Breaking into the fashion industry is notoriously difficult. Building a successful brand in an industry shrouded in legacy and prestige is even more difficult. But breaking into the fashion industry and building a successful brand as college students? Just an average day for Cool Is A Construct founder Chloe Neu and Creative Director, Erica Coven.
If you haven’t seen Cool Is A Construct on your TikTok or Instagram feed with their colorful, exuberant designs, you haven’t been paying good enough attention. Launched in 2020, the ethically made, NYC-based brand is an it-girl label to watch.
After all, Addison Rae was spotted wearing Cool Is A Construct. Cool is a construct, but Addison Rae wearing your brand is certifiably cool.
When I asked my Brooklyn-native roommate if she was familiar with Cool Is A Construct, she replied, “Of course.” It’s incredible that in two years since its launch, the brand is already one to know. The fashion girls that get it, get it.
In honor of Women’s History Month, we chatted with Chloe and Erica about their journey as young female founders in the fashion space.
Can you talk about your journey creating and launching Cool Is A Construct?
Chloe: After my transfer from Vanderbilt to FIT, I knew it was time to bring my Cool Is A Construct dream to life. However, honestly, the launch was pretty bad. March 2020, I think I launched, but I started working on it in October of 2019. It was the start of the pandemic and like in the first month I legit sold one shirt. My vibe was originally inspired by Jane Birkin and dainty Parisian feminine dresses.
In the summer of 2020, I found Erica through mutual friends and DMed her on Instagram to model for the brand in a rose garden. It’s really crazy looking back on it that a DM started what would be a forever friendship and partnership. Erica transferred from WashU in St. Louis to NYU, so it was perfect that we were in the city together and could get right to work. We immediately had a whole new vision for how to transform the brand together and started working. We dropped the old aesthetic and started experimenting with more fun, creative, and bold patterns and styles. We turned to social media to really gain and grow an audience of loyal supporters and followers. With me as founder, and Erica as the Creative Director, we really are a dynamic duo. I can’t wait to see how we grow.
What is the significance behind the name, “Cool is a Construct?”
Chloe: I came up with it in middle school on the bus because we were discussing Tumblr names and I thought it would be an amazing Tumblr name, so I wrote it down in my notes. I also went to a super progressive school where we talked about everything in terms of constructs, like race and gender, so I feel like the name really fits perfectly for both the brand and me.
Erica: I love our brand's name and I’m so happy Chloe came up with it. I think it’s really important to who we are as people and our vision for the brand. There is so much pressure nowadays on social media and in life for achieving the “cool girl style.” What does it even mean to be cool? Our brand transcends the societal standards and notions of “cool” to be an individual experience of expression.
Where do you consistently look for design inspiration?
We love to listen to our followers and audience when looking for design inspiration because at the end of the day, it’s for them, and we want to include them at every step of the process that we can. This manifests through TikTok videos asking our followers questions such as “do you like this print? What styles are you loving lately?… etc.” In addition, we love to stalk Pinterest and constantly refresh through unique new design inspiration.
How would you define Cool Is A Construct’s aesthetic?
Cool Is A Construct is definitely a colorful and exciting creative direction with fun dynamic floral prints. We like to bring expression to the surface and really highlight the energy of both ourselves and our consumers to let personalities and identities shine through our style. If you’re looking for the minimal basics, I definitely don’t think we’re the right option. But if you’re down to experiment with bright mixes of pinks and greens, blue, lavender, an abstract painter, florals, geometrics, and more we are your girls!
As a young brand owner and entrepreneur in the fashion space, what struggles have you faced, and how do you overcome these struggles?
Erica: As college students, Chloe and I definitely have to balance our time out so we can dedicate energy to grow in our brand but also keep up with our classes at FIT and NYU. It definitely helps that we are doing it together and with our best friends. We have each other‘s back through everything, and especially this! It definitely was hard at the beginning to spread the word, but thanks to TikTok and media outlets such as British Vogue, Us Weekly, and Who What Wear, along with placements like Addison Rae, Maddie Ziegler, and more, we have seen success! Teamwork is really important here and we are each so lucky that we have each other to motivate and grow our passion project of Cool Is A Construct. With Chloe‘s incredible business skills and leadership, and my creative direction and collaboration, we really make the dream team.
Who is your dream person to dress in Cool Is A Construct?
We both absolutely adore Euphoria and Sydney Sweeney. She is such an icon and it would be our dream to get her in Cool Is A Construct!
Cool Is A Construct has gained significant traction on social media, with 48.8k Instagram followers and 3.1M likes on TikTok. Do you have a secret to social media success?
We really owe a lot of our success to our TikTok growth and active audience. Speaking directly to our followers and really engaging with who they are as individuals and what they like to wear and want to see is how we have been able to make clothing that they love and buy. We want our followers to be involved every step of the way and social media has been a big part of that. We aren’t afraid to get a little bit more casual, communicative and curious when using our social media platforms to ask our followers questions.
Did you always know you wanted to create your own fashion brand? When did you decide to embark on this path?
Chloe: I always had the idea for Cool Is A Construct, like even in middle school when I came up with the name. But I never thought I had the skills for it. Then when I moved back to New York after Vanderbilt and went to FIT, everyone was doing their own thing and I was super inspired and I felt like I could start. I was always super interested in creating my own brand. I adored fashion movies and going to the Met to the costume exhibit. I did a lot of fashion internships in middle and high school.
Erica: I always wanted to work in beauty. I never thought I would end up doing fashion until I met Chloe, but honestly, it was meant to be. I have enjoyed this whole process of growing and experimenting and just being creative and having fun. I love clothes because they really allow people to bring their personal style and identity to the surface as a celebration. Clothes are so meaningful and important to us and it makes me really happy to create pieces that make someone feel confident in themselves.
Who is your style icon?
Erica: Dua Lipa is absolutely my style icon, hands-down. I love the way she wears colors and isn’t afraid to be a little bored, and as Creative Director of Cool Is A Construct I definitely look to Dua as a muse in our aesthetic.
Chloe: I definitely agree with Erica about colors and creativity in style. I love Devon Lee Carlson’s vibe - It’s just so fun and exciting and I love how she always highlights the y2k aesthetic.
What are your plans to grow the brand? Where would you like to see the brand 5 years from now?
We definitely want to expand our exposure and sell on websites, instead of just from our site! and we always get so excited to see our placements on celebrities and influencers, and we really hope to get on some of our favorite ladies. In the near future, we really hope to produce a lot of creative collections we are proud of, take our social media and website content to the next level, and start wholesaling on some of our favorite sites like Revolve and Lisa Says Gah. We are so excited to see where we end up in five years and at the rate we are growing we know we will be proud of wherever we are.
Photography by: Courtesy Cool Is A Construct