Sure, who doesn’t love discovering new designers and seeing how they change the game? But sometimes, what’s even more exciting is seeing and experiencing a designer’s passion, inspiration, vision, and drive. As we all know, pure artistic talent is not enough to become a designer name. There’s business, branding, PR, and old school hustle. We recently met one such emerging designer, Shan Latris Warren, creator of the Shan Latris Collection and winner of Birmingham Fashion Week 2015.
Interview: Shan Latris Collection designer Shan Warren
1. You’ve said you wanted to be a designer since you were 12, but how exactly did you get started in fashion?
Growing up I wanted to alter everything I bought. I was tall and slim so nothing ever fit me properly. But, it wasn’t until I became a Destiny’s Child fan that I became interested in fully designing fashion. I was inspired by Beyonce’s Mom, Tina Knowels, and her designs for the girl group. Years later, I was in a tough place in life and leaning toward just settling. One day, While looking for fashion books at the library, I came across a book by Russell Simmons called “Do You” and that changed everything for me. I credit that book for making me set out to pursue my fashion dreams. I didn’t have money for college, but I knew I could read about fashion for free at the Library. So I did that until I was able to attend design school 3 years later in 2010. I couldn’t even thread a sewing machine, but The University of Alabama’s fashion program was amazing and very patient with me! I graduated and here I am pursuing fashion today.
2. What’s the most critical lesson you learned as a designer building your own brand?
To be consistent at working toward your goal. I’ve learned that even the baby steps seem like giant leaps down the line. I’ve also learned to be decisive. You have to be able to make executive decisions. You can’t take weeks or months to make every decision. A lot of learning and success comes from trial and error. You just have to trust yourself and leap. I’m still working on that.
Shan Warren modeling her own design
3. How would you describe your personal style?
It varies. I’m an emotional designer as well as dresser. It depends on how I feel, but usually I go for a little edge. I’m currently obsessed with the color combination of royal blue, black, and gold. My whole closest is now basically those colors no matter what kind of garment it is.
Just sending out a little love for our Emerging Designer Winner for BFW 2015, Shan Latris. She is proof that hard work with some blood, sweat, and tears can go a long way. Our favorite example of someone who always acts like a lady, but thinks like boss. We love us some Shan! #bfw2015 #edc #winner #yas (Photo: @juanrodriguezphotog ) @shanlatriscollection
4. What is one practical way you would like to use fashion in order to become a philanthropist?
I would love to use my resources to educate and empower young women through free workshops, seminars, and other events. I think that a lot of women, like myself, have big dreams and can’t find any source of direction. One of my biggest issues was finding people to look to for guidance related to my dreams in such a small town. Who we become is so important to the future of this world, and a lot of us end up not doing our part due to lack of resources to pursue certain goals. If I wanted to be a nurse, I would have had pages of contacts. No one could share knowledge on how to pursue fashion design. It’s not that young people lack vision, its not knowing what to do beyond the surface. I want to bring more education, resources, and opportunities to these women who can’t get to them otherwise.
5. How has Tina Knowels and Kimora Lee Simmons inspired you?
Tina Knowels actually showed me how to be cohesive in my collections. That was one of the things my instructors stayed on me about in college. I struggled with being cohesive and understanding what it was on all levels. I didn’t know it at the time, but the way she designed for Destiny’s Child was “cohesive”. Once I realized that and tied it into what they were trying to get me to understand, I improved drastically. As far as Kimora Lee, I was influenced by her in how I want to brand my fashion company. That woman branded herself wonderfully. My dream is to have an umbrella company and launch a few fashion businesses under it the way she and Russell Simmons did.
6. What is the most exciting thing about being a fashion designer?
I have two answers to that one. The most exciting part is being able to create the art you envision. There’s nothing like seeing your creativity take form. The second most exciting thing is getting to travel for fashion shows. It’s a great reason to see new places!
7. When people where your designs, how do you want them to feel?
I aim to design pieces that fuel women with a strong sense of confidence, strength, and style. I want them to feel empowered.
8. What’s your definition of fashion?
The most important form of expression. People notice what you are wearing when you enter a room before you speak any words to let them know what’s at heart.
9. What is one advice you would give to the next generation of aspiring fashion designers?
I would tell them to maintain great determination! Research and learn as much as you can. The industry is always changing so it’s important to stay up on trends and techniques while also being innovative.
10. What are your future plans? Where in the fashion industry do you think you would grow the most?
I’m looking forward to creating more than just a fashion line. I want to create a empire that’s beyond beauty and face and make a true difference. I’m aiming to create a movement of female empowerment. A movement that unites women through fashion. A movement with a philanthropic core. I don’t want to give away too many details as they are still being solidified. I’m excitedly working behind the scenes, but for now, I’d love to just see my work on the red carpet.