Lillea Goian sticks out like a sore thumb on the streets of Vancouver. And that’s the way she likes it. The 20-year-old fashion designer has built her career around pushing boundaries with bright, gender-fluid outfits that explore the concept of individuality. And now, Goian—known professionally as LillzKillz—has the opportunity to show her new spring/summer 2019 collection for her brand Profanity at New York Fashion Week.
Goian, along with seven other local designers, was invited by the Global Fashion Collective team at Vancouver Fashion Week, an event that she has been extremely involved with over the past few years. VFW sponsored Goian to go to Tokyo Fashion Week last year, where she appeared in Vogue Tokyo and NYLON Tokyo.
Goian has to come up with the $9,000 entrance fee for NYFW, which is the minimum to get into the event. She is trying to raise the money through a GoFundMe campaign.
“Coming up with all that money was kind of impossible. My whole family has exhausted all their finances,” said Goian. “I was thinking about emailing the Global Fashion Collective team and telling them I couldn’t do it, but this GoFundMe was kind of the last resort.”
Profanity is devoted to open-minded, colourful individuals who want to express themselves in the most eccentric manner possible, says Goian. Because most of her pieces are custom-made, Goian feels that the designs make her customers feel more like themselves.
“I just really like to help people feel comfortable in their own skin and help them understand that they can add more interesting pieces, and there’s ways that you can dress yourself and still not feel awkward or uncomfortable,” said Goian.
The colours are wild, and Goian tends to favour heavy vinyl and custom fabrics, which do not exactly fit in with Vancouver’s often sporty, understated fashion tastes.
“I’m not particularly here to try and change people in Vancouver’s perspective. It’s more about people in the world that need that inspiration, and need that specific person who does [fashion] for a living and can help them kind of comprehend that being an artist is not just a hobby,” said Goian. “You can make a career out of it and do something crazy and colourful, get away with it, and help other people feel good.”
Being the face of a company
What sets Profanity apart from many other brands is that Goian has put herself in a public-figure position, which she considers to be extremely important in making a company stand out.
“Profanity is such a direct representation of my own personal style,” said Goian. “I’m definitely getting to that point now as an individual where I’m starting to figure out how I want to dress and how I want to present myself.”
But don’t expect Goian’s collections to be the same every year.
“I’m so all over the place with what I wear, and I think that’s cool,” said Goian. “I feel like so many people just have one style, and I’m definitely realizing that my style is just as fluid as my brand is in terms of gender.”
Like Goian, the Profanity brand will continue to evolve, sometimes in extreme ways.
“It’s about stepping outside the box all the time and doing things different all the time,” said Goian. “I feel like everyone has this one theme and they have to stick to it always and forever. It doesn’t have to be like that.”
Goian’s new collection will consist of nostalgia-infused pieces that incorporate football jerseys, hoodies, '90s sitcom inspiration, mom jeans, and yes, even pieces from a car junkyard. All with a “Lillea-ish modern twist on it", she says.
Most of Goian’s customers and fans come from Instagram, where she has situated herself as a must-follow designer. In just over a year, the Profanity Instagram page has increased to nearly 5,000 followers. Her personal account @lillzkillz has grown to over 8,000 followers from 2,500 followers in just a year.
Breaking into a global market
The Global Fashion Collective is an expansion of Vancouver Fashion Week that specializes in supporting designers like Goian in establishing a presence around the world.
“Lillea is a perfect example of how a designer can succeed if they’re given the platform to do it,” said VFW and Global Fashion Collective CEO Jamal Abdourahman. “And she’s done it so fast.”
Part of Goian’s success can be attributed to her representing the brand 24/7, and surrounding herself with friends and artists that support her by wearing her styles, says Abdourahman.
“The first time I saw her at VFW, she showed up with all her friends dressed cool. All dressed up in bright clothing. And I had never seen that before. It’s unusual to have a whole team like that supporting [someone],” said Abdourahman.
The GoFundMe campaign is not just about getting Goian to the runway to show her new collection. It’s about networking and media exposure.
“New York is one of the great platforms,” said Abdourahman. “Media buyers come from all over the world. Look at Lillea’s experience. She’s so young, but she’s already met all these people and shown her skills. There’s a very good chance that [our designers] will make a mark. They will have presence.”
Goian now has employees helping her with designs and a studio in Vancouver, and says that showing her collections outside of Vancouver is key for taking her brand into its next phase.
“It’s an amazing opportunity and just saying that I’ve shown my work in New York is incredible. And it gives me that leverage as a brand to keep pushing and keep making things happen for myself,” said Goian.