Style Stud: Lafayette Kanard

CaptureIf I remember any advice my Nana gave me, it was, “never wear a logo because a brand isn’t paying you to be a walking billboard.” From then on I avoided logos at all costs. Well … I did fall down the Abercrombie and Fitch rabbit hole for a brief period before college. I mean hey, we all makes mistakes.

I love a good t-shirt, but what makes me swoon even harder is a t-shirt that is not only original, but handmade with care and precision by a true artist. You can see why I was immediately drawn to local designer, Lafayette Kanard’s designs that Emily Goulet of Philly Mag’s Shoppist so immaculately raved about. After reading her article, I had to socially stalk him (which I did successfully, a-thank you) and get to know him more.

Please enjoy getting to know him as much as I did. He’s absolutely a Philly talent to keep your eye on.

What inspires you?

Life. My experiences, both struggle and success, mainly struggle though. Also, the people I love.

Describe your design aesthetic.

LEFT. Organic. Substance.

Tell me about your partnership with BelaShehu. How did it happen, how did you collaborate for the collection at Joan Shepp?

The collab with Bela and I was fate, very organic. We both worked with Craig Von Schroeder CEO/Founder of Commonwealth Proper a while back, but never crossed paths and formally met. Then one day while strolling through Rittenhouse I noticed her, called her name (startling her) and a few weeks later she invited me to the Ninobrand atelier. We vibed out, shared personal experiences, and connected. I remember telling her about a collection I was working on at the time called “LESS.” The conversation(s) & questions of “less is more,” “more is less,” came up and “LESS vs MORE” was birthed.

I never collaborated with Joan Shepp, (maybe something is in the works) but I have been blessed with product placement for KUSTOMS by LK in their retail space since October of 2013. I love Joan and Ellen, that’s family.

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Do you hand-paint all of your designs? What goes into hand-painting fabric?

YES! I hand-paint, and will continue to hand-paint every single piece that goes onto each garment. I am fusing art with fashion so when someone purchases my product they know that my hands actually created this art piece.

Hand-painting fabrics isn’t for everyone. There’s many different elements that goes into it. It takes 10,000 hours of tedious love/passion, precision, calculation, and vision. You also have to know what fabrics work well with paint(s) and which paint(s) work well with fabrics & textures.

How did you get the idea for “left” shirts? What does it mean?

By going LEFT, literally. After graduating, well technically graduating from Architecture + Design High School (CHAD) I took a year off instead of going straight to college. I then received pressure from my grandmother & others to go back to school. I completed a semester at CCP and then transferred to The Art Institute of Philadelphia. Majoring in Graphic Design, a goal at the time, I was in my drawing class and my teacher stopped the entire class one day during a live portrait and said, “Lafayette! Why do you keep coming to my class? Your drawings are amazing, clearly talented, you’re always stylish. Change your major to Fashion Design and don’t come back to my class.”

I left the class puzzled as hell, like what the fuck is she talking about! During my computer science class, it hit me, I had this feeling of her being right. A feeling I couldn’t explain. I walked out that boring C.S. class and never went back. I dropped out (very Kanye-esque). Of course my grandmother and others disagreed with my choice, they told me it wasn’t the “right” way of doing things, that if I didn’t obtain a degree I wouldn’t be successful in life (man were they wrong). I didn’t follow the typical, mediocre way of society’s “right way” to make it in life. I went “LEFT,” I followed GOD and followed my heart & that formula has been working every since. LEFT is my right, it means to follow GOD & follow your heart.

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What is your favorite t-shirt and why?

My favorite t-shirt would have to be my unreleased ‘L-K’ tee which will drop SS15. Reason being is because, not only does it represent my name, inspiration from one of my favorite brands, but even more because of a suggestion that my girlfriend’s brother gave me before he passed away from cancer back in November. May he rest peacefully knowing that I applied his advice.

Who is your favorite designer and why?

YOHJI YAMAMOTO and the cross collab with Adidas Y-3 ^_^ Why? Because he’s an O.G. & his attention to detail, simplicity and quality is spot on. The overall aesthetic of his draping, to his comfort back to the ninja-like inspiration of the Japanese culture. Also because not everyone can afford it nor knows too much about the brand. It’s not over saturated.

