Back Issue__ Leaders of the Pack: The Leading Ladies of Streetwear Unveiled
LANIE: HELLZ BELLZ
Full Name: Lanie Alabanza-Barcena
Age (you act): 29
Hold the cards or lay ‚Äòem all out?
Lay ‚Äòem all out.
Are you a gambler in life?
I wouldn't be where I'm at in life if I wasn't.
What were you like in high school?
I was "that girl" who kicked it with all the guys‚Äîa feminine tomboy is how I like to put it. I rolled deep with the guys but was still very into fashion. I ditched class every chance I could get but my grades were still on point.
When did you start Hellz Bellz? Why?
I started Hellz in 2005. Initially, it was a hobbie‚Äîa side thing that I did to keep my creative juices flowing. Although I was working as the Art Director for a clothing company, I was given the creative freedom that I needed so I'd design graphics on the side and eventually I had enough to create a mini-collection. I figured there had to be other females out there who felt the enormous void in the market for women's streetwear so Hellz was not only for myself, it was for them.
What was that quintessential moment for you that brought you to start Hellz Bellz?
I remember clearly, I was juggling my day job and Hellz, running around the fashion district in NY looking for fabrics and trims then running to my sample maker during lunch breaks. It was so draining. I wasn't putting in 110% into my job or Hellz so I had to make a decision‚Äîwork for the man or be my own boss and well‚Ä¶you know how that turned out.
How would you describe the industry today?
Because of the state of economy right now, everybody is forced to step out of the box and be their most creative they've ever been. That's the plus side‚Äîit's interesting to see how people react when they're in a position when they have no choice but to struggle to survive in an industry that's plummeting. Brands are falling out left and right. It's seriously survival of the fittest. I thank God everyday that Hellz is one of the few brands that's riding the wave.
What are some of the more important lessons you‚Äôve learned through your experience?
Not to take life so seriously, listen to my gut, and to just "do me." I won't do anything that I don't believe in or have a love for.
What do you think we need to be doing to help the women's streetwear industry continue to progress?
We just have to open minded when it comes to fashion and understand that street wear isn't all about rockin' graphic tees and hoodies. It's a lifestyle, so like anything else, as we grow our style needs to evolve as well.
What projects do you have coming up?
A bunch. Can't say just yet but believe me I got some bangers coming for all the ladies. Let's just say, I'll be keeping your eyewear, accessory and shoe game tight.
What are your future goals?
To open stores in the LA, NY, and Japan, start a men‚Äôs and children's line and last but not least world domination. [Laughs.]
Who is someone you haven‚Äôt collaborated with, but would like to?
My dream would be to collab with my hugest idol, Ms. Vivienne Westwood.
Favorite color jelly bean?
Where's your heart at?
With my family & close friends, my business, and dogs.