Out fashion designer Manuel Lara introduces his new men’s line.
by Barrett White
Gay Is God Made, Not Man Made. This belief is the inspiration behind a new men’s fashion line under construction by Houston fashion designer Manuel Lara.
Under the dim lighting and dull roar of the lunch rush at Brasil on Dunlavy, I met with Lara, who was sporting one of his own shirts and a light dusting of morning stubble. We discussed Lara’s new line of men’s clothing and what inspired him to create his designs.
GIGM was originally conceived as a fundraising initiative for a nonprofit organization, Lara says. However, when the organization changed plans, Lara continued to develop the designs on his own. “I kept calling [the organization], and I would ask, ‘Is it okay if I…?’ ‘Would I be able to…?’ and they were just like, ‘Manuel, it’s yours. Do with it what you need.’ [They told me to] stop calling, basically,” Lara laughs.
Lara’s GIGM brand acronym denotes something simple and honest: Gay Is God-Made. Though Lara doesn’t see himself as a fundamentally religious person, he does sway toward the “nature” side of the “nature versus nurture” debate. “Gay is not influenced by [how you were raised or] your culture, and it’s not something that can be ‘cured.’ You are or you aren’t,” Lara says. “Hence, ‘God-made, not man-made.’”
Lara has previously graced the pages of OutSmart with his original line of men’s jewelry—simple, inexpensive accessories that include jasper, dried seed, coral, turquoise, and rose quartz pieces crafted in hip styles for men to wear with basically any outfit. Since then, Lara has set jewelry-making aside and moved on to affordable men’s clothing that includes button-ups and baseball tees, to name just a few of the styles that will be available through his website. He hopes to expand the line to include men’s underwear, hats, and additional jewelry.
Lara’s designs are versatile and “easily interchangeable between the office and the club—the meetings and the parties. Throw a sport coat over it for the office, then roll up the sleeves when you go out.”
Not unlike other young designers, Lara emphasizes interchangeability throughout the day. The thing that distinguishes a Lara garment is the chic simplicity that keeps prices low and fashion high.
The “God-made” idea that hatched the GIGM line also helped Lara adjust to the belief that one should always be honest with oneself. Coming from a family that was typically traditional, growing up was not always easy for Lara before he came to terms with his sexuality. After years of keeping quiet about himself, Lara decided it was time to honor himself and put his aspirations in motion. “Through GIGM Not Man Made, I feel like I can finally open up, and hopefully inspire others to do so, as well,” he says.
Lara is also a professional photographer who offers his camera skills for hire when he isn’t busy photographing his fashion designs. “I had an unfortunate incident with someone photographing my clothing. The lighting was wrong, some pictures were blurry, so I decided to start doing my own photography, and I haven’t looked back,” he says.
His “unfortunate incident” turned out to be a cloud with a silver lining that led to a lucrative side-job to his fashion career.
To help launch the new line, Lara is opening a Kickstarter campaign featuring a 30-day program of daily videos and fun for his supporters. He hopes to have everything ready for online sales in time for the June Pride season.
“My goal is to get to know you,” Lara says.
The GIGM Not Man Made line will be available through Manuel Lara’s website as it is released.
Visit manuellaradesigns.com for more of Lara’s photography and fashion.