BU Today

Arts & Entertainment + Campus Life

Meet the Designer behind Chemical X Fashion Company

Paolo Moreno (CGS’18) has dreams of being a brand mogul

Paolo Moreno (CGS’18) assisted well-known fashion photographer Marco Glaviano this past summer and accompanied him to Fashion Week in Milan. Photos courtesy of Moreno

Paolo Moreno (CGS’18) assisted well-known fashion photographer Marco Glaviano last summer and accompanied him to Fashion Week in Milan. Photos courtesy of Moreno

In early November, Paolo Moreno announced on Instagram that he was releasing a new collection of sweatshirts as part of his clothing line Chemical X. He expected them to be sold out within a week. “Since I don’t drop too often, it increases the hype on everything and makes it more exclusive,” Moreno says. “I advertise once, and that’s it.”

Moreno (CGS’18) cofounded Chemical X, a clothing brand conspicuous for its massive “X” logo, two years ago with partners Pedro Monestier, a former Parsons School of Design student who designs the clothes along with Moreno, and Miami photographer Matias Vasquez, who helps with branding and promotion. Moreno came up with the name after hearing the term “chemical X” on TV.

“In math, the ‘X’ is unknown, it’s subtle,” he says, wearing a white hooded Chemical X sweatshirt and black joggers to an interview with BU Today. “I like how people question it and are not too sure what it is.”

The trio was initially inspired by the rapper A$AP Rocky and the brand Supreme. Today, they collaborate to create Chemical X’s signature hooded sweatshirts, nylon jackets, turtlenecks, tote bags, and beanies. As for why they’ve opted to design streetwear and not high fashion: “That’s what we wear,” Moreno says, “and it’s affordable. I hate how some clothing is priced so high.” The brand’s sweatshirts, for instance, typically run $60. The company also sells “mystery boxes” with several pieces of surprise clothing for various prices.

In the two years since its launch, Chemical X has achieved a certain level of notoriety. The company signed with influential celebrity promoter Phil the Mayor to showcase the collection in a pop-up store at the Miami venue Appt Only in March 2017. Moreno sheepishly shows a video someone sent him of a teenager outside his Miami home shouting, “We found the makers of Chemical X!”

Chemical X sells hooded sweatshirts, nylon jackets, turtlenecks, tote bags, and beanies.

Chemical X sells hooded sweatshirts, nylon jackets, turtlenecks, tote bags, and beanies.

To make the clothes, Moreno and Monestier first sketch the designs by hand, then redraw them using Photoshop. The designs are then sent to local manufacturers Xtreme Silkscreen and Tully Ink for screen printing. Items are normally sold online, but Chemical X has had a lot of luck with pop-up shops, like the one held in October at local art gallery space Market at Casablanc alongside fellow designers StayCoolNYC and DDrey Design.

In addition to the brand’s artsy promotional shots, Moreno peppers the campus with “Chemical X” stickers, similar to artist Shepard Fairey. His biggest inspirations for the clothing line at the moment are Cav Empt and the designer Raf Simons, the chief creative officer at Calvin Klein.

The November release marked the launch of Chemical X’s new line, Introspection, which features a hand-scrawled poem about loneliness written by the designers, with a picture of a man’s face superimposed over it. The Introspection designs “cost more to make since the design took months to create,” Moreno says about the $70 price. “It was very detailed.” An upcoming line, Antidote, is inspired by labs and science, and he may try to shoot promotional photos in a lab to advance the line, he says. He produces only a certain number of each design, and the limited quantities usually sell fast. “I like to move on from my collections,” he says.

The Chemical X logo has even been placed on sneakers and ski masks.

The logo has even been placed on sneakers and ski masks.

clothingWhile Moreno was vacationing with family in St. Barts around New Year’s Eve 2016, a family friend introduced him to famous fashion photographer and architect Marco Glaviano at an art gallery, which led to a summer gig with Glaviano. “This guy shot all the models of the 1980s and 1990s, like Cindy Crawford, and his work appeared in Vogue,” says Moreno, who assisted the photographer for a month in Milan and accompanied him to Fashion Week there. It was a chance to see up close another side of the fashion industry. “I helped out with lighting a shoot and setting up, and got to meet people in the business,” he says.

