LaDyra Lyte is a Central Michigan University alumni who has excelled in bringing activism to the fashion world. She is currently expanding her brand Lyte Fashion House to become a large fashion house. She wants to excel as a designer with her strengths to be innovative within this industry. She has been featured in numerous articles for her collections which voices her knowledge of how fashion can make a difference in the world.
Where did you find inspiration for your style? What makes you different from other black designers?
L: Inspiration. I have always been creative and sculpting. I love old couture fashion and I’m also very simplistic. My style is mainly a mixture of both elevated athleisure and couture fashion. And really the athleisure part is playing around with different textiles, a lot of different textiles when it comes to developing pieces.
Tell us about how you started Lyte Fashion House. What have you done with your brand within the industry after having graduated?
L: Started out as “Lyte Armr”. I started doing custom pieces for people. And no shade to black designers, but I think that all of us at one point were just doing custom pieces for people. And starting out like that, it wasn’t fulfilling enough for me because of how creative I am. So, I ended up taking a year away from the brand to focus on school and then relaunched into Lyte Fashion House in 2022. I developed new visions, new mission statement, new style, and just really took that year to find myself and really make sure that I knew where I was doing what I wanted to do. And Prof. Ian Mull is definitely one of those people who will literally sit you down in the classroom and tell you to just be creative, and making sure that we aren’t losing ourselves.
What does fashion mean to you as a black designer? What is the message behind Lyte Fashion House?
L: Being rebellious is a lot to what pertains to me with being in the industry. There’s a big stamp of how black people should be successful, and fashion is not on that list. Being rebellious plays a lot in how I design and what I design. So, this is a way for me to be creative.
L: There’s not really a message behind it. There's a lot of activism within my brand because I make a lot of my statement pieces like one of my most known collections, which is “Killing Me Will Make You King” But Lyte Fashion house is really just home to all my creations. No definite message.
Where do you want to take Lyte Fashion House in the Future? Do you feel that your unique style will have an impact on black culture?
L: I want to take it as far it can go. Which is wherever I decide to stop. I definitely want to become a large fashion house, that’s the goal, so just shooting for the stars.
L: When I had dropped “Killing Me Will Make You King”, I did not think that it would go as far as it did, but I was travelling a lot with that collection as it made it Minnesota and getting a lot of opportunities based of that and also a lot of articles are written about it. The collection had an impact on the black community and the white community as well. I faced a lot of racism for it though, especially in Minnesota. It was very uncomfortable presenting the collection, but still it was a good opportunity to just go and display the collection.
What was the inspiration for your final collection at the 2022 Threads Fashion Show?
L: My First collection with Lakyia was an experiment with our brand that we created. There wasn’t much inspiration for that collection as we just wanted to experiment together.
L: J799, which is my birthday, it was a representation of me giving myself my flowers. The collection was a mix of gardening and steelwork with couture fashion.
L: The tree of life collection, which had won “Best Overall Collection” was signifying my growth through my journey and all my opportunities that I’ve gotten thus far. So it was me being very direct saying that I had found myself because that collection took a lot of time and research. And it was a representation of defining my own aesthetic and being sure of how I wanted to design. Everything between those last two collections were very innovative.
Name your greatest strength(s). Do you feel those strengths have an impact on you, being a black designer? What struggles have you faced with being a young designer?
L: My strengths are my voice, my boldness and my need for innovation. I have a lot of bold ideas that don’t make sense, but it’s me trying to figure out ways to make those happen. Culture plays a big part into how I design and then my ability to be peculiar unapologetically since I do not really care to be put into a certain niche group. I feel that I have to design for myself. Trauma is also a big part of what I design because there’s a story behind all of them.
L: Insecurities. That is my worst battle, which is my design insecurities. Those things aren’t obtainable for me for where I came from.
In your opinion, which designers have you gained inspiration from for your own aesthetic? Are there any other black/POC artists, designers or creators that you have gained influence or inspiration from?
L: Major designers would be Norma Kamali, she’s just so weird and I love it. Alexander McQueen. Lois Alexandra Lang, Josephine Baker. All Detroit artists, I know I love all of them. And there’s so many in Detroit alone. I follow so many street artists right now and have started putting their artwork on garments. I’ve attended so many seminars and seminars just full of black designers around and getting to know them and being intimate friends with each other.
L: I gain influence also from my upbringing, as I grew up in Detroit and that inspired my own aesthetic. I know there’s a lot of graffiti and stuff here and there, but most of that is artwork and so that has inspired my aesthetic. I also have a whole book full of black designers, so it’s like all of them really inspire me.
How do you stay up to date with fashion trends? Are there trends you feel that are entering 2023 that should be left behind? Do you feel that trends are influenced heavily by black culture?
L: Social media is so quick to post wild stuff. You get to see the most Avant Garde stuff very quickly. I also look at Vogue and other trend websites or researching forecast websites. Also, by going to seminars. And some of those travel. Also, by networking with other designers in the area. So, I don’t know if I want to leave anything that I want to leave behind in 2023. I like to let people be people, even if I don’t rock with it.
L: PS. Fur boots need to go...
What do you enjoy about being in the fashion industry the most? As a black designer, do you feel that POC’s have influenced this generation’s style trends?
L: I just like that I can be myself. And I know that It’s not the most fulfilling route right now, just yet. I just like that I can create and not have it feel like a job and that I can be myself.
L: Yes, most definitely. Dapper Dan started it. He was straight up takin Gucci prints and putting them onto his own silhouettes. And definitely everyone from Brooklyn. Also, Detroit has a style and culture and I think it has to do with upbringing and resources and that has really contributed to how we dress. And I think black people use garments as a significant way to communicate status.
Tell us how you prioritize your duties as a fashion designer.
L: Bi-weekly. Me and Lakyia have a “sip ‘n sew” but I always try to be creative and balance in between my corporate job with my creative days. I have a schedule that I try and stick to. I am interning with my digital marketing specialist. It has helped me expand and it brings in a lot of clientele. And about every day from 9-5 I work and then from 5-12 I’m working on my brand.
What have/have not you learned or what experience have you gained after graduating CMU? Have you taken this knowledge into what you’re taking Lyte Fashion House towards?
L: What CMU hasn’t taught me was to have a retail start up and running the brand. I had to learn that on my own. But, I am learning and teaching myself by exploring industry resources.
L: Most definitely. I have added and applied them to my business plan. And to learn to research my competition to see what I can do differently or to find what areas they are lacking. I want to compete with people who are creating more high-end products
What does the future of fashion mean to you?
L: Everyone is going Avant Garde. I really love those woodblock shoes that I see on Instagram. I am big on art and makes me feel that I have more of a home and. Place. It’s cool to see people being unique and accepting themselves as individuals. It’s becoming more peculiar and it’s opening the door to artistry instead of just garments and other things. I really want to see 3D printing become more refined. They have it now where they can create really thin layers of 3D printed textiles, but not to the full extent of an entire fabric piece. Also, I want to see how fiberglass is used within fashion. I saw this girl make a garment that was fully made of fiber glass to make the full art piece from it.