Growing up on Long Island and attending private Catholic school, Michael Lombard (michaellombard.com) wore the same uniform every day. So, becoming the King of Leather, as he’s been dubbed by HuffPost, seems an unlikely outcome. The DC-based designer laughs. “Wearing a uniform every day made me realize I wanted to dress completely opposite of that,” he says, noting he was a rebel, even back in the days of wearing crisply pressed pants and button-down Oxfords and ties. The designer, whose breakthrough came during New York Fashion Week in 2017, introduces something new to his fashion arsenal this fall, the ML/20M and ML/15M Sneaker Collection. We talked with him about the line and why celebs love wearing his leather looks.
Who were your fashion heroes when you were growing up? Dapper Dan and Versace—they were cutting edge and did things never seen before at that time.
What was the one moment where you thought, “I’m a designer—people are actually responding to my vision?” When I checked my email one day and I had [notes] from both Forbes and Vogue asking to collaborate on an article about me.
The high-tops match Lombard’s clothing looks.
Why do you love leather as your design medium? Because it’s very challenging to manipulate. Sometimes I make leather do things that it’s not meant to do, so it’s fun. I love a good challenge.
So many celebrities, including Ovy on the Drums and Lele Pons, love wearing your designs—what resonates with them? Some have told me that it’s the uniqueness and edgy style. They want to look different, and because it’s mostly leather, it’s usually something never seen before. Celebrities love that.
The new ML line features long, padded tongues.
Your thoughts on the fashion industry and people of color? With social justice [protests] around the world, the industry is waking up, but more needs to be done for inclusion and equality in fashion. No handouts—just a chance to make a difference.
Why create a footwear collection? I wanted to create a high-end, comfortable, modern sneaker that also matched my clothing ideas. Hopefully, people will love the style, the colors, the long tongue and, most importantly, the comfort. It’s a sense of accomplishment to see my name on footwear.