What is next for you? Where can people buy/view your other pieces?

Next… just have to wait and see. People can not only purchase my pieces from Joan Shepp located 1811 Chestnut St. Philadelphia PA. but also at The Geisha House in Old City, Philadelphia. I’ll have an e-commerce site launching in 2015. Stay updated by following my brand on Instagram: @kustomsbylk and my personal Instagram: @lafayettekanard

Any advice for aspiring Philly designers?

Follow your heart! Put your 10,000 hours in. Remain humble, work hard/smart, love what you do, do it with passion, do it with purpose!

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Style Stud: Old Navy Flip Flop Vending Machines

Emma Roberts Checks out the Old Navy Flip Flop Vending Machine in LAThere’s absolutely nothing worse than wearing a fantastic pair of heels throughout the city, but your feet hurting so badly you just want to chop them off. Or even worse, your feet hurting so badly you wouldn’t mind strutting through the city streets barefoot! Trust me, the idea of getting hepatitis rather than having to deal with wearing 5 in torture devices seemed pleasant to me definitely more than once.

But could you imagine, suffering and walking like an idiot through the city to avoid sharp pains of death, when … wait? Could it be? A FLIP FLOP VENDING MACHINE?!?! WAAAAAAAAAAAA!?!

Thanks to Old Navy, a flip flop vending machine isn’t just a mirage women see when they are in shoe pain anymore. It’s the real deal to honor their $1 flip flop sale. Listen, I haven’t worn a pair of Old Navy flip flops since I was in college, mostly as shower shoes, but if I was in need, I would literally kiss the machine and give it my money … happily, instead of carrying around a pair of flats with me and taking up precious purse space. It is genius.

I have nothing against Old Navy flip flops … they are a great go-to when you need to run a quick errand, walk your dog, go outside and get the paper … and especially, when you want to set fire to a pair of uncomfortable heels. Old Navy … I applaud you.

My only bone I have to pick with Old Navy is this: Why don’t you have any flip flop vending machines in Philly? Huh? We have lots of stylish women who love their high heels but hate the pain. We have lovely parks and lovely streets for you to put said vending machines on … so why are you depriving us of this golden and comfortable opportunity. Philly needs some comfort and some flop love, too, Old Navy … Just sayin’.

Style Stud: Smak Parlour

sp-homepage-1-10-14For those of you not from the Philly area, well … first of all I feel sorry for you. But I also feel sorry that you don’t get the opportunity to enjoy one of my fave boutiques in the city, Smak Parlour. It’s not just because every time I walk in there I want to step up my style game and reinvent myself, it’s also because of the owner’s, Abby and Katie, who are two bad ass chicks that set their minds to something and turned out leaving a lasting impression in the world of fashion as well as on the city of Philadelphia

I had the ultimate pleasure of speaking with them and getting the lowdown on the parlour itself, their inspiration, and what we can expect from these fantastic ladies in the future.

What was the inspiration behind Smak Parlour? How did you come up with the name?
We met when we were 15, bonded over fashion and worked towards having a store together ever since then. Smak Parlour has been a lifetime in the making. We had a wholesale line of deconstructed and embellished t-shirts called “SMAK by abby and katie,” that we sold to boutiques across the country before opening our store. After finding our Old City storefront, we had tailors sewing SMAK in the back (in our sewing parlour). We were making SMAK in the parlour and just days before opening, “Smak Parlour” came to be.

Where are some chic places we can catch the Smak Parlour fashion truck in 2014? What is the best way to find it?
We recently just drove our truck into the Convention Center for the Tattoo Convention. We will be vending at The Porch (30th St. Station) on Fridays through the spring. We are vending at the Suburu Cherry Blossom event in April. In addition, we are booking plenty of fun private shopping parties! We will be posting our events on Facebook and Twitter. We will also have an event calendar on our website.

Tell me about any new designers/collections you will carry in the new year.
We are super excited about a jewelry line we just brought in from a local Philly designer named Angela. She handcrafts rings and necklaces featuring a range of images from iconic pop figures like Audrey Hepburn, Abe Lincoln and Darth Vader to animal-themed pieces with dog and kitten portraits.

