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First things first: style icon Eva Chen is a huge proponent of the “Canadian tuxedo”.
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“I think we should embrace the Canadian tuxedo and I applaud Canada for introducing this concept to us,” the multi-hyphenate fashion guru, bestselling author (and mom!) laughs during our conversation, as we discuss the hotly-debated denim-on-denim look. “If you wear a denim shirt — like an oversized menswear-style denim oxford shirt — with a really cool pair of, like, straight denim jeans …” Because denim, she insists, is “truly a neutral.”
“It’s timeless,” she says. “It’s never gonna go out of style.”
Chen’s deep and abiding love for all things denim may have influenced the styles in her latest venture — a collaboration with H&M on a brand new kids’ collection — but she says the collection’s biggest inspiration came from the “confidence and joy” of childhood.
“As an adult, I’ve always loved kids clothes because they’re always worn in such a fun, joyful way,” Chen says. “I feel like it’s something that kids have … the way they dress, they think nothing about pairing stripes with ruffles with polka dots with, you know, a nature print like a tree and leaf and mushroom.”
When it comes to the latter, Chen says that her own three kids (Ren, 8, Tao, 6, and 2-year-old River) “absolutely” had an influence on her designs. “This collection was really inspired by my kids’ love for the great outdoors, down to every detail, down to the mushroom that’s on the green nature print,” she says. “My 6-year-old son Tao went through a phase where he was obsessed with learning about different classifications of mushrooms.” (The red-and-white type in the print, she informs me, is called the “fly agaric” — thanks, Tao!)
In designing the collection, it was important to Chen that each piece would be wearable for all kids, so it’s largely gender-neutral.
“In this new generation of dressing, you know, kids want to wear what they love and feel comfortable in. I don’t think any of the normative standards of ‘Pink is only for this gender,’ or ‘Rugby stripes are only for that gender,’ apply so much anymore,” she explained. “So the color palette of this collection, it’s pretty neutral, [with] soft pops of green and purple that can be worn by anyone.”
Sustainability is also a major component of the H&M x Eva Chen collection, as Chen is a huge fan of hand-me-downs.
“When you look at the collection, you’ll see that a lot of the pieces are very trend-forward. But at the same time, there are a lot of timeless elements to it. And that was a conscious decision of mine,” she says. She goes on to detail the huge boxes of hand-me-downs she used to ship to her friend Erica — and now that Erica’s child is outgrowing them, she’s sending those same clothes back to Chen for her youngest to use. “There’s a sense of paying it forward and when something is pre-loved, pre-worn; like that perfect pair of jeans or that perfect jean jacket that’s already soft to the touch. We designed this collection to have that feeling already,” she says. The feeling of perfectly worn-in fabrics without the actual wear-and-tear? Genius!
The collaboration was a natural fit for Chen, because H&M is equally focused on eco-friendly solutions and the importance of passing things on. “As part of H&M’s goal to become fully circular by 2040, the collection was designed with ‘pay it forward’ durability in mind in materials such as recycled cotton, recycled polyester and TENCEL Lyocell,” the company said in a press release. “Each style is meant to be loved now — and later, when it’s outgrown, it can be passed down to others. H&M aims to have 100% recycled or other sustainably sourced materials by 2030 and is proud to have its kids’ department currently stand at 91% recycled or other sustainably sourced materials.”
If you ask Chen what her favorite piece is, it’s like you’ve asked her to name a favorite child. “Literally too many to name!” she gushes. When she does manage to narrow it down to just a couple, it’s no surprise that — you guessed it — the denim pieces are the standout: “I love the denim jacket that has the soft, fluffy pile lining on the inside.”
Teddy-Fleece-Lined Denim Jacket
In fact, when I ask her opinion on what kids’ wardrobe essentials are worth spending a little more on, it’s outerwear hands-down. “Really nicely made outerwear because it takes a beating. Right? It’s foundational,” she says, adding that vests are also a staple. “I love a vest for kids … kids want their hands free so that they can climb, so that they can build, so that they can just, like, run around doing airplane arms while screaming at the top of their lungs.”
Teddy-Fleece-Lined Denim Vest
So whether your kids are doing “airplane arms” or being the coolest kid in the school cafeteria, they can be properly outfitted in a fun, affordable, sustainable wardrobe that’s both trendy and timeless. Because if Eva Chen says it’s in style, it’s in style. Even that Canadian tuxedo.
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