It's not often an international pop sensation will implore a start-up brand to create an entire custom wardrobe, but for former fashion-school-drop-out-turned-coveted-cult-designer Danielle Guizio, calls from the A-List come so thick and fast that it's become difficult to keep track of what—or who—is up next.
From Slashed By Tia to Orseund Iris, the power that Instagram has provided fashion newbies is unprecedented. With each Like and Follow comes a slew of direct messages from rising stars wishing to keep up, and Danielle Guizio is one of the many to profit from the platform's prevalence—growing her line in the four years since its inception to become a go-to for It-girls around the world. And its easy to see why; reworking retro silhouettes and marrying sports and formalwear with a DIY, deconstructed aesthetic (coupled with a talent for alluding to its wearer's physique without overly-exposing), Guizio is the apparel-equivalent of good sex...and sex sells.
From finding customers in Lady Gaga to Halsey (the aforementioned artist who recruited the designer to create a slew of custom looks for her world tour), to Hailey Baldwin, New Jersey-native Guizio describes the Internet as the "golden tool" that propelled her career from its roots in retail to that of a bonafide streetwear super-creative at a lightening rate. Danielle Guizio is not only one to watch—but to follow, save and stay stalking. Move over Dolce & Gabanna, there's a new DG in town.
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Below, Guizio weighs in on her stratospheric success, conquering the millennial market, and how that iconic glitter bikini came to life.
You're a mainstay with millennials—what do you think is the key to young brands surviving in the digital age?
Consistency is key of course. But I can't make it seem all that easy. It's extremely hard work along with heavy responsibility. When handling fast growth (which I'm very thankful for), brands need to make a lot financial and strategic choices—don't let the fast pace force you to take shortcuts. Always think long-term. Aside from the business backend, maintaining and engaging with your brand's online/social following has become essential in our digital age.
You have a host of famous fans. Notably Halsey wears a lot of Danielle Guizio on tour and Lady Gaga was spotted in DG recently. How do those connections come to be?
I've been friends with Ashley (Halsey) for about 5 years now. We met through her manager, who is a longtime friend of mine. As for Gaga, we received an email from her team asking to pull. That was such a surreal moment for me. If someone told me at age 17 that I was going to have my own company and Gaga would be wearing my pieces, I'd be like, "Ok well, first of all: that's scary. Second of all: wait, what, how?!" A lot of these connections have accumulated straight from Instagram. Stylists discovering my brand through influencers, celebrities, models. The Internet has been a golden tool that's helped harvest these relationships throughout the years.
DG has so many standout pieces, but the glitter bikini is among the most memorable. Tell me about that style in particular, and your general creative process.
I go on a trip to Italy with my friends every summer. We book it about eight months prior, which is always around the time I'm designing my spring/summer swim collection. When I booked the trip, I was like, "Damn, I really need a fully glittered out bikini for this trip." I couldn't find anywhere to buy one, which of course sparked my creative process. Creating something that isn't even on the market yet gets me even more excited. I then went straight to the drawing board and began researching through endless archival files I have of 70s, 80s, and 90s bikini fits and silhouettes. It took some time to develop the bikini's fabric, because I wanted it to sparkle like crazy once the sun and water hit it. I posted a video of the Lure Glitter Bikini on Instagram and got an insane reaction from it immediately. That same day, I told my factory team, "Okay, looks like we're going to need to tack on another 700 pieces to this order."
How crucial do you think influencers are in bringing attention to a label?
Both parties win in this situation. Influencers are our walking advertisements. What's really great about product seeding is that we send our pieces to girls/guys with an aesthetic, style, and overall vibe that we truly appreciate and believe in. If we find a cool girl—even if she only gets about 300 likes on her posts—I'll send her product. In most cases, I don't really care about the engagement. It's more about how connected I am to their personal style. To me, being an influencer doesn't necessarily mean you have to have millions of followers. If you breakdown the definition of "influence"—that can come from anyone or anywhere.
What do you wish you saw more or less of in the industry? Where do you hope fashion is headed?
I wish people were more accepting of women taking leadership roles in business. There are a lot of strong women making a huge impact in this community, but in my opinion, there's still a bias that exists. I've experienced it myself. When I start new working relationships with people (typically men) who aren't familiar with my brand, they have a hard time viewing me as the boss, just because I'm a young woman — and typically dressed in a t-shirt sweats. If I were making the same decisions and demands, but as a man, I don't think they would think twice. I want us to get to a point where we don't have to say "girl boss" or "boss lady" because we just call her "boss."
What's a particular piece, or moment, are you really proud of?
I've been loving all the custom wardrobe pieces we made for Halsey. Doing custom tour wardrobe was new to me. I remember really wanting to create wardrobe pieces for her last year, but there was still a little bit of lingering inner doubt. It was out of my comfort zone. What I didn't realize at that time was that I could do it—I just needed the help of a great team. Seeing all of the completed looks on stage, was such a crazy strong feeling of accomplishment. My team and I worked really hard on those looks on a super short deadline, so I'm proud of all of us for pulling it off.
What milestone would you still love DG to hit?
We're working towards many business goals right now, and I have my own personal milestones I want to hit of course. Such as getting into more goal retail stores, furthering our growth, more collaborations I'm passionate about, and expanding categories—accessories, handbags, sunglasses, amongst many others. It's important to continually set new goals for myself and my business. When we hit a milestone we've been working towards, our following question is always, "What's next?"
Photos via Danielle Guizio