“You have to do all you can, while you can.”
Last week, I had the privilege of sitting down with local fashion designer Charles Smith to get the inside scoop on his journey into fashion design, his influence on fashion in Dallas, and his upcoming fashion show.
Why Charles Smith?
Before last week, I had never formally met Charles Smith but I’ve seen him around at different events around Dallas and naturally, he stands out and grabs attention. The way he dresses, the way he carries himself, his overall demeanor is not of the typical Dallasite. When I saw different people pubbing for his fashion show on various social media outlets it all made sense. Immediately, I wanted to know more about him, what inspires him and how he got started.
Originally from Harlem, NY, Charles Smith migrated to Dallas, TX to play basketball in High School. Smith remembers always being very different from his peers although as cliché as it sounds, he didn’t become one of the popular kids till he started playing basketball. Outside of basketball, Charles Smith was a professional model for a large majority of his life, starting high fashion modeling at 14 years-old and signed to agencies such as Elite Model Management in Miami and Milan, Italy.
Smith recalls seeing clothes in stores that bored him and decided to do something about it. “F*** it,” he said. “I’ll just do it myself.”
Smith has always been creative and had a vision but it wasn’t till he quit basketball that he started listening to his instincts and got a better understanding of his creative goals.
“It was like a vault that was unlocked.”
On Being a Fashion Designer
I know you’ve read/heard all the many quotes about how you should work doing something you love and you’ll never work a day of your life. Well, Charles Smith has proven this to be true. Smith can literally work countless hours, sewing and sketching and coming up with new marketing ideas for his brand and it doesn’t feel like a burden to him, he enjoys it. According to him, there’s always something to be done. He describes fashion as an obsession and believes, “you can’t be a fashion designer if you’re not obsessed, always wanting more.”
On Being an Influence in Dallas and on the Fashion Community
As a young African-American designer located in Dallas, his style of fashion is out of the ordinary. You will not see many people create similar designs in this area especially coming from his background. The designs he creates appeals to so many different types and groups of people. What he does, no one else does and is consequently hard for the Dallas fashion community to ignore.
“It’s an art form to me… an art form of expression. It’s not just about getting people to wear the clothes… I’m going to keep doing what I want to do at the end of the day.”
Smith wants people to know that if he can do it coming from where he’s from, anybody can do it.
What makes Charles Smith an influential person in Dallas is the fact that he stays true to himself, who he is, and what he wants to do…. Plus, he’s good at it.
“I am who I am and I do what I want to do. I say what I want to say and how I want to say it. I live and that’s it.”
Would you still do what you’re passionate about even if no one took notice?
5 Things I learned from Charles Smith
- Always remain true to whoever you are
- Don’t compromise your dream or vision
- Your instincts will not steer you wrong
- You have to do all you can, while you can
- “You gotta fuck’em up”- Halston
To learn more about Charles Smith and Smith The 2nd visit: http://www.smiththesecond.com/
Article updated October 2017. Originally published March 2014.