Fashion Formula: Miss Lawn Talks Wild Youth, Working With Jay-Z

Miami-born and now Los Angeles native, Justice Marley, hails all the way from her Downtown campus at Fashion Institute of Design & Merchandising to give us the goods on all things fashion. Current trends, history of, dos and don’ts alongside pick of the weeks and interviews galore, Justice will be gifting us a specific voice attached to the sea of current trends and cultural references out there. So much to cover, so much choose from, we thank Justice for putting in the hard work.

For this week's Fashion Formula I've got the 411 on one of streetwear's leading ladies, Miss Lawn.

Tell me about yourself and your career, what sparked your interest in streetwear?
My name is Lanie, however I also go by Miss Lawn. I was born in New Orleans, Louisiana which a lot of people don’t know about me, however I was raised in San Diego, California. My adolescent years consisted of me hanging with the wrong crowd and constantly worrying my parents, who spent more time working to put food on the table than controlling or keeping tabs on me. Although I had no interest in keeping my head in books, I had an immense love for fashion, the arts and a scene which consisted of hip hop, punk, skate, with a mix of gang culture that I’d learn years later was the makings of streetwear … all of which would later mold me into what I am today.

Today, I am the Co-Founder and Creative Director of a label I co-founded alongside my business/creative partner & husband, Bam Barcena, called HLZBLZ, a female streetwear brand that was birthed 10 years ago, out of frustration of the lack of a female presence/voice in a culture that I was heavily immersed in.

I read that you were the art director at Rocawear. What was it like working amongst hip-hop legend, Jay-Z?
After leaving Triple 5 Soul, I moved onto Rocawear Juniors as a Senior Graphic Designer. After a few years and lots of hard work, I moved my way up to the Art Director position. When I first got on board, Damon was pretty much running the show and was a strong presence within the business/brand. However, after the fall out between him and Jay, Dame was out and Jay all of the sudden played an active roll in everything, from design meetings to fittings. It was amazing to see someone come in and not know a lick of fashion to all of a sudden making design call outs and using technical lingo, BUT at the same time, he knew when to leave decisions up to the professionals and learn during the process.

He was pretty easy to work with also, and really knew how to make you feel comfortable to the point where you’d almost forget how famous he was. I say “almost” because I can’t help but remember a time when we were having a design meeting on what was I think the 39th floor. We’re all talking, laughing and talking business with Jay and the rest of the team. Then slowly coming down the side of the building are two window wipers strapped to harnesses on a platform. They’re wiping and wiping, then all of a sudden they notice Jay-Z inside and immediately start going HAM!!! Knocking on the windows, pointing at him, reciting his rap lyrics, everything. [Laughs] It was hilarious!

Your brand HLZBLZ represents women empowerment, as a woman in this industry, what do you find most challenging?
The challenges that I encounter in this industry actually have nothing to do with being a woman. They mostly have to do with dealing with shady vendors, making sure I continue to design collections that stay relevant, and being a boss who continuously motivates and pushes a team consisting of young talent (or at least I try to). How I’m able to work with those challenges empowers me as a woman…

You’ve collaborated with Stussy, Vans, G-Shock, and a few more reputable brands. Which collaboration was your favorite? And what other brands do you see HLZBLZ collaborating with?
Damn, that’s like asking to choose my favorite child, if I had one [laughs]. That’s a hard one, BUT if I had to choose it would be our collaborations that we did and continue to do with our family over at Vans. Mainly because I absolutely love their team and working on the process with them. They’re all so involved and talented that it’s nothing but an awesome and fun learning experience…and that’s how I like my collaborations. I like growing relationships that go beyond the collaboration. I can honestly say they’re family.

I’d love to some day collaborate w/ Dr. Martens. I’ve been a huge fan of the brand for as long as I can remember. If that could happen one day, I’d die.

What has been the most memorable moment of your career?
There’s been a lot, mainly because I get geeked out by everything when it comes to HLZBLZ. My stomach still flutters when I see someone on the street wearing our designs, BUT I’d say one of the most memorable moments was going back to my motherland, The Philippines and speaking about the brand in front of hundreds of people during the opening of our store in Manila. It was such a humbling moment and made me appreciate my people so much and it was also a moment that hopefully made my parents proud. You have to understand that since I was that wild teenager, I always hoped to do something one day to make up for all the shit I put my parents through. It’s kind of been my life’s mission since I got on that plane in San Diego headed for New York all those years ago.

How would you describe your personal style, and what items do you consider essentials?
Comfort over everything is my motto. If I feel comfortable, BUT still feel sexy or badass (which is such a corny term but I don’t know how else to describe it), then I’m out the door. My essentials are the perfect pair of slouchy black slacks, a solid color oversized coat, clean and perfectly washed tees and a pair of kicks (i.e. Vans Authentics, Converse, Dr. Martens Boots).

Other than working in fashion and graphic design is there any other area that you work in?
I’d be so down to be a teacher, teaching graphic design or business fundamentals for creatives. I just love teaching and mentoring. There’s nothing more gratifying than seeing someone grow into their potential and knowing you were a little tiny piece of it.

What can we expect from you in the future, any new collaborations or new projects?
Just expect to see dope shit. We have so many new projects coming into play and collaborations with Vans, Rare Panther, 40’s & Shorties, Chocomoo, Sin Amor, Rionism, Trasher, Mata Hari and Nylon Mag to name a few, in celebration of our 10 Year Anniversary.

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