If you could give advice to young girls starting out in the fashion industry, what would it be?
Fashion and retail is less glamorous then you think, it takes dedication, lots of time, hard work, and LOTS of creativity. We love it and feel if you have passion for what you do, you can overcome the hurdles!

How did you both get into fashion? What are your inspirations?
We both shared a love for fashion and have worked in retail since we met in high school. We grew up designing our own clothes from thrift store finds and safety pins. We went to Drexel University for Design and Merchandising. Our shared tastes have always been in the vein of a little bit girly meets rock ‘n roll.

Why did you decide to open your boutique/fashion truck in Philly?
We worked in New York’s garment district after graduation and realized we needed to be doing our own thing to be happy. Being from Philly, we wanted to open a shop in our hometown! The truck came 8 years later. It was a no brainer .. .going mobile is the future. We bring the best of Old City directly to our customers!

How would you define Philly style?
Philly style is very eclectic. There is a grittiness to it, which works perfectly with our brand. We have a definite edge to our style.

I’m in love with the design on Smak Parlour … how did you come up with its look?
We are inspired by Japanese Culture, Pin- up looks, Tattoo Culture, and Downtown New York in the 70’s and 80’s. We love using non-traditional ways to merchandise, such as glittering cinder blocks! The combination is truly unique and feels like a doll house.

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Hey! Philly Does Fashion Week, Too!

CaptureNew York City. Meh. London. Uh huh :::files nails:::. Paris. Yawn. Milan. :::Epic eye roll:::.

It is all about Philly fashion week, people! We got style, yes we do … even though most of the nation thinks we are extremely fat jerks who stuff our faces with cheese steaks and soft pretzels (only a quarter of the time is that true, a thank you very much).

But yes, I am proud and confident enough to say that Philly is turning, slowly but surely, into one of the most fashion-forward cities in America. Will you see Anna Wintour front row in any of the shows/boutique events? Probs not, but I would like to warmly invite her to do so on behalf of the City of Brotherly Love.

And talk about a hipster’s dream come true! Years from now when a more chic and exclusive car company that doesn’t even exist yet is sponsoring Philly Fashion Week, you can proudly scoff at all the labeled-out fashion editors stomping out of the Four Seasons and into the tents at City Hall (yes, this is how I imagine Philly fashion week to look in a couple of years) and say, “pssh I was attending Philly fashion week before these ladies even knew Philly was on the map.” Oh yeah … it’s happening.

But until Anna Wintour arrives and before the fashion world realizes how truly unique and stylish our dear city truly is, we will remain “underground chic,” which I personally think is pretty damn cool.

So for those of you who would like to be “underground chic,” here are some of the most fun and fashion-forward events from some of my favorite designers and boutiques that this city has to offer.

Vintage Designer Pop-Up: Join Fashionaires as they share their designer vintage collection at Palomar Hotel for one day only. Let’s talk about McQueen, Valentino, Oscar de La Renta for up to 80% off the designer store price tags … swoon.
Date: Friday, September 20th starting at noon at Palomar Hotel

The Philadelphia Collection (Okay, take a deep breath because over 60 fashion shows, events, and parties will be happening during this monumental week … here are just a few of my favs).

Hope Chest Undressed: SPANX is here, ladies … what, what! Have some cocktails, enjoy some entertainment … mingle, and oh yeah … get those unruly bumps smoothed!
Date: September 19th, 4-7 p.m., Hope Chest

Rittenhouse Row Fall Fashion Crawl: Boutiques, like one of my favs South Moon Under, will be bringing their fall fashion a-game for an evening of events, cocktails, and pure style.
Date: September 19, 6-8 p.m., Rittenhouse Row

Dressed To A Tea With SA VA: Time to act like proper ladies, which means it is totally cool to faint over fantastic fall fashion from local designers Irina Sigal, and SA VA. Can’t promise that a dapper gent will be there to catch you and fan you back to life, though, so faint at your own risk.
Date: September 21, 2-4 p.m., Sofitel Philadelphia

United By Blue Grand Opening Celebration: Let’s welcome this community-focused boutique to Philly the proper way. I mean come on, every product you buy not only rocks but helps remove one pound of trash from oceans and waterways. Our aqua life thanks you in advance.
Date: September 25, 6-9 p.m., United By Blue