In the rapidly evolving fashion industry, Claire Robertson-Macleod‘s brand, Tank Air, stands out for its remarkable blend of sultry 1990s and Y2K-inspired styles. Since its launch in 2019, the brand has garnered an impressive following, especially among young women, who resonate with its nostalgic yet forward-looking designs.
Robertson-Macleod, a native of Hong Kong with Thai-English heritage, has a deep connection to fabrics and fashion that dates back to her childhood. She reminisces about her formative years spent in Hong Kong’s Sham Shui Po, sourcing materials for her aunt’s fashion line in Thailand. Pursuing her passion, she moved to London and the U.S. for further studies, only to later relocate to Bangkok. However, it was her shift to Los Angeles that turned the tide for Tank Air, helping it blossom and captivate a wider audience. Celebrities like Bella Hadid and Olivia Rodrigo have since joined the brand’s growing list of admirers.
Delving into the brand’s name, Robertson-Macleod shared an intriguing tidbit: “Many assume the name comes from ‘tank tops,’ but it’s actually an anagram of my cousin Katrina’s name.” For her, Tank Air is more than just a label; it’s a tribute to the strong women in her family, particularly her mother and aunts. These women, with their impeccable style and wit, left a significant imprint on her, shaping her worldview and aesthetics. She envisions her brand as a way of extending their legacy, helping other young women feel empowered and find their identity.
The designs by Tank Air are an ode to functionality and timeless appeal. Robertson-Macleod emphasized her love for pieces that can be worn repeatedly, making them a staple in one’s wardrobe. She often subtly incorporates Thai culture into her designs, like the Butterfly top and midi skirt, which were inspired by her mother’s old Thai silk sarongs. This subtle nod to her heritage adds depth to her creations, making them more personal.
Tank Air maintains a commitment to quality, with all the cutting and sewing processes undertaken in Los Angeles. The knitwear, though, holds a special connection to her roots, with the sampling done in Hong Kong and the production in Shanghai. “China’s expertise in knitwear is unparalleled,” she proudly states.
Building Tank Air wasn’t a walk in the park. The brand’s growth trajectory has been slow but steady. Robertson-Macleod attributes its success to the strong community she’s built over time, including photographers, models, and other collaborators, many of whom have become close friends.
Acknowledging the influence of celebrity endorsements, she noted how one such endorsement of Tank Air’s essentials provided the brand with greater financial flexibility. This enabled her to venture into more innovative designs.
As for the future, Tank Air aims for sustainable growth, ensuring that quality remains uncompromised. When asked about celebrities she’d love to see donning her brand, Rihanna, Lisa from Blackpink, and American rapper Sexyy Red topped her wishlist.