Alumni Interview: Lielle Womenswear
Sisters, Natalie and Danielle Futo both studied a UAL Extended Diploma in Fashion Design at The Northern School of Art and since have founded an online global fashion brand, Lielle.
We wanted to catch up with our alumni and the founders of Lielle in hopes to inspire and highlight to budding designers what can be achieved.
Can you give us an overview of your brand Lielle?
Lielle is an online Fashion Brand based in the North east of England. We design, manufacture and retail timeless fashion pieces that are worn and loved by celebrities, bloggers, and women across the uk and worldwide. Our aim is to build a collection that our customers desire to build on within their wardrobe. Staple, go to pieces they can always rely on to make them feel confident and beautiful when worn. We Strongly incorporate sustainability into our brand ethos. We’ve recently introduced a zero waste policy that includes a reuse system of plastic packaging to hold our stocked garments until they are purchased and ready to be shipped out in beautiful sustainable packaging. We limit our use of plastic to a minimum amount wherever we can within the business.
Amazing! How did you start this exciting venture?
We started Lielle nearly three years ago. Natalie had finished college and decided to go travelling, Danielle went off to university to study fashion buying and merchandising. Both us sisters came together and with our love for fashion and business and decided to start a fashion brand. Both having a love for quality fashion and versatile pieces that can be styled different ways and worn over and over, The Balie Top was born. A wrap style top that featured a gold ring in the centre creating a unique feel to the piece. It was designed to be worn with a tailored pair of trousers, styled casual with a pair of favourite jeans, layered up over a shirt for an edgy look or even worn with a pair of swim pants for a poolside look. This top was so versatile and beautifully made it was sure to be loved forever! Once we started to market the piece many fell in love just as we did and the Balie very quickly became our best selling piece and still is to date! We then started to create other styles that sit as a collection with the Balie, The Khloe, Desi, Bella and Sienna are some to name a few, that were inspired around our original piece. The garments were designed with a close attention to detail of fit and structure to offer customers with all different shapes and sizes pieces that would promote body confidence. alongside this, we introduced our merchandise collection. Originally this was designed as a piece that we could wear as a uniform to work. a simple tee with our logo on that could again be worn as smart of casual. We had customers ask if they could purchase these garments and thus, our merch collection was then created. We now release different products within the range including sweater and loungewear. We work on different logo designs that are released every quarter.
Did you enjoy your studies at The Northern School of Art?
We both studied Fashion Design at The Northern School of Art (then CCAD) and both absolutely loved it. It gave such a huge insight into the fashion industry and the subjects really allowed you to explore our creativity. The subjects were exciting and so different from doing A levels. they all felt as though they linked to each other.
With tutors that had many years of experience within the industry, this gave us a great insight and knowledge into design and manufacturing which has helped hugely within the business we run today. As most factories went overseas we feel that by our ability to manufacture within our hometown gives us a unique edge, we feel there is a gap in the market for british made fashion and many consumers still love to buy products that are made within the UK. CCAD allowed us to explore many avenues within the fashion industry with all of the combined subjects that worked seamlessly together. We did not feel other colleges offer this especially when doing A Levels. All the subjects felt as though they all linked to each other in one way or another allowing us to experience a feel of what different jobs roles would be available. This allowed us to explore what areas we loved most about the industry, aiding us to make future choices of where we wanted to head.
Can you give any advice to our students wanting to follow your footsteps?
I think there is a lot of pressure to decide what you want to do these days. Natalie and I experienced different paths after college but we both came together and we are doing the same thing now. It doesn’t really matter what you choose to do as long as you are enjoying it along the way! Really think about what your passions are and never be afraid to ask questions and gain as much experience as you can. Be prepared to make mistakes, but learn from them and don’t be afraid to fail as you can always find another way.
And finally, what’s next for Lielle?!
Over the next year we aim to refine our range and really instill our brand ethos within the business. It has taken some time to get the brand vision on track, we’ve explored different avenues of where we have wanted to head, made some mistakes but we have always learnt from them and this has helped us grow as a brand. After the pandemic hit us, it really forced us into looking at what works and doesn’t work within our company and where we actually want to be. Making these Changes will allow us to expand and grow and over the next coming years we will look to start growing our team and move into a bigger studio.
Be sure to check out our UAL Extended Diploma in Fashion, we have places for YOU to start your creative studies in September!