It’s a belief that emerging New York designer Colin LoCascio keeps at the centre of his brand. With his bold, vibrant and delightfully eye-catching designs, LoCascio is determined to bring a little colour back into the wardrobes of men and women everywhere – perhaps at a time when we need it the most.
While his career in fashion design is on a promising rise, LoCascio’s initial career pursuits weren’t within the fashion industry at all, as his interests previously lay primarily in toy design.
“I was the biggest stuffed animal geek as a kid. I had a million of them and I’d bring them everywhere,” Colin told i-D in February. It makes sense that this career was LoCascio’s first choice, given the vibrant designs he presented at New York Fashion Week recently.
However, it didn’t take long for LoCascio’s focus to shift to fashion, having been swayed after realising just how fun and expressive the world of fashion can be during his first year at the Rhode Island School of Design. As a freshman, he was given the assignment of creating a wearable garment from paper – his interest grew quickly from there.
“I never really thought about clothes before that because I went to a school where I had to wear a uniform from kindergarten to 12th grade,” he explained, “I never realized that clothes have a lot to do with how others perceive you and how you want to represent yourself.”
Having discovered his affinity for creating clothing, he quickly switched gears and enrolled with the school’s fashion program, guided by the idea of self-expression and developing a unique, personal style. He was able to transfer his skills within toy design fairly quickly, too, keeping unusual fabrics and bold, eye-catching prints at the core of his creations.
One element of his childhood was particularly useful when it came to his fashion designs, having been inspired by the signature style of Fran Fine, the heroine of 1990s sitcom The Nanny. He describes the look as ‘absurd, outer-borough, unapologetic and borderline not-tacky-but-questionable’ – as strange as it may sound, it’s a description that he means in the kindest way possible.
“I love that quote from The Nanny,” he says, recounting “‘She’s the lady in red when everybody else is wearing tan.’”
Fran Fine’s look sounds strikingly similar to the look he imagines on the archetypal ‘Colin LoCascio woman’, the hypothetical ‘face’ of the brand. To Colin, she’s the confident, downtown girl and dresses with ‘flair, pizzazz and chutzpah’.
Shortly after graduating from RISD, Colin’s unmistakable sense of style and the vibrance radiated by his designs earned him a freelance position designing under Marc Jacobs.
It was a dream to Colin, who had come to greatly admire the brand during his time in school – working there allowed him to get a much firmer grasp on how fashion design worked at its highest levels. He describes the experience as a ‘catalyst’ in teaching him how to do things.
In the meantime, he was seeing increased interest in his designs from celebrities, meeting the demand by creating custom pieces for a number of prominent figures in the pop culture world of today, including Miley Cyrus and Cardi B.
With his new independent venture proving successful, as well as earning a position as a design director for Kendall and Kylie Jenner’s label, Colin LoCascio was quickly climbing the ranks of the fashion world – it wasn’t long before he had found himself preparing a collection to show in Paris, ready to launch his namesake brand for the first time.
The excitement was short-lived, however – no sooner had he landed in Paris did he find himself heading home due, of course, to the developing COVID-19 pandemic.
It was a blow, but he wasn’t going to let it slow his progress for long.
He continued to launch the brand regardless – and it’s a decision that has proved incredibly successful, despite the pandemic.
“The label’s rooted in that New York edge, but with a little bit of whimsy. It’s an optimism that I think is needed and something that people seem to be really relating to as we’ve gone through quarantine,” Colin says.
Referring once again to the idea of the ‘Colin LoCascio woman’, he explains “Our customer is not buying lounge. She’s buying prints, (she’s buying) hopeful garments.”
Colin also believes that some of the success of the brand may be down to its roots in nostalgia, which provides many with comfort in these difficult times.
“I’m inspired by a lot of things I was into back in the day and I was such a TV kid that a lot of my references come from that,” he explains, “The printed mesh is definitely inspired by a Hillary Duff-esque, angsty middle-schooler top. A fur bucket hat I’m launching is definitely something Miranda from Lizzie McGuire would wear. It’s rooted in those nuggets that I think also connect me to the customer.”
These are influences that have come to heavily inform his AW21 collection, which places heavy emphasis on being as bright and as eye-catching as possible. The collection also features two favourites of Colin’s own childhood. One cardigan comes complete with several miniature plush frogs stitched to the front, back and sleeves, a tribute to Freddy The Frog, his favourite childhood plush toy.
One of the collection’s bestsellers is a teddy fur coat featuring a bold flame design across the bottom – he has lovingly named it ‘The Fran Coat’ after the aforementioned star of his favourite 90s sitcom, The Nanny.
While Colin’s designs haven’t yet had the chance to flourish in a world that isn’t under lockdown, his mission for the future is clear. The slogan on the homepage of his website is, after all, ‘clothing for a brighter tomorrow’.
It’s a dream that we’re sure Colin LoCascio is sure to bring to life!
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