Collaboration is such a synonymous act when it comes to creative pursuits. While working solo isn’t unheard of, cooperation and camaraderie are typically preferred—sometimes even necessary—when you’re building something challenging beyond yourself. Everything from a casual brainstorming session to a major production with a team of specific specialities can bring about results rich in diversity and inventiveness. For Los Angeles-based fashion label Goodfight, the act of collaboration runs much deeper than simply four people working together to make beautiful-looking clothes.
“I think we’ve always been very unified in terms of our core values, and not to sound cheesy, but also as human beings and what we want to do; what we want to put into the world. That’s why we came together originally,” explains Caleb Lin, one of the visionaries behind Goodfight. Along with his wife, Christina Chou who manages business strategy, the brand’s creative director, Julia Chu and brand designer, Calvin Nguyen, the four have conceptualized, built, and managed the fashion label since its launch in 2017.
“When we first started Goodfight, we said that we wanted to create a vehicle for us to be able to work on things together and work with people that we care about. The product that we wanted to make we hoped would be reflective of the kind of DNA that we believed in,” he explains. What’s cool about the four—and by extension the brand itself—is that you get that impression immediately after meeting them. It’s very clear that these are four individuals, each with their own strengths, expertise and perspectives, that synergize seamlessly for a greater good.
It’s the Voltron effect with Goodfight serving as the kickass giant robot (the fifth pilot being Caleb and Christina’s dog, Izzy).
And of course, there needs to be some type of nucleus that pulled them all together, and the obvious answer is fashion. “The three of us met at Opening Ceremony as shop kids. Caleb was our store manager,” Julia tells about how she, Calvin, and Caleb initially met. At that time, Christina, who runs strategy, operations, customer service, accounting, and so much more, was dating Caleb while working full-time as an entertainment agent. From early on, they all discovered a shared outlook on how fashion sits within culture, its purpose, and how it can be transformed.
But much like how Goodfight operates in general, the team didn’t just jump blindly into starting a clothing brand. Careful consideration, planning, and execution were part of their method from the get-go. “When we first came together, we actually didn’t know that we specifically wanted to do fashion. In the same vein, I think we’re very lucky in that all four of us have very different fortes,” Caleb explains. Through embracing each other’s uniqueness while recognizing their collective ethos, a family was born. The difference here is that, unlike many families, the fights these guys get into are healthy; they’re constructive and ultimately lead to stronger bonds and trust. Calvin confirms this by stating, “At this point, we just know each other so well that…” Julia then chimes in, “You know when to give up?” Calvin finishes in his typical calming voice with, “Yeah. Or it’s like if I don’t win the battle, I trust them enough to know that it’ll still work out.”
There’s a fluency in understanding each other that spans from creative references within a collection to navigating business growth. All four have a blunt perspective with each other and a level of mutual respect and honesty that comes with such an intimate team dynamic. “We’re around each other so much that we, for better or for worse, get each other’s cultural references. Like a lyric that Calvin’s referencing, or how we decide on a color. The customer maybe won’t realize the significance of the song—and there are so many layers to how we decide on certain things—but then Caleb is good at reminding us of that through-line and communicating that to the customer,” Julia says, with Caleb adding, “what we fight about a lot of times are more about aesthetics. What we don’t fight about is values. we are constantly communicating with each other as well because we know it’s not just reflective on us as individuals, but also the whole group, collectively.”
Christina then steers the conversation into an interesting avenue that taps into Eastern and Western viewpoints that all four members straddle. “Maybe it’s something more of a Western culture thing. Not only are we not afraid to get into a fight and have conflict, but I think we actively take steps to have those crucial conversations early, as much as we can in being a young brand.” As for the more Eastern philosophy, Caleb adds, “But at the same time, we also do have that sense of collectivism as well, where it’s like, we’re doing this for each other, not just for ourselves as individuals.” It’s a beautiful equilibrium from both attitudes that seems to organically push all members towards a level of quality that resonates with them. “We trust each other in terms of the work that comes out, and none of us are going to put something out that’s half-assed or that we’re embarrassed about,” says Caleb.
Julia: “You know when to give up?”
Calvin: “Yeah. Or it’s like if I don’t win the battle, I trust them enough to know that it’ll still work out.”
From running showrooms around the world to styling celebrities, to managing a successful e-commerce business and now their own brick-and-mortar retail space, the team have reached a point of reflection on where the label stands. “Especially now that we’re here in a store, we know our customers. We still have an online business that’s quite robust, but [now] we have regulars. We have people that, when a newsletter drops, they’re faithfully in here 30 minutes later. And that’s great. And I think it’s a privilege. We’ve been kind of waiting for it,” Christina explains.
Catering to their existing community was something they organically developed since the brand’s launch, but now the team wants to take it a step further to help influence the people and entities around them. Christina continues, “There’s a desire to do something around community. We’re next to a great non-profit called Good Shepherd Center which houses single moms and families. They’re literally right next door so we’re thinking of how to engage with them.”
And then there are the inward-facing aspirations for Goodfight. While the team can help serve the greater community, the label itself can also be an ethically and values-driven platform for anyone joining while continuing to push the fashion envelope.
Caleb explains this further with, “We want to build a really healthy, evergreen business that’s not dependent on the fashion calendar. We want to continue to make good things and give people freshness each month—not too much, it’s a careful balance—as well as [provide] basic things [for a larger team.] We want to hire a kid for [the retail space] downstairs and be able to give them health insurance, for example…”
This somewhat new reflection from all four has only strengthened their camaraderie, and while we’ve explored this distinctive connection Caleb, Christina, Julia and Calvin have towards each other, what does that mean for the grand scheme of things as a clothing brand? After understanding their unique connection, it’s safe to say that the fluidness in their dynamic leads to incredibly detailed and layered products. Yes, Goodfight has always been known for niche narratives, inspiring newsletters and boundary-pushing designs, but we’re now seeing that times ten.
As the team evolves, so does the brand. It’s a refreshing aspect to rely on, knowing that not only will we continue to see holistic quality in its products, but growth from within and its surroundings. And while there are many brands that have successfully tapped their own clique, the way Goodfight is doing it is bar none. It’s rare to see such a healthy team bond, and with its inevitable growth on the horizon, we may soon be seeing a much more powerful Goodfight Voltron made up of myriad pilots, all harmoniously operating in their respective roles but forming en masse to create the next great fashion movement.