Fashion Contour students Cindy Liberman and Faith Leeves are on the brink of something very exciting. Their brand Lara Intimates is due to launch in September 2017 and their Kickstarter campaign is almost 40% funded after just a few hours live. Having recently wowed a panel of industry judges to win the inaugural SET Challenge the graduates are on their way to revolutionising the lingerie industry with their no waste production. As part of our LCF BA17 Class of 2017 series, we talk to Cindy and Faith about Lara Intimates, their production plans and supporting British industry.
Can you tell us a little bit about yourself and the moment you knew you wanted to study fashion?
Faith: I grew up in Brighton, England, with a passion for art, design, photography and all things creative. From a young age, I collected retro and vintage clothing. I love bright colours, flattering garments and eccentric silhouettes. Once I discovered lingerie design, I knew it was my calling. I even have ‘Boobs Baby’ tattooed on my elbows!
Cindy: I moved from Boston, USA, to London for university when I was 18. I have been sewing since age 8, when my grandmother taught me about garment construction. When I moved to London, I learned about sustainable fashion for the first time and quickly made the switch from high street to second-hand shopping.
Talk us through your final project
This year, we teamed up to launch Lara Intimates, a sustainable underwear brand launching September 2017. The collection handed in as a final major project is the same collection that will launch this Autumn. Every Lara garment is made from reclaimed fabrics, unused or mis-dyed by large factories or brands. The brand also produces zero fabric waste, converting all scraps from the cutting room floor into stuffing for a new garment. The range includes a complete underwear wardrobe for women with soft bras, wired bras, bodysuits and briefs. Sets start at £65. Production will be done in-house in Lara’s London studio. This allows for accessible price points and quicker lead times. No factory minimums also means we can extend our bra size range from 28A-36E.
What is the story behind Lara Intimates?
Cindy: We were frustrated by the lingerie industry in its current form. Products were all very similar and nothing reflected our personal style. On top of that prices are high, fit is poor and there is very little concern for the environment from most underwear brands. Faith did her work placement year in Australia and I visited her in Melbourne. While there, we started talking about setting up a brand together. When Faith got back from Australia in May 2016, we were still excited about the idea so we started designing. The collection grew organically from there.
What techniques or theories did you use to create your final piece of work?
The Lara range uses some innovative methods for lingerie construction. Seams are finished with bindings rather than overlocking for a cool piping detail that looks very high end. We wanted garments to be supportive without the bulky elastics or heavy powermesh used in most conventional lingerie. Faith came up with the idea of using double layers of mesh that look beautiful while being really functional.
Have you won any prizes?
Lara Intimates won the Student Enterprise Challenge in March 2017 which awarded £5,000 and mentorship.
Have you been in the media?
Following the SET challenge win, Lara Intimates was featured in Lingerie Insight. Recently Lara was again featured in Lingerie Insight and Drapers. Features in Glass House Journal and Tapered Magazine are expected in May.
Have you undertaken any work experience or done a placement whilst at LCF? Where and how did you secure this work experience or placement?
Faith: I worked for Kini Swimwear in Australia during my work placement year.
Cindy: I worked for a lingerie start-up brand before working briefly at Asceno. Then I moved to Qardio, a technology company where she worked on the digital marketing team. We both found these positions by personally pursuing the roles.
Have you met or been inspired by any speakers from the industry whilst at LCF?
Describe your work and aesthetic in five words…
Sustainable, considered, colourful, craftsmanship, wearable
Do you have a muse? If so, who and why?
We don’t have a muse exactly, but the brand vision started by exploring who Lara is. What does she like to do? Where does she work? What kind of clothes does she wear? Who are her friends? What does she value? Once we articulated who Lara is, we made garments that she would want to wear.
What influences your style and work?
Vintage silhouettes are a huge inspiration for Lara pieces. Retro styles often have a lot of support and coverage, which is a great starting point for lingerie. Then we try to update those styles with sheer fabrics and cool finishings.
What are your plans for the future?
Our Kickstarter has gone live. The aim is to grow Lara Intimates into a global brand and establish the Lara Intimates factory as the next generation model for excellence in lingerie production.
How do you think your course and LCF will help you achieve this?
BA Fashion Contour brought us together. It also provided an excellent foundation in technical design and garment construction.
Have you heard that LCF is moving to east London? What do you think about the move?
Since finding so many mentors at LCF, we’ve decided to set up the Lara Intimates factory in east London. Support from teachers and advisors is so valuable to us and we want to stay close to them post-graduation. I hope the new LCF campus provides a larger sense of community for the university and allows for more fluid and regular collaboration between students of all disciplines.
What music do you listen to whilst you’re working? Is there one particular track or artist that you like?
Sometimes throwback hip-hop if we’re in the studio. When we’re writing or concentrating it’s classical or jazz.
What do you think Brexit means for the fashion industry and studying in London?
We’re certainly not politicians and can’t say what Brexit will mean in the coming years. Whatever the future holds, we’re really proud to be sourcing and manufacturing in England, supporting British industry. Through the Lara Intimates factory, we hope to share our knowledge of specialist lingerie skills with a growing production team and play a part in the resurgence of UK manufacturing.