LaQuan Smith has made waves in his nearly ten years in fashion — from dressing celebs like the Kardashians and Lizzo, to launching capsule collections with ASOS. Even with so many accomplishments, Smith has no intention of slowing down.
Smith is known for his glamorous, luxury aesthetic that blends elements of streetwear and opulence to create high-glamour pieces that seamlessly integrate into any wardrobe. This feat will be made even easier with Smith’s Cash by Cash App collaboration, which drops on October 19 and features staples like leather bomber jackets and logo-printed catsuits.
Inspired by glam icons like Gianni Versace, Azzedine Alaïa, and Yves Saint Laurent, Smith sees his label as the next American luxury brand, following in the footsteps of Tom Ford. “Once they discover the brand and they wear LaQuan, they're not just wearing a dress. They're not just wearing a random designer. There is an experience that goes with wearing LaQuan Smith,” he told Bustle.
Ahead, I chatted with Smith about his new collection, the importance of diversity, and his goals for the next ten years.
How is your collection with Cash App making LaQuan Smith more accessible?
The collection consists of four different styles that women can incorporate from day to night, putting together a capsule collection that felt obtainable, with a sense of luxury and [wearability]. This is going to be a great kickoff to creating a range for women who want to have that same sort of relatable luxury experience, but just at a more reasonable price point.
You’re known for having a diverse runway, which isn’t something every brand can say. How do you incorporate diversity and inclusion into your brand ethos?
Being a designer of color from from Queens, my entire existence is a contribution to diversity and inclusivity. It's only natural that's what I represent, even when it comes down to castings. That's one of the most exciting things about our runways — you feel like she can come straight off the runway and into the streets of New York City or Paris. Whether it's size inclusion or having trans [people] in the shows. It's about having a fierce attitude. That's what LaQuan Smith is all about — celebrating the idea of feeling empowered and feeling confident no matter who you are or what you represent.
As a Black woman and a plus-size woman, that very much resonates with me. Thank you so much for the work you do.
I think at the end of the day, every designer has their own aesthetics, every woman has their own [tastes]. Every woman wants to feel desirable at the end of the day. I've always led with that in mind in terms of what women want to wear, what they want to accentuate versus what they don't want to accentuate. It’s about contouring the waist and the manipulations with the fabrics, being able to carve out a woman's shape. It allows me to broaden my product categories and make women feel sexy while being able to not compromise what their insecurities are.
There was a Business of Fashion article that talked about representation of Black designers at New York Fashion Week and how much it's increased over the past few years, but there's still a lack of overall inclusion in the industry. Can you speak to that a little bit?
We can always talk about what the industry can do more of in terms of representation and inclusion, but I think that since the pandemic — since Black Lives Matter — there has been definitely an uptick when it comes to support of [designers of color]. I've seen more representation in major retailers that I wouldn't have seen five years ago. It's something that we've always wanted. We have more work to do, but I think that there has been positive strides on creating what we call diversity and inclusion within the fashion industry — particularly for Black designers, Black models, Black stylists, Black people in general.
This topic frustrates me because it shouldn't have to boil down to race. It really should be about talent. It should be about craftsmanship. I hope that my success and my existence is a contribution in the way that fashion has made a shift or change. To me, that is already a contribution to the culture and to the conversation of inclusion and diversity.
What advice do you have for up and coming designers?
Stay the course, never give up. There's always a light at the end of the tunnel. Stay inspired, stay creative, and just work hard. And I think success is inevitable as long as you really work towards your goals. Right now is a really crucial time to be creative. Self-expression is so important, and it's such a free platform right now that people are willing to look, learn, and discover new things. Go hard in the paint with your creativity.
You're coming up on 10 years as a brand. What are your goals for the next 10 years?
My focus right now is to create longevity, strengthen this brand to be the next American luxury brand. Hopefully in the next 10 years, you will have a free standing LaQuan Smith luxury boutique somewhere in Tribeca. Expanding my product categories, whether that's shoes, handbags, fragrances, men's wear. I want to expand my manufacturing capabilities. I'm looking to make this become the next Tom Ford.
What has been the most rewarding part of your career?
I started this in my grandmother's basement. I remember being 13 years old and just designing clothes in my room. Everything has over-exceeded what I've always dreamed and imagined. Before, it was a pinch me moment, but now I wake up every day truly blessed and thankful for the positions that I'm in. My biggest accomplishment is being able to see how much I've grown. Seeing LaQuan Smith sold all around the world, all these women are incorporating LaQuan Smith in their daily lives. That's the biggest and most incredible accomplishment that I could ever ask for.
Interview has been edited and condensed for clarity. We may receive a portion of sales if you purchase a product through a link in this article.