At Lara, the idea is: if we can put brand, factory and customer all in this little ecosystem, how can we not get better results doing it that way?
Based in London and founded back in 2017, Lara Intimates was inspired by the feeling that “the lingerie industry was lacking in sustainability and inclusivity” (Lara Intimates 2021). Since then, they have become one of the hottest lingerie brands, placing bra-wearers at the centre of their production and ensuring those in the supply chain actually have boobs.
As of today, they’re the only lingerie brand in the UK to offer over 60 bra sizes (and increasing…) and operate on a zero-waste policy! Their impressively ethical supply chain uses dead-stock fabric in their products and every piece of excess material gets shred to recycle. All in all, you’re guaranteed a responsible product, where ‘sustainability’ isn’t just a buzzword, but a core element of their business model.
What’s best, they’ve just launched a new collection in six different colours using deadstock fabric. So don't be late to the party and check them out before they all go!
This week, we’re super excited to be placing the spotlight on Cindy Liberman, co-founder and CEO of Lara Intimates! Here’s what she had to say:
You went to London College of Fashion, coming over all the way from the US! What made you pursue a career in fashion? Have you always wanted to integrate sustainability into your career and business?
I grew up in the states, in Boston, and I learnt to sew from my grandma when I was really young. I wasn’t very good though…. I would just cut any pattern and do whatever I wanted, making little dresses and stuff like that. So, I had it in my head that I would do fashion design from a young age.
Then, at high school we had a rather elaborate drama department in the school, where I ended up becoming friendly with the director and making all the costumes. That was really funny! Just imagine this little sixteen-year-old, running around, dressing 40 people for these big shows! That was really funny because I was sourcing materials and pieces, and it gave me my first real job. Coming off of that, it felt right to go to fashion school, so I ended up going to London College of Fashion.
But I actually didn’t really know much about sustainability before I came to the UK. I’d say I really learned about it at LCF because it was a growing movement, and there were lots of lecturers who were really passionate about it. So the first three or four years were a learning curve. And then, by 2016 when we had the idea of the business, that was the point when it felt like sustainability needed to be a core element of the business.
I think you mentioned in an interview with ‘meet the leader’ (2018) that more than half of bras bought worldwide are made overseas, and that coming out of education, you were pretty disappointed to find that opportunities to apply your skills in lingerie design were limited in the UK. From your experience why have ethical, sustainable and comfortable bras, such as yours, taken so long to appear?
I mean, the simple answer is: I don’t 100% know.
You know, my impression at university was that one of the biggest employers of women in the UK used to be lingerie manufacturing, and now it's disappeared overseas.
I think ultimately there is no relationship between the customer and the factory anymore, so there is no respect for the factory or the work that they do. At Lara, the idea is: if we can put brand, factory and customer all in this little ecosystem, how can we not get better results doing it that way? if everything’s in one place!
At first, did people believe in this product when you were getting the idea off the ground?
… I’d say yeah, we had good feedback from the start…
Well, early on we had a big fit-testing party before the first collection came out. I think we had 20 women there, and 19 out of 20 women there bought the bra samples that we had made for them. So we basically made something in everyone’s size, and almost everyone bought it! Overall, that was a very good sign. Then, we did a Kickstarter campaign, where we saw quite a bit of traction and got good customer feedback from the beginning.
And what was the biggest obstacle in getting started?
I think definitely the most challenging thing in building this business has been setting up our own factory, just because there is a lot of technical skill and you need to bring on the right people that have experience working in factories and managing a team like that. But also balancing it with sustainability and the way the bra needs to be different from other factories or brands that exist. That’s definitely been the biggest challenge.
Why is it so important that online bra-fitting services like the one in your website exist and bra-wearers actually use them?
… I was really surprised when we started doing fittings, how many people tell you about bad bra fittings they’ve had… I actually did a day once, a couple of years ago, where I went around and had bra fittings at a bunch of different places. But by the end of it I just wanted to cry! Just imagine: people staring at your boobs, it was December, it was cold, you’re standing in these fitting rooms, feeling like your skin is turning blue… it was just HORRIBLE!
So, I feel like you just need someone who’s nice and friendly, but also have the option to do it from the comfort of your living room, where it doesn’t matter if your kids are running around in the background. Also, if you prefer to use a calculator and you don’t want to talk to anyone, you can do that, or just reach out to customer service.
I think, also, product knowledge is a really important part of it. If you’re in a high street company where there is a constant turn-over of products and there are so many different styles and the sizing, or one style is not the same in size as another style, or the fitter might not know every product really well, etc its hard to give good advice … That’s just not the case for us because we have a really small collection and customer service really does know every product really well, and they’ve seen it on so many different body types so they can really help get good and concrete advice.