On belonging & a sense of purpose: David L., Head of Fashion, Pomelo

by | Jun 16, 2022

From a young South African boy who loved to draw to being the Fashion Director at Condé Nast – home to iconic brands such as Vogue & GQ – and then finally moving to Thailand as Head of Fashion at Pomelo, David Lerouw Lascurain has come a long way.

In honour of Pride month, David sat down with us to share his path into fashion, and tell us what it really means to find a safe space & community as a gay man in today’s world.

Tell us a little about your foray into the world of fashion.

It all began over 15 years ago. I always wanted to be in the fashion industry. As a child, I used to sketch and draw a lot, but I didn’t know if I wanted to be a designer. Over the years, I had a number of creative pursuits – I was in a band, I would illustrate, I would do storyboards – all kinds of things. And then one day, back in South Africa, where I’m from, I was asked to assist on a GQ editorial with a very well-known stylist. While assisting on that, I realised I loved the experience. I loved the styling, being on set and working with photographers. Seeing how it went from conceptualization to execution, working with the garments, the designers and then putting it on a model to finally produce beautiful images. I loved it all. 

Since then, I’ve worked extensively with a lot of advertising agencies. I started as an assistant stylist and then quite quickly went on to become a key/senior stylist at Trigger/Isobar. I was then headhunted into Woolworths on the same contract, an e-commerce company to head up the styling department, with a whole team of photographers and stylists. Alongside freelancing, I also worked with a lot of ad agencies.

In South Africa, you have to be able to do everything – fashion shoots, kidswear, homeware, fast paced tv commercials, food styling. I would do a lot and a little bit of everything. Later, I moved to Spain with my partner, where I freelanced. Prior to that, I was permanently with Condé Nast as one of their Fashion Directors. I was fashion director for GQ, and then moved on to Glamour and headed up all of that. Later, unfortunately, the publishing industry was not doing so well. A lot of our main magazines had closed down – Marie Claire, Cosmopolitan, even Elle. Fortunately, for Condé Nast, Glamour and GQ was still going strong.

At that point, I realized I didn’t want to be part of the direction they were going in so I made the decision to move to Europe. There I worked on editorials/commercials for sports brands, celebrities, high-end cars and luxury products. I also shot with Vogue, L’Officiel, InStyle and some other top magazines.

Finally, post-covid, I found an opening at Pomelo, Thailand. As a brand new opportunity in South East Asia – a place I hadn’t worked in before, it was a challenge I was excited to take on. So I took the leap of faith, and here I am today, loving every minute of it!

What does your role at Pomelo look like?

As Head of Fashion, I work very closely overseeing the amazing stylists in our team. I act as the bridge between styling and all our other departments including Category Management, Art Direction, and the Production team, trying to be that one voice that brings everyone together.

Day-to-day, I’m always at the studio overseeing fashion styling & photography, ensuring that we are keeping the core customer values for our Pomelo girls at heart. Alongside that, I have to be a big part of curation and visual quality control.

I must add, taking into account the South East Asian market while continuing to guide the brand, has been a new experience for me. From working on big marketing campaigns to overseeing shoots, everyday, I feel like I learn just as much from my team, as they learn from me. 

What does #Pride mean to you?

I think my proudest moment is that I’ve just been able to be myself many in many aspects, many jobs, many career paths and even here, today. I’m proud of myself as an individual, proud of what I’ve achieved so far. Personally, that’s what pride means to me.

If I had to pinpoint a proud gay moment, it would be being in this environment. Being part of a company where I have colleagues that are just openly gay, trans or just whoever they are –  but it’s not about our orientation, but rather, about us as individuals. I’ve never been in an environment that is so openly accepting and celebratory of you, as an individual. This is a an extra proud moment for me.

How would you define an ‘inclusive workspace’?

When it comes to fostering an inclusive workplace, at Pomelo, I feel like it does so very seamlessly. Almost like it’s not a thing – and that is how it should be, in my opinion. At Pomelo, I feel at home. From a day-to-day perspective, when it’s not Pride month, the color – the celebration of individuality – is always ever present. It is how I feel it should be. I’m the Head of Fashion. I’m not David, the gay guy, who’s the Head of Fashion. And that’s how it is for everybody in their role – whether they are our interns doing a Summer Program or the management team. Everyone is just who they are. It doesn’t matter what their orientations are. And it’s just normal, because it is actually normal to be who you are, to come as you are. 

Previously, when I worked in e-commerce, the experience was extremely difficult. You were somehow faceless whereas here, the culture is quite the opposite. People make the effort to know your name, to know who you are, what your role is and most importantly: to learn from you and equally invite you to learn from them.

What I love most about Pomelo is the open-learning culture. When you work in a fast paced fashion-tech industry, every minute, things change. To have a team or mentors that are receptive and openly willing to listen, grow and change with you is extremely important. And to do that without prejudice, as to who you are as an individual, is a joy to work with. It’s always about you and what you bring to the party and I don’t think it can get any more inclusive than this. 

What’s the best part about working at Pomelo?

Simply put, life here feels so seamless, so natural. You are treated first as human beings, and your orientation is not looked at differently. It’s just part of our life, allowing everyone who works here to feel at home, giving all of us a safe space to just be

Something as normal as feeling safe when you go to work can mean the world to somebody who doesn’t have that and I don’t take that for granted. Just to know that you can have a coffee with one of your colleagues and just be yourself is a privilege I know many aren’t lucky enough to experience. Here, you can wear makeup. You can dress how you want. You can talk about what you want. Something as simple as getting coffee with someone who treats you as a person before anything else, is a privilege many don’t have. I have many friends who have had the most awful lives, growing up and getting kicked out of their homes for being who they are. Some even take the wrong path finding no place to turn to. 

It really extends down to the word “home”. You want to feel like you have a home, a safe space. For all of us at Pomelo, we feel ‘at home’ here, able to be ourselves in all our unabashed glory. Having that safe space means a lot. It’s a very open environment. You can start talking about work and it will lead into a chat about a personal experience or personal conversation. And it doesn’t matter who you’re talking to – your supervisor or you’re just having a life chat with one of the interns in your team – the conversation is always very open.

If you had a #Pride message for the world, what would it be?

I read a quote and it rang true for me: “Gay pride was not born of a need to celebrate being gay, but our right to exist without persecution.” It’s been a long fight for something as basic as just having our human right to be. Instead of wondering why there isn’t a “straight pride” movement, you have to be thankful that you don’t need one. The Pride movement stemmed from having to create a huge riot and colorful experience to make us heard and be relevant. I don’t think anybody should fight to be relevant or to be heard. These are our basic human rights and should be treated as such. 

*For Pride Month, we are shedding the spotlight on 3 passionate Pomelo LGBTQ+ staff to share their personal journey, deep dive into what this month means for them, and tell us their story: loud and proud. 

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