Jessica Lombana began her designing career in March of 2013 when she created a hand-made boutique collection of girls shoes for her company Deco Baby Shoes on Etsy. Since then, she began working on sketches and ideas for a women’s collection. In 2014 she enrolled in the Art Institute of Houston as a Fashion Design student and created her first Spring/Summer 2015 swimwear and apparel collection under the name of LOMBANA by Jessica Lombana. She believes that women must embody elegance yet be sexy and bold at the same time. LOMBANA uses sleek silhouettes, embellishing, and luxurious fabrics to blend glamour and edginess; Creating exclusive designs that truly represent the different sides of a strong woman’s nature.
“I create for two main reasons: Business and my own urge.”
JG: When artists create they generally have a vision, I feel like in the clothing industry the same frame of thought would apply. When you sit down and say, “I’m ready to create” What kind of artistic visions do you have?
JL: I create for two main reasons: Business and my own urge. When I sit down to create for business purposes, like for example, creating an exclusive collection for a boutique, I think about the boutique’s aesthetic mixed with mine. I imagine their clients, what would they dare to wear when they want to go out and party. What garment can my customers wear that can go from day to night. When I create out of my own artistic urge, I’ve noticed that the main inspiration is always a dark, beautiful villain. I always have the vision of this sexy, elegant, bad girl in black.
JG: When you envision your garments on people what kind of style do you see it in? Sometimes when I look at photos I look at them from a cinematic perspective, what kind of perspective do you see your designs in? What era?
JL: I see my designs from a goth glam perspective. I envision them being worn at clubs and parties. Even my swimwear, when I design my swimwear I am always thinking about pool parties.
JG: In terms of trends what do you see as a common theme in swimwear? I noticed when shooting the swimwear that you have your own aesthetics when it comes to your design approach, do you feel like these are in keeping with what’s current or would you call it a part of the evolution of Jessica Lombana?
JL: I like approaching swimwear in a timeless manner, with classic silhouettes, because the problem with trends is that they don’t last long. In terms of evolution, I would say that I now have a soberer approach to my garments because I know my clients. I would also add that there are more comfort and form fitting details than my first collections. I want my customer to have a piece that she can always wear, that is never going to be out of style. A piece that she can use anywhere and match with almost any color. I like solid colors because you can mix them with anything. I like triangle bikinis and halter tops because they will never go out of style. And then of course, I like black swimwear because it identifies my brand.
JG: So a lot of people in the industry know this but for outsiders that aren’t fully aware recently there’s been a lot more focus on “Plus Sized” models as headliners and in swimwear campaigns. Do you see the Lombana line going in that direction? Has it already? I know there are some lovely curvy women out there that would love to be a Lombana supporter, and lets not stop there! What about something for the boys?
JL: We launched a plus size collection for SS17 but unfortunately it was unsuccessful. The plus size industry is definitely something that I am interested in but feel that I need to do more research on how to approach it successfully. I am very curvy myself, very far from the models in my look books. I now have a more body conscious approach on my designs, for sure. As far as boys, I plan to collaborate with Ebed Garcia who is a Men’s apparel/swimwear designer from Houston next year.
JG: So you and I met here in Houston but I can never remember, are you from here?
JL: No, I am originally from Santa Monica, California. I’ve lived in California, NYC, Houston, and in Colombia for 10 years.
JG: What do you think of the Houston fashion scene in 2018? And real talk how do you feel about inclusiveness being a Latina woman In Texas diving into an industry that in undoubtedly classist?
JL: I feel that we are still behind in trends, however, I see the desire to be more edgy and support local designers. Many boutiques in Houston want to support local designers but are struggling with the cost. I think we need an official fashion week instead of all these charity fashion shows. I think that Houston needs to realize that the fashion industry here needs financial support to grow the business, we have the diversity and creativity to do so. About inclusiveness, as a Latina, I have honestly been very lucky and have had support from different communities, social classes, and ethnicities. I have had to knock on doors on my own to make it here. Initially I was so afraid to not be taken seriously at high end boutiques because I was a minority and I was not fancy enough. I felt so insecure, and I felt like I was not smart enough to approach buyers and convince them that my products would sell. But trial and error is necessary to grow, I have learned from mistakes I have made in my collections by listening to criticism. I had so many fears and I had very little resources to market myself. However, I said to myself: “It’s now or never. I am not going to let my insecurities stop me from achieving what I want. I am going to let go of my fears. The worst they can say is no and I will move on. I am not going to let my ethnicity identify what I have to offer as a professional. I’m doing this and I don’t care.” I think that this confident approach has helped me. When I look at a client, I look into their eyes and listen to their needs. That’s all that matters to me, I don’t think about anything else.
JG: So correct me if I’m wrong but the Lombana line definitely has a sexy edge to it, a little more than your regular swimwear. I’m personally a huge fan of the one-piece because of its simplicity and streamlined fit. What’s sexy and what’s innovative to you when it comes to swimwear?
JL: Sexy is everything to me. Sexy is the foundation of Lombana. The silhouettes on the bottoms are very important to me, I think that butt cheeks are sexy and beautiful. Because of my interest in bondage, most of my pieces tie at the back, neck or hips. I think that triangles look beautiful over the breasts and cleavage is necessary.
JG: A lot of fashion houses have been doing collaborations, capsule collections, pop ups, etc. I feel like as influencers we have this undying urge to present ourselves, as we should. A lot of designers do creative things like installations, or performance art to showcase their works of art. What fashion house would you collaborate with as a designer? Tell us about the runway?
JL: In local terms, I would love to collaborate with Handbag designer Elizabeth Purpich, Mysterious by NPN, Chelsey White, House of Enid, and Inclan Studio. Outside of Houston, I would love to work with Zana Bayne, Majesty Black, House of Malakai, and Carolina Sarria.
Jessica Lombana is definitely one of my favorite independent designers that I can say I know personally and call a friend. A strong work ethic and willingness to think outside the box make her somebody any fashion enthusiast should want to follow. You can see what she’s up to on her Instagram and Facebook profiles below.
Photography by Jesse Greene