Chinatown Market Founder Mike Cherman Reveals Brand's New Name, Talks Imprint's Future

Brander founder Mike Cherman spoke to Complex about the inspiration behind the new name and logo, why it took so long to roll out, and more.


Image via Publicist


The streetwear brand formerly known as Chinatown Market has unveiled its new name: Market.

The company announced the change earlier this year following widespread backlash propelled by allegations of racism and cultural appropriation. Founder Mike Cherman and his team acknowledged the criticism and agreed a name change was both necessary and long overdue.

“The Asian American community is rightfully demanding all of us think and act more,” the brand wrote in a statement back in March. “We should have done this sooner but it is never too late to do the right thing. Today, we are announcing that we are changing our name. We are working with our partners and retailers to donate the proceeds from existing products and work to fund non-profits working with the AAPI community.”


The brand would spend the following months getting rid of its branded inventory, brainstorming name ideas, and attempting to lock down trademarks. Ahead of the unveiling, Cherman spoke to Complex about the long process as well as the inspiration behind the new logo and what he anticipates for Market’s future.

You can read the full Q&A below.

How did you come up with the name Market and this new logo?

We had a lot of internal conversations with the team and just us trying to analyze who we were as a company, and every single time we have these conversations, we recognize two things that: We are the market of the internet—how we operate as a brand and how we are just very much like a friend on social. And we are the market of the people. We very much try to be transparent, and be this thing that shows everything that we do from mistakes to everything else. And as we said those things, we recognize that there’s only one name we could have, and that was Market, you know. I think recognizing instead of going and creating some whole new identity and recognizing that this isn’t about a relaunch or a rebrand, but it’s about identifying who we were from the beginning.

What took so long?

I mean, you know, part of it is the unfortunate side of getting a trademark. We went through a number of names that we loved and we would get to a place where we realized, like, we couldn’t get the trademark and we had to start from square one again, you know? And we had that happen a few times to us and not that that’s a sob story, but it was like, you know, we went through a lot of that kind of stuff to realize like, oh, wait, the name was always in front of us. This should be the name. And we were lucky enough to be able to get the framework for this. So, you know, a lot of the other times it was like falling on our face multiple times in a row. But I think we had to go through all those iterations to realize like really what we are,

Talk to me about the logo.

Yeah. So this, this is more of a graphic that represents, you know, the history of who we’ve been and where we’ve been and where we’re going to be going in the future. You know, everything from our VW van, the sewing machine, the hand-screen printing, the school, the Chuck’s, the basketball, the print gun. It’s all this universe that we’ve created. And this smiley face is the personification of that. The registered R mark is meant to take this idea of something that it’s exclusionary in America, especially, and for us to take this and kind of create its own new meeting now and flipping it on its head and being a symbol of inclusivity, you know, and showing that we can kind of change that meaning for the community. So this graphic itself is just very much meant to show our fans that the DNA of our brand is not changing. We’re continuing to move forward. And obviously from the brand ethos of being transparent, you know, showing everything that we do, the mistakes successes and just being that fun brand that acts as your friends. And so I think we want to continue to do that and show our fans and we’re not abandoning them into what we do and who we are.


And can you explain a little bit more about the, I know I’ve seen the registered R circle, but just expand a little bit more on that and what it has traditionally meant?

Yeah. So the registered R is obviously, like, a registered trademark. It’s something that is meant to be this idea that once you have that, it’s not something that is meant to be shared and meant to be, you know, used with the community. But for us, that’s why we throw events where we bring our fans out and we engage with them and they, collaborate with us. Just like we have a whole Discord community online where these kids are actually constantly pitching us ideas. They’re, you know, making fun of the employees are having fun with it. And, like, we want to make this world something where they engage with us, just like an employee in our warehouse would do the same thing, you know? So I think for us, it’s flipping that meaning of the registered are being something that is exclusionary and really about making it a symbol of inclusion.

Has business been impacted since everything happened?

I mean, of course, you know. I think just one was, like, definitely. I think for us making sure that one, we were figuring out what was going to happen with the next step of the brand. So that was always the focus. I think number two was making sure that after we had those hard conversations and everything else that we were able to actually learn from those things and apply it to the future of this business. And at the end of all of that is just recognizing that, uh, I think through all of that work, like we had to keep on going, you know, but doing it in a smart way where we had all this inventory that was designed, it was already created and we just needed to get out there, make sure that we were doing the right things with that product. And, you know, through that, we were able to donate to a bunch of great foundations and, you know, be able to help the community. I think in working with each of them, it, it just felt like we actually were able to make a difference with them, honestly, with COVID we weren’t able to go do physical events or things like that, but we are able to donate the money, which helps them to make the initiatives. They had to have happened and to scale their organizations, to be able to hire and do what they needed to do.

You all had a sale to get rid of inventory?

It’s basically like all the rest of that year is just going, it’s going down to zero and just get rid of it because we’re obviously moving into this new phase of the brand. And so, you know, instead of burning stuff, like, we’ve always agreed that this is not about destroying the name of Chinatown, but it’s leaving it behind with respect and honor, and making sure that as we move forward, we do that.

What’s next for the brand?

Well, it’s doubling down in the biggest ways, right? Like, it’s continuing to try to do bigger partnerships, continuing to shake up this world where, you know, it’s easy when you’re a small brand to do it. And then as we continue to grow, we want to continue to shake it up, be experimental, break the rules, and also continue to showcase our, our team in the best way possible, because that’s how we grow our community. We don’t do it by just doing the coolest collabs and, like, you know, the normal fashion way. We want to continue to be the transparent platform that not only just does what we do as a brand, but also showcases the people inside of our brand will help grow our platform even further. And so, you know, it’s very loose right now, but as we kind of grow, we want to find ways to continue to personify our brand of what we are IRL.

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