Creating throwback threads

Ryan Carter

With a reverence for the surf- and-skate culture of their youth and

Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis’ casual sophistication, Cheyann Benedict

and Claire Stansfield think they have created “the perfect T-shirt.”


Benedict and Stansfield run C&C; California, a Burbank- based

T-shirt business that in the past year has burst onto the fashion

scene with a new twist on the T: throwback appeal that includes a

softer, thinner, fabric, inspired by the 1970s California chic styles


and vintage, aged shirts.

Their colorful short- and long-sleeve shirts and tank tops -- with

no audacious writing or prints -- are made sightly longer and

narrower, cover the stomach, and are easier to layer, key elements in

bringing back a simpler but more sophisticated look, the pair said.

The results are vibrant combinations and names, such as Electric Aqua

Extra long sleeve under an Icy Lemon Yellow Classic short sleeve. Or

an Astro Turf Green Tank Top under Bubble Gum Pink Angel Sleeve.


“Cheyann and I were both interested in fashion, but we both

coveted what we thought was the perfect T-shirt that we could only

find at thrift stores or in your closet for 20 years,” Stansfield

said. “We wanted to create a classic T-shirt that you could layer,

that felt like a vintage shirt, with vibrant colors.”

Benedict grew up in San Diego and Stansfield moved to Malibu when

she was a teenager. Both were influenced by the styles of 1970s

surf-and-skate culture. They mixed the California vision with their


mutual admiration of the classic style of Onassis and Ali McGraw and

Steve McQueen, among other casual chic-style icons.

“We took the sophistication of our mothers who were inspired by

Ali McGraw and Jackie O, and we added the 1970s youth skater culture

influence,” Stansfield said.

This spring, the pair set out to create a 100% cotton fabric they

describe as light, butter-soft and ideal for layering.

The ingredients in the materials are under lock and key but the

result, they said, is the perfect T-shirt. And from the response, the

pair has not only found only a niche, but also widespread attention

from the media and well-known personalities.

Oprah Winfrey wore a C&C; California shirt on her show this year.

Actress Kristin Davis wore a C&C; shirt on a recent episode of HBO’s

“Sex and the City.” The shirts have garnered acclaim from buyers and

boutique owners. And Visa recently selected the firm to appear in a

nationwide media blitz directed at small-business owners.

Stansfield, 38, was a professional actor for 12 years and

Benedict, 34, was once a photographer.

“We wanted to make our rules and decided to make our company,”

Stansfield said.

From a garage, the pair moved into a 1,000-square- foot space on

Alameda Avenue. About $3 million in sales later, Stansfield said the

next step is a babies’ and children’s line in the spring. Their wares

sell at places like Nordstrom, Billy’s Fashions in Tarzana and Fred

Segal stores in Los Angeles and Santa Monica.

“We worked really hard putting together our samples, and naturally

had a very clear and specific vision,” Benedict said. “We set out to

make T-shirts we could not find anywhere else, and we were really

clear on what that meant for us.”

It has paid off.

“There was a big hole in the market, and we were able to fill it,”

she said.