Feb 21, 2020
Interviews & inspiration | Daniela Pisciottano
Now that the dust has now settled on London Fashion Week, fashion designer Larissa Reit talks to Femie Magazine about sustainability, the origin of her brand and the importance of customer needs when designing a new collection.
The brand was founded on the premise that you would do something innovative with digital printing. In particular, optical illusion are a must in all of Larissa Reit collections. Where did the inspiration for optical illusions originate?
I wanted the garments to look futuristic and to have an element of three-dimensionality to it, almost like a hologram. So at first, I started to think about 3D printing, which seemed rather complicated and not that wearable at all. Then I started to experiment with volume, but felt like it looked incomplete, and not that innovative. So I started to layer different organza layers on top of each other because I felt like it was quite interesting to be able to see through to the layers below, and then thought “Why don’t I try that with the prints that I have?”. That’s how it started.
Born in Kazakhstan, raised in Germany and now established in London, you have said your collections incorporate German engineering, British innovation and Italian flare. What part of Kazakhstan do you think is best represented in your garments?
Definitely the colours and the prints. A lot of people in the West tend to keep their colour palette quite dark, especially in winter. In Kazakhstan people love colour and prints. It has probably to do with the weather as well, as it gets extremely hot in Kazakistan, in summer it goes up to 40-45 degrees - so you won’t see anyone wearing black in summer. But even in winter people love metallics and prints for going out.
The prints look quite oriental and quite different from the ones that I use, but they still give you a certain vibe - a happy one, which I like.
All Larissa Reit collections are designed with one aim in mind: customer needs.
You say your goal is to create garments that are as chic and innovative as they are wearable. Why do you think wearability is so important in an era where the “wow-factor” seems to be the only concern of fashion designers and creatives in general?
I think it’s important in the sense that, the garments become more sustainable this way and can be re-worn to many different occasions, also customers tend to remember what brands they wear the most and what styles fit them and will come back to that brand. I feel like the wow-factor is what’s going to catch the customer’s attention and make them buy into you, but the wearability is something that’s going to make them keep coming back to you.
We are great advocates of sustainability in the fashion industry and we appreciate that all your garments and accessories are designed and handcrafted in London. What are your stances on ethics and sustainability within the fashion industry?
Sustainably is extremely important to us, we believe every fashion brand needs to make a contribution, no matter how small the part, as it will make a difference at the end of the day. We are trying to do our part by keeping production in London and fabric sourcing, as local as possible. We are currently looking into using recycled polyesters to be either printed on or being used as linings. The tricky thing is that sometimes the print doesn’t come out as nicely on recycled materials - fingers crossed it’ll work. We aim to introduce more and more sustainability each season - it is not as straightforward as it seems, unfortunately, as it requires a lot of research and sometimes compromise to the initial idea of the outcome.
The versatility of your garments transpires through the variety of fabrics used in each collection. From silk to metallic fabrics, what role does material sourcing play in the creation of your collections?
Fabric can make the garment or break it, the material is everything. It’s extremely important to source the right one. I usually already have an idea of what I want while I’m designing the garment, while it might not be crucial for the fit to have a silk or poly with the same weight, I always try to think about the customer and which occasion they would wear the garment to and how it would make them feel.
Sometimes it’s also the other way around, I go to a trade fair and get inspired by the materials, and then think - if and what the fabric could be used for. It just really depends on the garment.
You received your formation in fashion design at the prestigious Istituto Marangoni in London. What is the advice you would give to young students who are dreaming to pursue a career in fashion?
My advice would be to try to gain as much experience as you can before actually applying for a BA, as we had many people, who were disappointed, as they thought being a fashion designer would be much more glamorous than it actually is. Many people have also finished their degree and are doing something completely different now because fashion is not what they thought it would be. Try to get internships, do a summer course, be prepared to work really hard. You have to be really determined and hands-on, as this is a very fast-paced industry.
Published Exclusively by Femie Magazine
Images Courtesy of Larissa Reit