Interview: Lara Intimates founder on building an innovative sustainable underwear brand

As eco-friendly fashion continues to grow, sustainable wear has become a more sought after option for buyers.

Lara Intimates offers lingerie that celebrates the diversity of women’s bodies and is dedicated to using environmentally friendly materials.

Cindy Liberman and Faith Leeves created the brand in 2016, after visiting factories globally and discovering the negative impact fashion could have on the world.

FashionUnited had the chance to speak with Liberman in an email interview on the inspiration for Lara Intimates and how the company aims to make women feel empowered through their products.

You studied fashion in London and visited several factories while abroad. How did being aware of fashion development on an international level influence the development of your brand?

In Western countries, we're very disconnected to where clothing is made. There is a lot more information now about harsh conditions in apparel factories, especially in the Far East, but it definitely makes more of an impression when you actually visit those places. Faith (Leeves, my business partner) really enjoyed design and development and sewing at university. In industry, those jobs aren't respected or admired. We thought we could utilize our skills to build a different kind of factory.

What would you say Lara Intimates provides that is unique in eco-friendly fashion?

There are lots of sustainable and eco-friendly lingerie brands now but the problem is, their only USP is sustainability. Our customer likes sustainability as an added bonus, but it's the product quality and unique size range that sells our bras. Since we have our own factory, we can offer one of the widest bra size ranges in the world: 28A-36F and even more sizes coming soon. There is a huge market of women with big boobs that are sick of wearing uncomfortable wired bras, but they still want something structured and supportive.

You have a bra sizing feature that buyers can use via your website and a blog, The Boob Diaries, profiling women whose lives have changed after they discovered they were wearing the wrong size. Why was it important as a brand to highlight this?

The bra sizing calculator was a no-brainer for us. I'm baffled as to why so many major lingerie retailers don't have one. It's 2018 and e-commerce is growing. We want to be industry leaders in showing it's possible to shop for bras online. After we launched the brand, we started meeting customers for fittings and realized that it was the sizing that sold the product, not the sustainability alone. Every woman that came in for a bra fitting had her own horror stories about shopping for bras. Women are so frustrated with bra shopping, it's incredible how willing they are to talk about their experiences openly! So we decided to use our Instagram to share those stories through The Boob Diaries.

Where are your items made and what challenges do you face receiving shipments of sustainable items/materials?

Our items are made in-house. We just moved to a new studio in Hackney Wick. One side of the room is sewing machines, pattern cutting tables and fabric. That's where everything is made. The other side of the room has 2 fitting rooms. We invite customers to shop in the studio, try everything on and see how we work.

We use deadstock fabrics - unused textiles from large factories or brands around the world. The origins vary, but the majority of our mesh is a European fabric. Deadstock is great because you can typically buy it in small quantities, it's high quality, it's not too expensive and you're using fabric that would otherwise go to waste. The downside is that you can't predict the available quantities and the supply can run out anytime. One of our colors ran out for the first time last week. Now we're recalculating how to use dead stock in limited collections and not over promise a certain color to customers.

Do you feel eco-friendly fashion is set to become the norm? Have you felt a renewed interest in your products as sustainable wear has grown?

I hope eco-friendly fashion becomes the norm, but we still have a long way to go. I love that there are so many small brands on a mission to make change, but I think it's even more important to figure out how to be sustainable at scale. There are 2 battles: we need to better educate people on the importance of sustainability and encourage them to vote with their wallet. We also need to make sustainability a requirement for company supply chains.

Photo: courtesy of the brand.




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