brand, the team, and especially Empire’s newest summer collection.
ChiChai@Empire in a “Fresh Light” blouse
The 2017 summer collection “The Good New Days” is a play on words to what the we consider the “good old days” (the 90’s). But it’s 2017, and as much as we would love to go back, we can only move forward. “The process of building your Empire requires you to learn from your past, not hold onto it. For this collection, we took bits and pieces from the past to build anew.”
It’s about looking back at the past to help you move forward. Hence the name of the collection, “Good New Days.”
Though a smaller capsule, “The Good New Days” is composed of three items we are extremely excited about. First is the “Do Good” Tee, The “Do Good” t-shirt features childhood characters that took the time to recognize right from wrong. Thus we feature our favorite cartoon characters like Tommy and Susie, Arnold and Gerald, Reggie Rocket, and many more.
Original drawings for the “Do Good” tee
Originally, Product Designer, Jelyn and Francesca wanted to create a piece with 90’s superheroes, but with more thought, thinking about it there were more characters beyond the superheroes that had great morale.
Especially in all the heat of all the sh*t around the world, we wanted to bring some light to it by bringing back these cartoons.
Second is the ‘Slogan’ Mesh Dress Tee with our mission statement on a completely new type of product.
Lastly, our Vintage ‘Fresh Light’  tops which are up-cycled blouses that were revived with embroidered pieces of nature.
To be in 2017 and be able to say there is a team of volunteers who dedicate their time and passions to Empire is something Francesca is extremely proud of. She started the brand by herself in her dorm room at SJSU and soon enough her friends became inspired to join her team.
photo from “Art of Us” – February 2017
Beyond product design and being Empire’s founder, she plays an integral role in every aspect of the brand. Whether it be a marketing plan, a blog post, a photoshoot, Francesca has a hand in the planning (even this post!). She is the glue that keeps Empire all together.
All while juggling grad school, and now work, her personal life, and Empire, Francesca and the Empire team are brewing up exciting things for the community.
Having the a strong set of supporters within the Filipin@-American collegiate community in the Bay that is so amazing. It’s revolutionary! I have a sense of pride for being a Fil-Am artist. And this has expanded beyond San Jose State.
On July 29th, we are thrilled to be joining FAME for another year in San Jose. This August some of the Empire team and The Company are taking their immersion trip to the Philippines in collaboration with Project P.E.A.R.L.S. to teach dance workshops to children. Other events in August include our 5th annual Can I Kick It? Kickball Tournament and in September our first all women’s event. You are certainly in for a treat!
For now, view “The Good New Days” look book here and purchase a piece or two from the collection here. Follow us on social media @empireintheair to stay up to date on all things Empire.

One Comment Add yours

  1. just cath says:

    I love this post. So proud of Chichai and the whole Empire Team. Keep it up guys! xoxo

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s