Urban Palate: Smith Sinrod
Since her March 2010 appearance as a Gen Art “Fresh Faces in Fashion” designer in Miami Florida, as well as being featured on MTV’s hit reality show The City, Smith Sinrod’s line by SMITH has flown to new heights. Now available in about 75 stores in the US, as well as Canada, Japan and Indonesia, this fresh face in fashion draws inspiration from her surroundings, style icons of the past, and not to forget… family.
Jacob Paul: You’re spring and fall 2011 collections are inspired by streets, areas and landmarks in New York City, can you tell me what inspired you to go in this direction with your line?
Smith Sinrod: Well, I just moved to New York, so I thought that it would kind of be parallel with the changes in my life and I wanted to portray that inspiration. I always like to pick different cities to draw new ideas from.
JP: You took your fall 2010 London collection (which I loved) to the Gen Art “Miami Fresh Faces in Fashion” show last March which garnered you critical praise from the press, as well as national exposure on MTV’s “The City”. Can you tell me what it was like seeing your collection on television?
SS: It was surreal! I was so excited about the Gen Art show and being able to be involved in a real fashion week runway show, but to have MTV filming everything on top of that just made it even more crazy. It was definitely one of the best experiences I’ve gone through so far.
JP: What I loved about watching that particular episode is that while there seemed to be a ton of drama going on the side with other designers… (Smith laughs and agrees) you managed to not only stay out of the negative drama that was portrayed, but you really just let your collection speak for itself on the show.
SS: Well, it isn’t really like me to get involved in that type of situation, so it was actually a very real portrayal of me.
JP: How did you get invited to be a part of the Gen Art show?
SS: Well I was actually nominated by someone, so from there I was allowed to apply. To this day, I don’t even know who submitted my name. It could have been a professor, a buyer from the store… I don’t know, but somehow my name was thrown into the mix. After the whole application process, I was notified about two weeks prior that I had been selected for the Gen Art Fresh Faces in Fashion show.
JP: What did they tell you?
SS: They asked me if if I could get to Miami with enough shoes for models and put together a run of show in two weeks and… I had never done any that before! It was definitely exciting even with the pressure. It was awesome! And then we got the waver from MTV after we accepted.
JP: No! So you didn’t even know going into this you would be filmed?
SS: Not at first. It was really exciting though, but the waiting had me anxious to see how they portrayed me and my clothes. We filmed the show in March and I had to wait three months to see the edited result. Luckily, they were very nice to me.
JP: Good, because they weren’t so nice to Romina (Smith laughs).
SS: I was surprised that they gave me so much airtime, because I wasn’t necessarily creating a lot of TV-worthy drama.
JP: You were definitely a media favorite though.
SS: It was a good response all around, and it definitely helped me get things rolling thanks to the press which helped me create brand awareness.
JP: What did the Gen Art show do for your career and your brand?
SS: Before Gen Art, I didn’t really have a lot of press and it definitely provided vital exposure. Being a part of the show also made me really feel like I’m a part of their community. I really hope to stay involved as an alumni of the organization. There are so many fantastic designers like Zac Posen and Michelle Smith of Milly who also started as Gen Art “Fresh Faces”, so it gives me hope that maybe I can make it to their level someday.
JP: When does your fourth collection come out in stores?
SS: This August.
JP: And where can curious shoppers find your line?
SS: In New York, Diana Warner New York on 21st and Park. The southeast remains to be my most saturated area carrying my line. (internationally bySMITH can be found at Moule in Vancouver and Winnipeg as well as Little NYC and Jun Co., Ltd in Tokyo, Japan).
JP: What’s it like when you turn on your TV and you’re watching say “Live with Regis and Kelly” and one of the winners of “The Amazing Race” is wearing your Tribeca dress. What goes through your mind?
SS: That was crazy because my sister’s friend was picked as one of the top teachers for top teacher week on Regis Kelly, and she wore my skirt on the show that Tuesday. As soon as I finished watching that, I received an e-mail from Amazing Race winner Jennifer Hoffman telling me she would also be wearing my design on the show the next day. So that was really exciting for me, and she looked amazing.
JP: When looking at some of the pieces you’ve designed such as the Chrysler or the Madison Ave dress, it’s easy to see that you draw inspiration from architecture as well. How is it that you draw inspiration so easily from your surroundings?
SS: I feel like that’s something that has always come really naturally for me. I love going through old pictures of places I’ve been to or even certain style icons like Jackie O. I always have pictures of her on my inspiration boards. Even my great-grandmother who was this great fashionista… I now have a lot of her clothing and costume jewelry from the 50‘s and 60‘s which also inspires me to create a combo of vintage while exploring something new with my shapes and designs.
JP: I really love the geometric designs you use.
SS: Thanks! For this collection I drew inspiration from certain places like the Brooklyn Bridge with it’s cables. I wanted something to reflect that and luckily I found this wonderful fabric (she shows shows me her Bryant Park and Madison Ave dresses) which was originally meant for upholstery but I felt it really captured the look I was going for in representing the city.
JP: Who in the fashion business do you currently look up to?
SS: I think Tory Burch is a dead giveaway. Not only is she a branding genius- you recognize her logo and line immediately, she’s managed to create something really classic that reaches out to a wide audience which is what I hope to do eventually. I feel that its important to make yourself accessible to different types of women- a mother and daughter could both definitely wear items from my line.
JP: When did you know that you wanted to do this as a career?
SS: Not to sound cliche, but when I was a little girl I had this journal that I created a clothing line in and in 6th grade I made all the costumes for my talent show group. It is really something that I have always wanted to do. I was also the tacky little hat girl! I had about 20 little hats that I would alternate wearing every day to school.
JP: What did your classmates think of this?
SS: Well I guess they were accepting! My mom would even just let me dress myself and explore my creativity through my clothing selections. I must say that really helped, being able to express my creativity in that way.
JP: Thank God for mom!
SS: Really! She embraced creativity from the start. From tacky hats to helping me pick out fabrics for my collections, she’s really been supportive the whole way (Smith giggles), she even helped me paint this studio.
Miss Sinrod is currently working on details for her Spring 2012 collection. Inspired by the Amalfi Coast, look for hints of style icon Jackie O in this future collection. You can check out Smith and her collections by visiting bysmithcollection.com.