Meet Amanda Bear of Larkspur Lingerie
Larkspur was created by Amanda Bear and her friend, Felicia Gaxiola. Inspired by a love of vintage clothing, bohemian neighborhoods, and the occasional rock show, the collection is understated sexy, but still comfortable. Larkspur locally sources soft eco-friendly fabrics like organic cotton, silk blend knits, repurposed silks, and stretch laces to be lovingly hand-sewn in Los Angeles. The result is the perfect blend of sex appeal, comfort, and style. Felicia has since moved on, but continues to be a wonderful support and inspiration. Amanda was kind enough to field some questions and spill all the deets about her and Larkspur. Enjoy!
How long has Larkspur been a brand?
I've been developing Larkspur for about a year and a half, but the website with actual products has only been up for a few months. I really wanted to give myself time to perfect the fits and get the supply lines in order so that it would be ready to grow when the time came.
I'm curious about your workspace. What's it like to work at Larkspur? How many people are part of the team?
I have a small studio at a fantastic cooperative workspace in an old paint factory in downtown Los Angeles called Big Art Labs. Right now, I'm the only full time person, and a lot of times I end up sewing samples and sometimes the pieces themselves. There are also four of my friends that work part time helping with marketing, branding, sewing, cutting, fit modeling, and whatever needs to be done. In addition to that, I have an amazing community here in downtown LA where I've found most of the photographers and models to produce my images. They have been kind enough to help me get started by working for underpants and lots of love!
What motivated you to start a sustainable lingerie line?
I was shopping for lingerie myself, and looking around at what was available online and there wasn't really much that inspired me. The kind of stores I usually shop at just didn't have anything as attractive to me as their clothing was. And other places that sell more mainstream clothing weren't selling anything that was comfortable or sexy to me in the way I wanted it to be.
Why is sustainability important to you?
The way fabric is produced can be very wasteful, and I want to be part of a group looking for ways to do things better. I know that organic or "eco-friendly" is imperfect how we do it now, but I want to support farmers who are looking for ways to farm better in a way that is less destructive.
What challenges and benefits are part of your sustainable design process?
The fashion industry is mainly focused on the way styles look, and is generally not too interested in where or how garments are produced. For me, I like to start with a fabric that first, is the most appropriate for the application, second, is the most sustainable, and third, is the most beautiful. For example, cotton is the most appropriate for underwear because of it's breathability and health benefits. Second, cotton is not a very sustainable fiber in general because it takes so much water and chemicals to grow, and then pollution from shipping from India or China. So I look for organic cotton grown without chemicals in the US to eliminate at least two of those problems. Third, I look for the softest, most beautiful US organic cotton. I balance the additional cost of working with these materials by having very limited retail sales and selling mostly online. I have definitely had issues acquiring organic materials since they are in such demand compared with production, but so far I have been able to get fabric in time since I use such small amounts.
How many pieces are typically in each line? How often do you produce a new line?
Well, since I mostly sell online it's not really necessary for me to work in seasons, so I am constantly developing and posting new styles. Some of the colors of the cotton are natural dyed, so they are of themselves limited edition because roots and barks tend not to give up the same exact color each time. That being said, I will probably always have the Hazel cotton panties, bodysuits and bralettes, but I will be constantly adding new styles and taking out old ones as they sell out. I also try to have a special edition item at all times, new every month or so, made from a leftover cool fabric I find. There are always about a dozen different sets available, and that number will be growing as time and capabilities grow.
Your models look, dare I say, human. What's behind your decision to keep them natural-looking?
I wanted to make a lingerie line that was appealing to women; something you would buy for yourself — not necessarily as a sex accessory — but more like underpinnings were in the past, where everyone had sweet underthings all the time. Women tell me all the time that they don't buy themselves nice things when they don't have a regular sex partner, and that just makes me really sad. I think everyone feels nicer when they're wearing something nice and pretty underneath. With that goal, I wanted to show how the styles would look on different types of body types. Because of the way I made the fit, they look great on lots of really different shapes. That being said, the models are definitely all size 4, amazingly beautiful models, had professional hair and makeup, photographed by amazing photographers, and lightly photoshopped. So don't give me too much credit!
There seem to be a lot of local and sustainable brands coming out of L.A. Would you say the community is supportive and conducive to brands like yours?
Yes! There are a lot of small sewing studios here. There is some fabric still made in LA, and there is a lot of leftover waste fabric from larger manufacturing. The shoppers are also into organic, so it's a great place to get started.
What are a few of your favorite eco-friendly places to shop/eat/play in L.A.?
I love taking a break to go eat at Homegirl Cafe; they have an amazing program and some very cool ideas about community food production. As for playing, LA has a lot of hiking trails, which is great way to connect with nature personally in a way that doesn't use electricity like gym time does. I also love going to St. Vincent de Paul's for some thrift store shopping, which is the original eco-fashion. I'm a pretty simple girl.
What does the future look like for Larkspur and sustainable fashion?
I don't know the future, but what I want is for sustainable fashion to be the only fashion. If it costs more to dress, I think it's our responsibility to buy less and buy more consciously.
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