NEW TYPE #20: Shahista Lalani INTERVIEW

February 03, 2017 3:00 PM

"Introducing an emerging designer creating captivating leather fashions."

The garment industry has been flowing through the veins of Shahista Lalani’s family for generations leading up to her debut collection of leather garments. Mentorship from her family nurtured expertise in textiles and construction, followed by time spent studying at Parsons, the New School for Design, as well as experience in the design studios of Zac Posen and The Row.

Lalani prides herself in ethical manufacturing and humanly-sourced leathers, while tapping her private school education for rebellious inspiration rooted in graffiti and tattoos. The Spring 2017 collection no doubt returns to her rebellious side, embracing the “concrete jungle” with electric greens, rusty shades of orange, and gold-accented, black leather pieces galore. She hopes to break stereotypes that reserve leather for “bikers,” by reinterpreting familiar styles ranging of bralettes, simple round-neck tops, and tight skirts, to more peculiar silhouettes like overalls and extended, sleeveless jackets. The experimental leather treatments of Lalani’s designs add yet another twist to her current collection.

With this exclusive interview, TWELV offers a glimpse into the mind of the creative, emerging designer!





1 . Describe your personal style?

Mysterious. All black. Luxury street.


2 . You were born and raised in Canada, what brings you to New York?

I came to New York City to attend Parsons The New School for Design. After graduating I decided to pursue my childhood dream of launching my own label.


3 . Your family has been involved in the garment industry for over thirty years how much did this effect your decision to become a designer?

My family's involvement in the garment industry directly effected my knowledge about fabrics and tailoring. Growing up, I was extremely creative. I was always drawing and painting. My parents owned several dry cleaners and my Mom was always sewing. It allowed me to explore and dissect garments as well as acquire knowledge about tailoring.  As I got older I was able to build garments in my brain and I knew I wanted to design and go to Parsons. 


4 . What brought about your interest in leather? 

Leather has always stood out to me because it is not man-made. Leather is skin and it reacts like skin. It protects you, it's durable and can be treated and altered in several ways. I love vintage leatherwear especially motorcycle gear. It's heavy duty and protective and lasts forever. You can do so much with leather, it's unlike any other material I've worked with. 


5 . What are your main sources of inspiration? 

My main source of inspiration comes from the streets of New York City. The dirty, crowded, chaotic corridors hidden all around the city have so much inspiration. The architecture, street art, sounds and people are always changing. There are so many layers in the streets that there is never a dull moment. 


6 . As a fashion designer what is your proudest accomplishment to date?

My dream since I was a kid was always to launch my own label and run my own business. Starting Shahista Lalani LLC was and still is my proudest accomplishment. 


7 . How do you see the brand growing in the next ten years?

In the next ten years, I see my brand evolving into a trusted and sought after leather brand that is reliable and ahead of its time. Maintaining quality and care in my garments as I grow is very important to me. 


8 . What is the most challenging part of your work? 

I'm naturally a creative person so creating new products and designing comes naturally. The business side takes a lot of dedication and organization as it does not come as easy for most creative minds, so that would be the most challenging part for me.


9 . Do you have any upcoming projects that we should be waiting on?

My upcoming fall winter 2017 line is definitely going to shake up the fashion world. I'm bringing a new perspective to leather in womenswear, juxtaposing feminine colors with tough hardware.


10 . What designers or artists do you most admire?

I really admire Marc Jacobs for not only his designs but his collaborations. He always stays true to his grunge punk background and never fails to deliver. Alexander McQueen was one of the most special designers to ever live. He found beauty in darkness. He made people feel how he felt and his garments were precious works of art. Gareth Pugh has always stood out to me with his choice of materials, and hardcore construction. His designs are so futuristic and unlike anything I've ever seen. He is so unique and true to his vision. 


11 . What are some of your interests or hobbies outside of work?

Growing up in Canada I learned to snowboard at a very young age. Heading out to the mountains to shred is one of my favorite activities. I love painting, graffiti and street art since I was a kid. I definitely still spend a lot of time with paint markers, spray paint and canvases. I'm obsessed with my tattoo artist, Lara Scotton. She's a great friend and artist. Hanging out with her and getting inked over the past 7 years in NYC is a huge inspiration to me. She is so diligent and precise with her art, I definitely look up to her. 


12 . Do you have any favorite places in New York? Where and why?

Anywhere there is street art, graffiti, or murals. There are so many layers and street art piled within the streets of New York it blows my mind. I love exploring the streets. Bushwick collective is for sure one of my favorite areas to explore. 


13 . What words would you use to describe yourself?

Bold, creative, wild and ruthless.


14 . Do you have any life essential tips for your readers?

Break the rules.


15. What are your life long dreams?

I want to build art schools in third world countries. I want to provide opportunities for the youth that aren't just focused purely on academics but creativity as well. 








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