Just over a week before his sophomore solo show at London Fashion Week, Chet Lo was surprisingly at ease in his new studio in Hackney, East London. Although the New York–born, London-based designer assured me he was just an “incredibly good actor”, I struggled to imagine him breaking a sweat; a big grin illuminating his face throughout our conversation.

The designer captured the imagination of the fashion pack back in 2020 with his tactile graduate collection from Central Saint Martins’ fashion design knitwear course presented during the pandemic. But it wasn't until after university that Chet’s career really took off. Fresh out of art school, locked in and short of income (much like many creatives during this time) the designer started selling his nobbly, luminous knits via Instagram. In a twist of fate, Chet’s designs sold exponentially, catching the attention of celebrities not afraid of making a statement like Dua Lipa, Doja Cat and Kylie Jenner. Perhaps most importantly, Lulu Kenndey’s attention was caught, a longtime veteran of sniffing out talent as the Head of fashion talent incubator Fashion East, celebrated for giving the first break for fashion stalwarts such as Kim Jones, Simone Rocha and Roksanda.

But Chet’s success wasn't just down to luck. The designer’s worth ethic and skill are what make him more than just an “It-piece” architect. Beautifully crafted textiles are what motivates Chet the most and his unconventional surface manipulation is what makes him unique. Adopting a specialised knitting technique to create his signature fabrics, inspired by the prickly (and stinky) Asian durian fruit, Chet’s chosen medium is no easy feat. “It’s a bitch and a half,” he laughs, “you’ll be making something and you’ll be so close to being done and it all falls off the machine and you have to start again.” A laborious practice that he believes unites a community of self-professed knitting “nerds” who have to love the craft to persevere with it. “The first thing I start designing is the fabric, I love creating textiles even if it is way more time-consuming. I’m obsessed with the process of being able to make it fully myself.”

Backed by the British Fashion Council’s NewGen initiative (which awards grants to small, independent British-based designers), for his first solo show last season, Chet wowed with a collection rooted in childhood nostalgia. His thistly fabric formed oversized accessories: Chinese conical hats, balloon-like bags and full-face masks. The “vibe” was largely upbeat, a mishmash of cultures blending Y2K club-kid aesthetic with cheerful nods to his Asian heritage.

For his AW23 collection, however, Chet is looking to his darker side. “This season, I really wanted to change the narrative of what people associate with my brand,” he says. “People always think it’s super happy and joyful, but I can also be quite serious.” The designer aims for this new collection to reflect the other side of his personality, through elevated looks that are wearable and refined. Inspired by the luminescence of deep sea creatures and plankton, Chet hopes to tell a new story this season, one that is authentic to him and his inner emotions. “I don’t regret a single thing, and I do enjoy being a designer and working with some beautiful people, but it's very difficult,” he says. “I don’t think it's for the lighthearted!”

Aside from the star-studded moments in his career so far, Chet remains humble, his proudest moment has been moving into his new studio. “We moved right after our debut show, it felt like we were spreading our wings and flying a little bit,” he says. “Being able to have a team of people working with me under one roof to create this vision makes me happiest.” We are excited to see what the fully-fledged Chet Lo offers this season.