Music boomed and cocktails flowed inside the newly opened Calligaris furniture store on Thompson Street last Wednesday. The retail space played host to the CHULO Underwear Fashion Showcase for Charity as part of New York Fashion Week.
As guests filtered in, they were able to watch the buff, mostly male models having their hair and makeup done by artists from the New York Institute of Beauty, who donated their services. To the delight of many, the models posed for pictures with guests before the show, ensuring plenty of social media exposure. And there was no need to feel guilty about being drawn in by the allure of male underwear models since, ultimately, it was all for a good cause.
CHULO, founded by Ricardo Muniz in June of 2015, is a not-for-profit clothing line that donates its earnings to local community-based organizations, particularly those offering educational, artistic and career programs to underprivileged youth.
“We also donate to scholarship programs that help young people further their education,” Muniz said in an email. “Our target population is marginalized and disaffected youth between 17 and 26 years of age, but many of the partners we have also work with youth, adults and elders.”
Muniz began his career nearly three decades ago as a New York City teacher for programs focused on high school dropouts of color in underprivileged neighborhoods before creating the CHULO underwear brand.
The models, with hair frosted by a dusting of fake snow, walked the aisles of the store, making their way between modern living room sets and glass dining tables. The underwear designs were wide-ranging, from black and white polka dots to rainbows to the American flag.
After hearing about the event from a friend, Mark Klarman and Bill Benish were intrigued by the prospect of seeing a show in an unusual setting and decided to come to the event.
“It just sounded exciting when she told me about it because you’ve got this cool Italian furniture and hot models with underwear, so what’s not to like?” Benish said.
The charity aspect of the evening did not go unnoticed.
“I hadn’t heard of it before,” Klarman said of CHULO. “But when I started to look at it I saw that it’s got more connections than I expected. It talks about marginalized communities, and there’s something authentic about connections to the city and to different communities that made me feel nice about being able to come to it. It’s definitely got the social consciousness to it that’s right up my alley.”
CHULO raised their funds for the evening from entry-ticket sales and various raffle items including jewelry, cosmetics and, of course, CHULO products. With raffle tickets going for $10 each, the organizers were setting themselves up for a profitable evening. Three of CHULO’s charities of choice were in attendance: Bronx Academy of Arts and Dance, UPROSE, a Latino community organization in Brooklyn that promotes sustainability and advocates for climate justice, and Tropical Image Inc.
Arelis Beato, founder and CEO of Tropical Image Inc., explained the all-encompassing nature of her Latin dance-based studio.
“I started teaching dance to children back in 2000,” she said, “and little by little it started evolving into what it is today, which is a full program that helps with leadership and career development.”
CHULO will also donate a portion of the proceeds to CITTA, a New York-based non-profit that provides health, education and economic assistance to geographically remote communities worldwide.