While many designers have shifted gears from evening wear to loungewear in the past year, LaQuan Smith has forged on with his body-contouring catsuits and lux apparel with no mindset of giving in to quarantine style. The New York City native has kept the glimmering thought of nightlife and getting glammed up post-pandemic alive through his work. His latest move continues to showcase his brand's sex appeal and unapologetic nature: a James-Bond-inspired swimwear collection.
The line launches May 1st on FWRD and will be featured in the 2021 SI Swimsuit Issue. Here’s a sneak peak:
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We spoke with Smith about his swimwear debut and his business, and got his take on dressing with confidence:
SI: What sparked the evolution into swimwear for you?
LS: I have been interested in the swim space for quite some time now and have integrated it into my collections. Our woman naturally vacations in some of the most luxurious and glamorous destinations in the world; she needs an unapologetically sexy swimsuit for that beach moment. Right now we really want to push for inclusivity among all women and show our customers that we see and hear them. We always want our girls to feel as sexy as possible in our designs; whether that be fur or swimwear. This evolution into swimwear was seamless and felt like a natural addition to the LaQuan Smith brand.
SI: You managed to make a major standout during the pandemic. How did you navigate your business so successfully during this time?
LS: We are extremely blessed and grateful to have seen the business grow the way that it has during these unprecedented times. Navigating this new world has not been easy but keeping myself inspired and staying true to the brand's identity has been the hallmark of our business plan. Giving women what they want season after season is my goal.
SI: As an extremely talented and successful young, black, male designer, how do you hope to pave the way for other designers and creatives who see themselves in you?
LS: I hope that my work and my career as a designer and as a brand gives young black boys and girls the message that goals of being a luxury fashion designer are in reach. Also, to all kids of any race, trying to get into fashion—- let my story of humble beginnings and being completely self-taught act a testament that anything is possible through hard work and talent.
SI: We often see SI Swimsuit models on your runway like Danielle Herrington, Emily DiDonato and Robin Holzken. What role do you play in casting for your brand and what do you look for?
LS: I always look to my team to execute my vision for the LaQuan Smith woman on my runways. My brand director Kyle Bryan often sits with our casting directors to ensure a perfect match. The Sports Illustrated Swimsuit gang always delivers iconic runway walks and have the bodies of goddesses; I can't wait to see them on my runway again.
SI: When people think of a LaQuan Smith design, confidence is at the forefront of their associations. Do you see your clothes as a vehicle for women to display their confidence?
LS: Confidence is something I try to bring out of every woman to highlight and allow them to stand in their womanhood. I think that the association of confidence with the brand comes from the clothing itself and how the women feel in the clothing. It’s an experience. The LaQuan Smith brand is THE vehicle for women to display their confidence.
SI: You are a women’s wear designer and your designs certainly celebrate the female form. That being said, do gender roles and the disruption of outdated social norms have any influence on your design process?
LS: I pride myself on running my business in a very progressive way. Yes, I design women’s wear but that’s not stopping anyone from stepping into our pieces and looking unapologetically glamorous. Gender norms play no role in my design process as the whole ideation behind the brand is to empower women and allow them to express their utmost confidence.