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.


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.


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!


Style Stud: Tiny Airplanes

CaptureRemember that time my best friends accused me of worshiping Satan early this week because of the necklace to the left? Welp … I introduce you to its designer, one of the most creative souls I have had the pleasure of meeting, Nikki Virbitsky. Her jewels and goods and what not fall under her company, Tiny Airplanes. Follow her and become just as obsessed as I am … I command you!

Like I’ve mentioned numerous times, I’m a complete and utter jewelry whore and when something shiny and interesting catches me eye, I just have to have it. I first became one with Tiny Airplanes this past summer where I purchased this antler-like necklace. For me, it definitely wasn’t something I would have been normally drawn to, as I had never been one to even wear fur, let alone an antler from a deer around my neck. But there was something inside of me that knew if I didn’t purchase it I would be torturing myself thinking about it day-after-day. So I went for it, and I kid you not, I wear it pretty much every day because it compliments all of the other crazed jewels I wear.


More recently is when I took a deeper plunge into the wonderful world of taxidermy, enter claw necklace stage right. Again, there is just something to Nikki’s jewelry where you don’t immediately think, “OMG THERE’S A CLAW IN THAT NECKLACE RUN,” but instead get entranced by it’s beauty and craftsmanship. And for the person who isn’t a fan of taxidermy, she caters to you as well, as you can see I purchased an antique doll piece necklace from her that I adore as well.


I realize taxidermy is a touchy subject. I’m not even sure how I 100% feel about it yet. Right now I believe if the animal passed away in a natural manner and an artist gets to do something beautiful with it in a respectable way, why the hell not. I’m not going to push my views on people and be like, “hey you, look at this claw around my neck, isn’t it gnarly?!” No. I believe in beauty and that is that.

With that being said, be sure to check out her goods this weekend at the Taxidermy Competition on Saturday, November 15 at 7 p.m.! And while you are there, check out another artist that I’m a huge fan of, Kristie Matt of Clovenhoff for some one-of-a-kind beautiful pieces as well.

My Mom Likes Pharrell More Than Me

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For real. Like if she could skin Pharrell and wear him, she would. Well, yeah, that is totally true, but I kind of think she wants to be best friends with him SLASH adopt him, which would basically leave my sibs and I without a parent because I mean … how do you compete with Pharrell?

Why am I writing about this? Well, my mom is pretty much the most stylish person I know, and I’m not just saying that because she birthed me. Listen, I won’t give away her age because that isn’t proper, but the woman looks like she is in her 40’s and most definitely is not (fingers crossed I got some of those genes). She schools me in shopping, coming home with the coolest pieces that I would die for, for insane prices. I would attempt to snake them from her but oh that’s right, she’s a five foot nothing stick figure and I’m, well, a monster.

I’m not sure when her Pharrell obsession started. She definitely wasn’t getting down to N.E.R.D. years back, and basically had no idea he has his hands in like every chart topping song over the past decade. “Pharrell sings on Blurred Lines … what?!” she exclaimed recently. I think it was when the “Happy” phenomenon hit. She works at a store that plays “trendy-ish” music, so I suppose she heard it there. And then I showed her the music video, which made hearts pop out of her eyes. And every time we are in the car together, as I’m listening to some ridiculous oldies song like “Give Me The Night,” she asks me politely to scan the radio to find her “song,” which means anything and everything Pharrell.

It’s not just his music she likes, though. She’s obsessed with his style. He’s totally her style sensei. Oddly enough, I think they would make a stunning pair of best friends. Don’t ask me why I think that. If Pharrell is as “zen” as everyone says he is, well they would be just like peas and carrots.

My mom: KATE! Did you see the sweater Pharrell was wearing on that music show last night?! I need it! Did you watch it?
Me: What music show? No.
My mom: YouTube it!
Me: Okay.
:::Hours later:::
My mom: Did you watch?
Me: No.
My mom: Come on!
Me: Fine, fine I’ll do it now.
Me: Mom, that sweater is definitely Chanel.
My mom: I NEED IT! We can find a knock-off, right?

That conversation actually happened. And here is the sweater. It’s pretty rad, right?

Now that Pharrell is a judge of the Voice, which is a show my mom and I like to watch together, it’s kind of our thing (cute, right?), the lusting after Pharrell’s style has been taken to a whole new level. Seriously. If people don’t choose Team Pharrell she gets infuriated. “Why would anyone not choose him?! I would TOTALLY be Team Pharrell.” If anyone of you knows the Voice, the “blind auditions” take FOR-EV-ER, and the judges literally don’t change outfits for like four long episodes. While I was drooling over Gwen Stefani’s boots and Gwen Stefani in general, my mom had her eyes set on Pharrell’s necklaces, which again, were Chanel, I believe. See below. They rule. And they continued to tease her throughout all of the Blind Auditions.


My mom: I need those necklaces.
Me: They are cool, but they are Chanel.
My mom: Pharrell and I need to be best friends. He’s just seems so nice. He would just give one to me. He would be like, “here you go,” :::puts imaginary necklace around her neck:::

Pharrell, if you are reading this, which you totally are because psshh why wouldn’t you be, the joy you bring my mother is an awesome thing to watch. To the way she turns up the beat and rocks out in the car to your most recent jams to the way you inspire her style (although I don’t foresee her wearing an over-sized hat anytime soon), it is rad thing to witness. I really hope you are as chill and “zen” as people say … which I believe you are. So be best friends with my mom, kay? You’re a match made me stylish heaven. And then I can steal her Chanel necklaces you give her. BOOM.