The supermodel sharing all the details of her creative (and stylish) new gig off the runway

By Sarah Kinonen
Updated March 19, 2015 01:00 PM

Joan Smalls has a very impressive résumé — a globe-trotting runway veteran, brand ambassador for Estée Lauder, plus, modeling campaigns with Marc Jacobs and a ton of other high-fashion labels — and now, the multi-talented supermodel (she’s only 26!) is tapping into her creative side to design a capsule collection for the popular denim brand, True Religion — inspired by her personal street style. We chatted with the famous catwalker about her exciting new role (a first for the model!), Fashion Month (it involves an endless amount of gum chewing and lots of quality time spent with her supermodel girlfriends) and more!

Credit: Venturelli/WireImage


Comfort is key when getting dressed.
“The leggings [in my collection] are very body conscious and make sure your butt look good. I’m Latina, so that’s the main priority [for me]. You want to make sure you feel good and that [what you’re wearing] is comfortable at the same time, because I know a lot of the time you put on things and even though they look good, they don’t feel necessarily comfortable. So with this collection, that came into mind.”

Along with designing a few pairs of comfortable, form-fitting (cropped and high-waisted) skinny jeans, the supermodel wanted to add a “borrowed from the boys” piece to her 16-piece collection.
“I love wearing my boyfriend’s sweatshirts, because I love feeling comfy yet sexy at the same time. So I always like mix matching a little masculine with feminine. With the sweatshirts, it’s something I’ve always personally wear — from different colors, to different sizes, to different cuts — and I figured doing a crop top sweatshirt is both of my favorite things combined.”

When she wasn’t tapping into her creative side for her first-ever capsule collection, she was busy jet-setting across the country for Fashion Month — a high-fashion, multi-city event that requires stamina, a whole lot of energy and a lackluster amount of sleep.
“Keeping a good energy is key. Being surrounded by people you really like takes a weight off the work. I actually love what I do, so it never feels [like] too much. And you have to make sure you always drink a lot of water and you know when to rest and when to party. You can’t continue to do every single night because then you’re not going to have the energy to perform the next morning for a show, for a shoot. So I pick and choose where I go a lot of the times.”

Along with staying hydrated and focused, she gets through the fashion-filled month thanks to a whole lot of chewing gum — even on the runway.
“I try to have a chewing gum. It’s so funny because I’ll be chewing backstage and the person in lineup or the designer will be like, ‘Are you chewing gum?’ And I’m like, “Yes, I am, but you will never see it on the runway!’ And you have not caught me in one picture on the runway chewing because I bite down on it. I don’t know if it’s for tension or just so my face remains the same way, but I put it back here [points to jaw].”

Courtesy of True Religion

She’s no brand snob when it comes to her minty snack, though. Smalls’s will chew any gum, from anyone!
“Whatever [brand] I have at that moment or whoever has chewing gum available, I will take it! No discrimination against any chewing gum!”

She gets by with a little help from her friends, like “It” girls Cara Delevingne, Gigi Hadid, Kendall Jenner and Lily Aldridge.
“You find a clique of girls that you get along with and like having fun [with] and have the same focus and drive as you do, and you come together and just have fun. And we’re always around each other. It’s not forced — we’re just friends. And [our friendship] takes away from [our] everyday schedule. We actually had a sleepover. It was fun! It was a group of us — Cara, Lily, Gigi and Kendall in Paris. That’s how we finished Fashion Month — our celebration. We went to Kanye’s performance at the Louis Vuitton Museum, had a sleepover and then all took our own journeys.”

She hopes to keep creating — and evolving — as a designer.
“Everything is an evolution from work to what you do to what your interests are, and this has been so much. [True Religion] has given me a lot of freedom to express myself. [Designing] is very refreshing outside of the modeling and the photo shoots, so of course it would be amazing to continue this for as long as I can.”

Did you learn something new about the supermodel? Can you believe she chews gum during every show? Sound off below!

–Sarah Kinonen