Continuing into year three on our iconic brand collaboration with Miss Lawn, we caught up with her to discuss streetwear culture, its universal impact, and inspiration for the future.
Lanie Alabanza-Barcena, known to the fashion world as Miss Lawn, is at the top of the pyramid for streetwear designers—setting new standards, breaking boundaries and laying the groundwork for the next generation of creative minds. Starting off in 2003 at Triple 5 Soul, she moved on to Jay Z’s streetwear brand, Rocawear Juniors. There she designed collections alongside fashion icons like Patricia Field and Rihanna. Today, she’s the force behind her own brand HLZBLZ and continues to collaborate with top names in the industry.
The Mighty Shed: How does it feel when you hear people describe you as a pioneer?
Lawn: Championing women—by being fearless and bold—my intent, was to fill that void in the market. So, to say that I’ve somewhat paved a way for designers in generations to come and I’m embedded in the cloth of streetwear…it’s super rewarding.
You’ve seen the evolution of streetwear fashion since the early 2000s. Have you found inspiration in witnessing that shift?
Lawn: When I first started, streetwear was very niche. You knew just by walking down the street, [you] could relate to that person because they’re into streetwear. The way they dress, the music they probably listen to; now it’s beyond that. Now, you can see a 70-year-old woman carrying an Off-White Louis Vuitton bag. I’m inspired by designers who stay true to themselves, center their love for design and the culture, and push the limits of streetwear. People want to evolve the community to levels that we never expected, Jerry Lorenzo (Fear of God) and Virgil, especially. We would never ever imagine us streetwear kids even being in Paris, let alone showing at Paris Fashion Week. Now I have friends who are showing and selling in Paris, debuting collections. It’s so insane.
Watching that evolution in real-time, did it influence your creative process along the way?
Lawn: I used to look for inspiration far and wide. Travel, research, go to libraries, dig, dig, dig. The last couple years, my process shifted to an internal dialogue. ‘What can I design that I totally love, then evolve it; make it better?’ Make it more functional. Make it more—tomorrow.
You brought up Jerry and Virgil, two people who drove the shift to more unexpected collaborations. Are there any that resonated with you the most?
Lawn: The one’s where I’m like, “whoa, that’s dope” are always going to be the collabs that are unexpected. Balenciaga and Gucci coming together? That’s mind boggling. You would never expect two fashion houses to come together and do that. It wasn’t even something new; they took existing pieces and co-branded them. That is so cool to me.
When we were in LA you mentioned working with Huff, essentially designing an entire women’s collection for a brand where that’s never been done. What was that experience like, and getting that call?
Lawn: I actually had a sit down with Keith himself. I’ve always admired Keith and what he’s done with his brand. When they opened the discussion to do a women’s Iine, I knew I had the responsibility of creating a voice and look for the Huff Girl. I’ve been working with them now since 2019. We’ve released two seasons, and I’ve designed up through summer 2023. After Keith’s passing, I felt a huge responsibility to keep his legacy alive and do him right. I just hope that he’s proud of the work I’ve done with his team to not just release the women’s collections, but elevate and push the brand forward.