“You look a lot bigger than you actually are.”
We hear this comment often at life/after/denim. No, not referring to our individual physiques, but to the size of our company. We’re a small team over here… a very small team, in fact.
Our headquarters is happily nestled in a collaborative WeWork building in Culver City, where you can find our two designers, in-house marketing team, sales team, accountants, and, of course, our founder and creative director, Alexis. And believe it or not, we read each and every comment and question you guys leave us, whether on our Instagram photos or our Facebook posts.
One constant question which we’d like to take the time today to address, is:
“Why would I spend $X on one of your shirts or chinos when I can get it at XYZ store for a fraction of the price?”
Fair question. We’re more than happy to enlighten you.
Unlike many fast fashion brands out there, we don’t just mass produce product after product. Our shirts and pants are not simply cherry-picked from a huge pile of pre-printed fabric rolls and cut to fit our patterns. Quite the contrary, our designers hand-draw each and every pattern we make. The type of button used is carefully deliberated for each particular style, and every garment is tested on fit models time, and time again, to ensure the perfect fit.
Some of our garments, such as our limited-run outerwear pieces and web-exclusive pants, are created in extremely small batches in our sample rooms. For these pieces, there is one dedicated craftsperson working on each garment from start to finish, rather than passing it on in an assembly line. While it is more time-consuming and costly for us to produce our pieces this way, this process allows us to have the utmost control over our production and sometimes allows us to make styles that would not otherwise be possible.
In other words, here at LAD, we don’t just churn out our products; we design collections.
And because our collections are created with you, the consumer, always in our minds, we want to give you a look at what goes into each step of our creative process. Here are the beginning few stages… stay tuned for more to come.
Our design process starts with inspiration, which our designers draw from a wide range of sources – from sci-fi books to the California Coastline, from art and film to travel and history. A David Lynch film might inspire a seasonal color palette, while our travels to rural Thailand might influence the mood and styling of a particular collection. At the same time, history inspires and informs everything we do, from the early stages of concept creation and design, all the way through to production.
Our belief is that we shouldn’t try fixing that isn’t broken; we should just make it better. In the early stages of development, at the beginning of each season, our creative team discusses personal inspirations, and a design story begins to take shape as colors, images, yarns, and fabric swatches are applied to a mood board, giving the story a tactile form we can bring to life.
YARN, FABRIC & TRIM
Mills are the unsung heroes of the fashion industry; the beautiful fabrics and yarns we use are the product of their tireless dedication to innovation. We begin development by visiting our mills, in both Southern China and Los Angeles, and we work closely with them throughout the year to develop new fabric and yarn concepts.
Sometimes this process can take years. For example, we spent two years getting the density, weight, and finishing just right on the twill we use in our Five Pocket Pant (now available in our Spring 2017 collection). This dedication ensures that the finished garment has a hand-feel and character (one that gets better with each wear) unlike anything else in your closet.
We work closely with our trim suppliers in a similar fashion, hand-developing everything from our shirt and pant buttons to the concealed zippers we use for our hidden mobile device pockets.
COLOR & ART DIRECTION
Colors are carefully considered and selected for our core and seasonal base colors to not only maximize a collection’s visual appeal, but also help tell its story. Final selection is critical, as the choices will be used in every plaid, stripe, jacquard, and print pattern we develop. After pairing our colors with Pantone codes, we use CAD, computer-aided design, to create the various artworks that you eventually see on our shirts, jackets, and sweaters.
In order for us to properly assess whether a particular pattern and/or color combination will work, our mills must apply the artwork to fabric in a trial run. Our shirt and jacket patterns, for example, are tested on hand looms that allow us to weave actual yarn-dyed stripes and patterns into what looks very much like the finished product.
Similarly, a trial process allows us to see how print artwork looks on different fabric qualities and test various printing techniques to achieve the desired effect. The same goes for our sweaters; jacquard machines are used to knit patterns so that we can see how things will look before we move into the sampling stage.
Now that you know a little more of what goes into making each style, check out the inspiration behind our latest collection.