HOW EVERYTHING BEGAN - THE INTERVIEW
“I always knew I wanted to do something creative,” founder Leonie reflected when I asked how Liapure came to be. I was curious to hear her story. I wanted to find out how and why this young woman from Munich decided to chase her dream of launching her own fashion label.
Here’s what I found out:
After completing her Abitur, Leonie felt pressure from her parents to quickly decide what she wanted to study. She applied to two universities: one in Munich for interior design and one in Berlin for fashion design (at the time, a Bachelor’s degree in fashion design was not offered in Munich). “I realized that based on the entrance exams, Berlin would be my first choice as fashion design somehow felt more inspiring to me – that was my gut feeling.” During her studies, Leonie felt more confident in herself than ever. “For the first time I felt proud of what I was doing, and I therefore never once questioned my decision [to study fashion].”
After earning her degree, Leonie’s heart was set on launching her own label. For five years, she took on various jobs at ecommerce companies, in design studios, as a stylist, and much more, all with the intent of gathering as much information as she could about the industry. Still, she didn’t feel fully prepared. “I felt like one thing I lacked still was a deep understanding of business, so I decided to earn a Master’s degree in business as a last step before launching my own brand.”
While studying business in Milan, Leonie realized she needed to create a business plan. She began to look for gaps in the market and found it incredibly hard to find high-quality essentials. “Most brands cut costs with their basics as most people invest the least in their essentials, but the most in the pieces they wear for example only once in their lives. It was a huge risk to focus on basics, and I wanted to be a middle ground between brands like The Row and Zara. I wanted to create something value-based, not price-based. And I wanted to change the perception of how people consume and what they consume because, let’s be honest, why do we invest the least in something we wear the most (we wear at least one essential everyday)?”
“It’s important to have well thought-out cuts and high-quality fabrics, but beyond that, the sustainability aspect seemed obvious in this day and age, and it is a main focus for me.” All materials used at Liapure are certified with ÖKO-TEST 100, FSC or Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS). “I love using innovative materials like lyocell and modal, both of which are plant-based. The sustainability aspect also includes the longevity of the products, as well as the production, which is all done in Germany,” Leonie states. Due to the various aspects Leonie chose to focus on for her brand, the costs add up, making it hard to keep the prices of the products low. This includes purchasing low quantities of fabrics (which costs approximately 30-40% more due to minimum order quantities), low production amounts and producing all products in Germany.
“Many people don’t realize that Liapure is a one-woman show, even if I have many incredible women who support me in various ways.” Everything from sketching the designs, creating patterns, filling out Excel sheets, updating the online shop and social media channels, visiting production sites, advising customers, running the store, packing orders and so much more in the daily business of an entrepreneur is all done by Leonie herself. “Jobs that are usually divided amongst various teams and people are all done by me. If I have a meeting, then the shop is closed because I am not at the point yet where I can afford to hire someone to work for me. Sometimes it can be tiring, but it challenges me grow – I’ve never learned so much at once as I have since launching Liapure.”
While the Essentials collection’s designs are more technical and based on the perfect cut, the Atelier collection is meant to provide an additional eye-catching appeal. “The Atelier collections are where I can let my creativity bloom even more. Flower shapes have been a recurring theme in my atelier designs, but I never want anything to be too girly,” Leonie said of what inspires her. “When I started designing the first Liapure Atelier collection it was spring 2019, the flowers popped out of the ground in all kinds of shapes and so I felt inspired by their beauty and the warm touch of the springs sun touching these colorful beauties. I cut out a bunch of flower-shaped pieces of paper in various sizes and just started pinning them on a mannequin’s back. You never know how your design is going to evolve when you start pinning or draping, but this is what I love about it so much – the idea evolves in your mind while working on it. In my opinion, as a designer, you should never be too strict about your first sketch, because draping leads you to unforeseen roads sometimes, including fantastic volumes and shapes. This is how I ended up with the Backless Flower Blouse. That was my first design.” Together, both the Essential and Atelier lines stay true to what Liapure stands for: timeless designs that guarantee longevity.
This is about more than just fashion. This is the dream of a young founder on a mission.
Written by Audrey Dierauf for Liapure Design Studio