Earlier this year, streetwear label Chinatown Market decided to change its name following ongoing conversations online, writing, "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."
Now, Chinatown Market is back under a new name: MA®KET.
"Over the past few months, [we've] had internal conversations. We went through a couple of names we loved, and we were psyched. Then we would go through the legal process, and realize we couldn't own that name and be back to square one," Mike Cherman told us.
Since Mike founded the label in 2016, it has grown to become one of the most recognizable names within streetwear, particularly famous for its signature smiley face basketballs and other logo items. That part of the brand DNA is here to stay, Mike reassures us. "[The name change] wasn't about the product we were making. It was about a name that wasn't ours to own and acknowledging and moving forward from that. The classic DNA of the brand, all those motifs will continue," he tells us, adding, "It's just making sure that we're honoring the fact that this was just not a name for us to own and move forward in the right way."
Following the increase in violence towards the AAPI community earlier this year, discussions about whether the label should keep its name arose on social media, with many encouraging the change. "We need to have conversations, listen to people," Mike says. "Sometimes people will say that these aren't even our customers. That's not what the important thing is because we're not just doing this to sell clothes, we're doing this to create a community that people can be proud of. If we were here to try to defend something, I wouldn't be able to live the rest of my life doing that."
MA®KET is all about boosting its community and is here to grow and learn by constantly listening to what is going on around us and what its followers are saying. Using social media platforms including Instagram, Twitter, and Discord, the brand has managed to build a community of engaged followers and fans of the brand, and can directly communicate with them. "Two people from our Discord are now dating, you know?" Mike tells us. "It's just really awesome to see because that Discord is very much at the soul of what the company is."
Changing the name and taking responsibility wasn't all easy, though. The brand spoke to members of the AAPI community, making sure that all the tough conversations were being had, and that the label could learn from all of the feedback and criticism. "Those hard conversations will lead us to have the right conversations and will help us take this step into the future in the right way."
So what's next for MA®KET? Well, community. "Obviously we're going to continue to double down with how we are as a brand, continuing to put forth our communities, showcasing our employees, and giving them opportunities to have platforms that showcase who they are. There are so many kids in my office who have their own little projects, brands, and little things."
With a new name, a new perspective, and a newfound sense of responsibility, the brand is ready to embark on a new journey. "I think we all recognize that we've got something to build and we want to create more and more places for our community to be safe and to have a place to thrive."
The first MA®KET collection is now available to shop online and features streetwear staples including hoodies, sweats, and shorts with bold graphics and the new logo.