“You are imperfect, permanently and inevitably flawed. And you are beautiful.”
― Amy Bloom
A few months ago I met a lovely woman through our blogger Marie - Andrea Reyes (A. Bernadette and NYC Fair Trade Coalition - of which we are now members). Upon meeting her and discussing why we started Lola & August, she thought it would make for a great blog post. I was a bit hesitant as I do not write blogs (I'm a Software Developer 35 to 50 hours per week) and I spend most of my time writing code, but thought I would take a crack at it as a lot of this information is contained only in my thoughts. Perhaps she is right, and perhaps I should share it, so here goes... ;)
Art and Fashion have always been a big part of my life. Art was how I expressed myself from the moment I held my first pencil.
As a teenager, my mum (and Lola & August partner) Joanna, taught me to love and appreciate fashion. To wear what I want, when I want, and to pay no mind to what others thought. Weekend trips to the mall became increasingly regular and putting together outfits, from head to toe, was always a favorite past-time of ours.
Fashion was how we bonded. Fashion is how we express ourselves. Not just myself and my mother, but each and every one of us.
In some ways, fashion has changed, but in a lot of ways, it hasn't. We have gone full circle once again and have revisited a time in history where women felt the need to alter their bodies in extreme ways. Well, maybe not as extreme, as historical corsets caused a lot more damage than most modern fads. Although fashion is changing and a lot of us are learning to accept and appreciate our bodies, we still have a long way to go. Photoshopping our own images to drastically alter our bodies, undergoing cosmetic surgery, wearing padded bras, wires, body shapers, waist cinchers and trainers, the list goes on and on... we are constantly bombarded to change who we are. We are constantly told that we are not enough.
A few years ago I walked into a lingerie store to be greeted by a salesperson who informed me of the new bra that will add two cup sizes to my petite 5'1" frame. As a B cup, that would bring me up to a D. I am no stranger to push-up bras. I own them, I wear them and I love them; however, I could not but feel I was told I am not enough. But having a strong personality, I can easily shrug it off and walk away, not allowing that moment to affect or change how I feel about myself. Besides I'm kind of used to it - every time I visit a mall with a flat-iron kiosk I have to deal with someone who feels the need to explain the Flat Iron due to my huge mane of unruly curls (that I LOVE by the way). But I thought about younger, impressionable girls who this would affect. I thought about other women who struggle with confidence and self esteem. These sales people are just trying to make a sale, but in doing so many are negatively affected.
The same goes for what we see on social media - so many photos of people drastically retouched anyone who studied basic anatomy should see it. Many people do not, though. I am stunned when I read comments left by users:
"Why don't I look like this?"
And this was only one reason Lola & August was born.
We wanted to create beautiful lingerie that accentuates our bodies, and not by changing it. No wires or padding. No pushing and pulling. Just beautifully fitted and draped lingerie.
“There is nothing more rare, nor more beautiful, than a woman being unapologetically herself; comfortable in her perfect imperfection. To me, that is the true essence of beauty.”
― Steve Maraboli, Unapologetically You
In keeping with the theme of female empowerment, that lead us to think about women and children, and then people in general, in other countries and the trials they endure on a daily basis. Where do our clothes come from and how/why are they so cheap? How can retail stores afford to have huge sales where everything ends up at 40% - 70% off their retail price? How much did it cost to make these garments and where do the excess end up? What is this doing for the environment?
And the people making our clothes...
Are they paid fairly? Are they paid at all? Do they work in safe working conditions? Are they of age to be working in factories or are they children who should be in school or playing with their friends?
There are a lot of questions to be asked when it comes to the Fashion Industry. There are so many issues to tackle that it's overwhelming and we do not know where to begin, and if we begin, then to what end?
We also wanted to create lingerie that was made ethically and that would last a long time. We decided to solve this by producing locally (blog about this coming soon) in very small quantities. In this way we can keep our carbon footprint small. We can ensure we are not over-producing items that may never sell. We want our products to last you a lifetime. We want to bring back a time where Luxury Fashion meant something was made well by someone who put their expertise, time and effort into it. This is not the only way to produce fashion ethically, but it was a way that we chose would work for us right now.
The Fashion Revolution is growing - a plethora of brands with their own ideas and stance on how they're going to make a change according to what is important to them. All of us are continually growing and changing how we function as we learn more. We share ideas and we support each other. There is just so much wrong with the Fashion Industry that it's so difficult for every brand to cover every single issue.
As Lola & August continues it's journey we hope to always bring you ethically made, beautifully unique lingerie and that someday all our textiles, fabrics, trims, notions etc., are 100% Fair Trade.
Sandra, Lola & August Co-Founder & Designer