This summer Moreno hopes to intern at a magazine in Los Angeles, and eventually turn Chemical X into a bigger brand with its own magazine or modeling agency.

“The clothing is a lot more meaningful than the person wearing it may realize,” he says. “It has to do with real life. There are brands out there that put anything on their clothes that crosses their mind. Every time we design something we have a theme, and there’s a story behind it.”

Amy Laskowski

Amy Laskowski can be reached at amlaskow@bu.edu.

11 Comments on Meet the Designer behind Chemical X Fashion Company

  • Sarah G on 11.06.2017 at 7:58 am

    I’m failing to understand how creating a logo and then having other people put it on clothes that yet other people have designed and produced make Paolo a designer of a clothing line. By this logic, wouldn’t anyone who ever had something made by Cafe Press be a designer too? Or is there some other element, like do I need to get pictures of my friends looking pensive wearing “Sarah’s Amazeballs 21st Birthday Crew” hoodies?

    • Jose on 11.06.2017 at 11:58 am

      genius comment!
      lets see those new Amazeball hoodies. I’m sure people will love it! I also bet it will sell very well

    • D - Mula on 11.06.2017 at 4:44 pm

      Good comment, but using blanks doesn’t make someone less of a designer. The design just shifts focus to the graphics, chosen blanks, placement, type of print, etc, there are a lot of factors that go into a producing clothing. Even high fashion design have have used blanks before, is raf simons consume collection. All that being said this specific brand is super boring and the design is not interesting in the least… this is basically just a kid who follows streetwear and not even anything unique just what everyone knows

      • Luca on 11.06.2017 at 9:14 pm

        It’s hard to know if a brand is interesting or not based on one article. Maybe taking a look at the Instagram account would allow you to know more about it. From models, other designs, photo shoots, aesthetic… (@chemical.x)

    • Stix on 11.15.2017 at 6:02 pm

      Paolo is a designer and you are not because (1) “happy birthday” is not a design (and this is a lame idea for a hoodie), (2) the X designs are unqiue and appreciated by many, and (3) people who fail to understand are usually intellectually challenged. You should change your name to Sarah L

  • Jessica on 11.06.2017 at 11:02 am

    This logo looks a bit like the Power Puff Girls Chemical X…

    • Luca on 11.06.2017 at 9:39 pm

      Sugar, spice, and everything nice
      These were the ingredients chosen
      To create the perfect little girls
      But Professor Utonium accidentally
      Added an extra ingredients to the concoction–
      Chemical X!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
      Thus, The Powerpuff Girls were born

  • Ignacio on 11.08.2017 at 12:10 pm

    @Sarah @Mala Maybe before you judge a brand take a look at what it’s currently working on. If you took a couple minutes to do some research (like on the instagram page @Chemical.X ) before you speak you would see clearly that the brand produces some VERY UNIQUE designs that take a lot of work and creativity. The logo is obviously the face of the brand just like in any large corporation so you can’t really say it’s not unique simply because you think it would be easy to replicate. Also if making your own brand of clothing AND shooting ALL of your fashion lines with your own models doesn’t make you a fashion designer l don’t know what does…

  • Stefano on 11.15.2017 at 11:53 am

    @Sarah G you just don’t see the vision. You probably wearing Old Navy right now.

  • Santi on 11.15.2017 at 5:04 pm

    @Sarah G Paolo and Pedro are fashion designers because they create products which evoke emotion, the true essence of art. If look further into the brand and its depth, then you might be able to understand why people love Chemical X and why their products sell out in a matter of days. If you cant understand this, then you probably lack depth yourself. It wouldn’t surprise me if you were one of those people who go to a museum (while wearing a tasteless “Sarah’s Amazeballs 21st Birthday Crew” hoodie) and think the pieces are “just a bunch of splashes of paint.”

  • Will M. on 11.15.2017 at 9:18 pm

    Awesome! Seen some work around BU and think it’s a cool concept. Keep up the good work.

Post Your Comment

(never shown)