Featuring artwork by Davis Leflar
Featuring bright colors, profane language, and genderless styles, Vancouver based designer Lillea Goian is promoting a narrative of openness and inclusivity with her brand, PROFANITY. By creating her work while exploring identity and questioning her own preconceptions about herself, Goian has built a brand that is both challenging of the status quo and accepting of those who just want to be themselves.
When did you first discover clothing as a means for self expression?
I first discovered my love for clothing when I was two, but I was much too young to actually know how to put outfits together. I was really consumed by clothing, I preferred changing my outfit forty times in a day over playing with toys. I don't think I really realized how important it was to me in terms of self expression until I was around fourteen. At the time I was really trying to do what everyone else was doing and "look cute for all the boys". It never really felt right. I spent a year feeling confused and uncomfortable, wearing Hollister tube tops and tight pants...not really my calling. Once I was fifteen or sixteen, I started coming out of my shell, and eventually I just decided I didn't give a fuck anymore and I was going to do whatever the hell I wanted. I'm still growing in to the true me, as I'm only nineteen, but I'm very grateful for fashion and how it has helped me evolve in to who I am today.
Did you go to school to study fashion? When did you realize you wanted to start your own line?
Yes! I studied fashion merchandising for eleven months at the John Casablancas Institute in Vancouver, Canada. Once I finished that program I wasn't feeling 100% fulfilled. I needed something more hands-on, and my school asked if they could sponsor me for my own show. I said yes, even though I didn't even know how to sew. I ended up pulling together an eight look collection of reworked garments for my own show at Vancouver Fashion Week, all by using hot glue and hand stitching. Once I completed that collection, I decided design school was my next step! So in September of 2016, I started studying design at the JCI institute. The program ended in march, and since then, I've just been making more garments, networking, and trying to get the word out there about my brand!
How do you convey queerness and queer identity in your work?
I met my partner Emerencz back in January. Before that, I identified as a straight girl. I was going through a lot of personal confusion at the time and I wasn't really figuring out how to solve these issues I had been fighting with. When Emerencz came along, they helped me realize a whole lot about myself, and educated me quite a bit about the queer community. I've always been really into the concept of inclusivity. I didn't launch my actual brand until March, but even before then and before I met Emerencz, I knew that I wanted my clothing to be genderless. I want absolutely everyone and anyone to feel like they can wear my clothing if they want to. Equality is very important to me. I also have a somewhat popular saying that I put on a lot of my garments that says "what the fuck is she/they/he doing". I customize the print to whichever pronoun the specific consumer would prefer. I really just want everyone to feel important, and this is my way of showing that through my creations.
Your work is wonderfully loud. Have you always gravitated towards intense colors and patterns?
I've always been really into color. I definitely went through a few phases in high school of wearing dark colors only, but I think that was just due to how much I hated school. Color is really important to me. I really like clashing colors and patterns. Mixing and matching and hoping for the best is the way to go for me!
How did you come up with the name PROFANITY?
I was visiting my family back home, in Nelson BC, and I was thinking about how my grandma had gotten upset with me about putting the word "Fuck" on one of my shirts, and I said to a friend "I love using profanity on my clothes." Then it just kinda hit me, and I texted another friend to ask if he liked it, and his response was something along the lines of "YES THIS IS THE ONE!!" I also like to think that it's a pretty solid representation of my clothing because all of my garments are super vibrant and stand out quite a bit. I feel like it's clothing made for people who don't fit in with regular society. Profanity is a form of language that is seldom used by the "Plain Jane" type of person, it stands out when used in conversation, which ties in well with my clothing. I also put inappropriate lingo on basically every garment I make, so it all just kinda makes sense to me.
Can you talk a little bit about the queer fashion and art scene in Vancouver?
Vancouver is filled with plenty of queer related activities, like the queer arts festival, and the queer film festival. It's a very inclusive and accepting city. When it comes to the arts, I just feel like I am adding a newer element to the local community, by creating genderless garments that also include queer related statements on them!
If you had to describe PROFANITY in three words to somebody who has never seen your work before, what would you say?
It's fucking wild