Are there resolutions that you always make, but still don’t manage to keep? My resolution after and before each collection is: “Start designing the collection earlier! Unfortunately, I didn’t manage to start designing and planning earlier for the last collection. The reason for this was a chaotic end of the year and new challenges at the beginning of the year that I had to face as an entrepreneur with children.
Corona Lockdown, Homeschooling and New Challenges
My idea was to spend a relaxed Christmas time with the four of us as a family and to use this time to design the new collection. You’ll laugh at me when I tell you that as recently as October I naively said, “I can’t imagine us going into a lockdown again”. Then two weeks before Christmas it came. For me, daycare centres, schools and shops were closed from one day to the next! I felt so betrayed of my good faith that I was unable to do anything creative. There I sat with two children, juggling childcare and my fashion business once again. At the same time as the shops closed, an avalanche of orders rolled in! I couldn’t believe my luck and euphorically coordinated and packed the countless orders. There was no end to the avalanche and it continues to this day.
After the Christmas holidays, an additional special surprise awaited me: I was appointed a full-time primary school teacher! Without any guidance or instruction, I was given this title and alternated daily between my different roles: Mother, educator, primary school teacher, wife and managing director of a fashion company. My creativity was buried under this functional mode and even in terms of time, I didn’t know when I should have designed the new collection, let alone get it all done. As the planned photo shoot date in early March got closer and closer, I tried to squeeze the designs out of my head and literally succumbed to the pressure of time and creativity. When I could no longer sleep at night, I postponed the date by four weeks. Four weeks gained to put the ideas for the new collection on paper.
“I love creating new designs! It feels incredibly fulfilling for me to realise my ideas. While I was copying designs like an assembly line at other companies, I can finally design properly for l’amour est bleu!”
Back to passion – designing
I love creating new designs! It feels insanely fulfilling for me to bring my ideas to life. While at other companies I copied designs like an assembly line, for l’amour est bleu I can finally design properly! You can imagine that I have a photographic memory for colours and shapes. Everything I see and perceive is stored in my head, sometimes designs are immediately created from it. A beautiful building, plants, tiles, a pattern, a jacket fastener…anything that catches my creative interest is stored in my head. Additionally, I use Pinterest, my phone and notebook to collect ideas. Developing a collection from all the inspirations is the hardest part of designing. Before each collection, I listen to myself, feel the current zeitgeist and think about the feedback from my customers. I look at the new collections of my favourite designers and brands to get an even better feel for the current needs of society. During each of these different steps, individual ideas appear here and there in my head until the first ideas develop into concrete designs. Then I draw them on paper and change some more details. In this way, one design after another emerges. This process needs a free mind, which I don’t always find in my everyday work with my family. So the first designs can take up to several weeks. Afterwards, I put all the designs next to each other and see if they will make a capsule collection. Questions like, “Can the garments be combined with each other? Are they versatile? Can they be combined with the old collections?” are the main questions. Then designs are taken out of the collection again or I add some more so that a coherent collection is created.
Colours, fabrics and prices
The next step is the colours and fabrics. As a small fashion label, I am very limited when it comes to choosing sustainable fabrics, which sometimes drives me to the brink of madness. I only use certified sustainable fabrics to ensure that the fabrics have been produced under fair and environmentally friendly conditions and are free from skin damaging substances. I currently work mainly with between one and four sustainable fabric suppliers who meet my standards for design, quality and sustainability.
Now comes the unromantic part of designing the new collection, the price calculation. I have created a great Excel miracle for myself, in which I enter for each designed garment how much it costs in fabric and material consumption and what production costs I expect. I also add shipping, packaging and taxes and what retail price I want to offer it for. This is also the point where I decide which designs will stay in the collection or not. Often it fails because of the price, because there is not much I can do about most of the costs such as material, production, shipping, etc. For some designs, the selling price is too low because of the price. With some designs, the selling price is so high because of the material or the production costs that it doesn’t make sense for me. Because another crucial feature of l’amour est bleu is a fair price-performance ratio. It is important to me that the retail prices are in the right proportion to the product and that, above all, the seamstresses are paid fairly. If these criteria cannot be met, the design unfortunately has to go.
Engineering is also part of it
After the designs are determined, the cuts are made. A cut is constructed for each garment, consisting of all the individual parts of the garment. The cut determines the fit and drape of the garment and is therefore the most important part for the realisation of the design. Some of the new cuts I can create are based on existing cuts: Shorter sleeves, wider trouser leg, offset waist…it takes a few small adjustments and I quickly have the new cut ready.
For new designs, it is necessary to make completely new patterns, which takes a lot of time. I construct the new pattern, sew the pattern in nettle (a firm raw cotton fabric), try it on, make changes to the pattern and sew a new pattern. Only when the pattern is exactly what I want is the pattern finished. Sometimes during this step of the process I realise that the converted design does not meet my expectations and I have to say goodbye to the design and develop a new one. In the last step, a pattern is sewn in the original fabric, which we use for the photo shoot. I still make the cuts and patterns myself for the most part, because it is an essential part of designing for me.
If you ask about the current zeitgeist, everyone will answer “Corona”. The pandemic has fundamentally changed everyone’s lives and brought new needs into focus. Desires for greater work-life balance, sustainability, self-awareness and tranquillity are not new needs, but they have become more important as a result of the pandemic. “How can I meet these needs with the new collection?”, I asked myself when drawing the designs.
The result is a collection that adapts fluidly to a wide range of everyday situations. Blouses, dresses and trousers that are comfortable to wear and made from easy-care, high-quality fabrics to withstand home offices and childcare. A stylish knitted jogging suit that lets you dress up for a video call and take a quick siesta on the sofa in between. Various individual pieces that you can easily combine to create countless looks. The new collection makes it easier for you to cope with the ever-changing challenges of everyday life. You shouldn’t have to waste time on your outfit in the morning and you shouldn’t have to change during the day. There is no more business, occasion or casual wear, you should wear what you feel like and always look dressed. It’s a lifestyle that appeals to both women and men. That’s why I designed the first unisex styles that both men and women can wear. I hope to do you some good with the new collection and to have created garments that bring joy back into the current time.
MY FAVOURITE LOOKS
I’ll be wearing this casual outfit of knitted jogging suit and elegant kimono jacket on the first days of spring. The soft knit made of ECOVERO viscose (the most environmentally friendly viscose) keeps you nice and warm, is cosy and soft and has a high-quality look. For me, this is the new business suit! Add a vegan hip bag from nuuwai (brand new in the shop) and sneakers and you have a modern look for work and leisure time.
My second favourite piece from the new collection is the unisex Ellen shirt. It has a modern oversized cut and is versatile. On cooler days I will wear it with black slim fit jeans or leggings and add a gold necklace for a feminine touch. In summer, I’m looking forward to wearing it as a shirt dress with bare legs and sandals. Accentuate the waist with a belt and you have a comfortable summer look!
Of course a dress has to be one of my favourites! The Lakshmi ruffled dress in Tencel calls for summer. I will combine the Adele kimono jacket in beige with the tie belt to accentuate the waist. I’ll decorate the arms with eye-catching bracelets and combine it with the vegan crossbody bag by nuuwai in iced lavender – this colourful look is guaranteed to put you in a good mood!