A sneak peak into Brenda Laine Designs and world is one of love for sustainable and stylish fashion, love for bamboo clothing, dedication, inspiration, motivation and challenges. From early beginnings, to great mentorship, amazing customer reviews, fabric sourcing, challenges faced and sharing her thoughts on the very many benefits of bamboo clothing in general and for her designs, makes this interview a must read not only for eco-fashion enthusiasts but also all fashion lovers and women in business or starting up.
Hope you enjoy the read and take with you some tidbits from our chat with Brenda Laine from Brenda Line Designs.
1. Hi Brenda, please give us a brief introduction on how you started and your journey so far.
I was trained from childhood by my mother, who was a tailor. I have sewn and designed garments all my life, but in the 1990’s, I began to design and construct artistic women’s coats full time. These I exhibited in fashion shows in Canada and the United States. They represented a fusion of my inspiration from the Edwardian Era and the Beatles1970’s Sergeant Pepper. Edwardian concentrated on the S-curved silhouette, elegant look and the Beatles 1970’s Sergeant Pepper was more of bold patterns and cuts.
“They represented a fusion of my inspiration from the Edwardian Era and the Beatles1970’s Sergeant Pepper. Edwardian concentrated on the S-curved silhouette, elegant look, and the Beatles 1970’s Sergeant Pepper was more of bold patterns and cuts”.
Edwardian Women styles 1970’S Sergeant Pepper
Source: Google.com Source: Google.com
In 2009, I began to study pattern drafting and I created my first line of sustainable knitwear garments which I sold in a few boutiques in Vancouver and on the Island. I have also collaborated with a First Nations’ artist, Joyce Little, to create a collection of very tailored ‘native art appliqué coats and suits for exhibitions.
I have continued to learn; design and refine my line over the years and the hard work and consistency has enabled me to expand my market to other parts of Canada outside of British Columbia.
2. What is /are the inspiration(s) behind your designs? What keeps you motivated?
The inspiration behind my designs comes from those women who are closest to me. My dearest friend, Charmead, a sumptuous plus-sized woman, was pregnant with her second child when she came to me and said, “Please make something for me to look and feel beautiful in!” That was when I designed my ‘Princess Bamboo Wrap’. A cardigan based on the ‘princess line’, which conforms to the contour of the bust and waist and flares at the hip. I gave it a very wide front panel to fling over and hug the shoulder. This garment has a bold but feminine look. This is perhaps my “signature” garment.
My other most popular design is my fleece panel back jacket, which has 5 back panels that fit snugly at the back waist and flare out at the hip to give a full flouncy skirt, kind of like a ‘riding jacket’. Another favourite is my 7-panel cardigan, which literally has a bodice made of seven panels, all conforming to the curvature at the bust and waist and flaring at the hip. It has a deep curve at the side panels that allows for excess fabric to fold down like handkerchief tails. I really like this one and wear it most often.
“What motivates me to keep going - to keep designing, is the love and appreciation women have for my garments”
3. Who does your designs cater to?
My designs cater to women I’d say ages 25 and up. Women who want something eco-conscious and fashionable yet comfortable and a little more refined than other ‘off the rack’ clothing.
I want to dress women in clothing that is comfortable, but with classic tailoring. I don’t just want to ‘cover women up’. I want to make them feel comfortable and secure but also to take pride in their bodies and accentuate their curves. I want women who wear my designs to be able to feel feminine, classy, unrestrained, and bold.
All my garments are made in Vancouver, Canada by a small and expert manufacturing team.
“I don’t just want to ‘cover women up’. I want to make them feel comfortable and secure but also to take pride in their bodies and accentuate their curves”.
4. What fabrics do you use and how are they sourced?
I make use of bamboo for most of my designs. I make use of 3 types of bamboo blend fabrics:
The bamboo and cotton blend jersey; Bamboo and cotton blend jersey fleece; and the hemp organic cotton blend.
5. Which one of the fabrics would you say is your favourite?
The fabric used for most of my designs is the bamboo and cotton blend jersey – ‘66% Bamboo, 28% Cotton, 6% spandex’. I also love the hemp organic cotton blend.
6. Why is it your favourite? What are the key benefits to your clientele?
My favourite is the bamboo and cotton blend jersey as t comes in two weights - 200 gsm which is of lighter weight with an incredibly good drape and stretch and a 250 gsm of stronger weight, sturdier and with a lovely drape too. I love the hemp organic cotton blend as it is extraordinarily strong and breathable.
The key benefits of bamboo clothing designs to my clientele from my point of view is their ease of care (hand or machine washable, warm dried with minimal shrinkage), eco-friendliness (OEKO-TEX®Standard 100), lightweight yet durable and long lasting, soft, smooth and luxurious to touch, cozy, highly absorbent and breathable, versatile and extremely resilient and also that it is fashionable all year round. Each of these bamboo clothing designs I have frequently machine washed and dried and worn for several years.
*OEKO-TEX®Standard 100 is a certification process that tests for harmful substances used during all stages of production (raw materials, intermediate, and end product). This includes testing for illegal substances, legally regulated substances, known harmful (but not legally regulated) chemicals, and other parameters for health care. It provides manufacturers with a uniform benchmark when evaluating harmful substances potentially used in the production process.
7. Are there any challenges still faced with sourcing fabric, as a local business, vendor sourcing, etc?
The only challenge I have, as a local business, is having to compete price wise with garments of similar style and fabrics which are made offshore. All my garments are made locally by women who are paid fair wages for the work they do, and this has to be reflected in my pricing accordingly. I buy the fabric and pay the manufacturer, but I still cannot afford to pay myself a comparable wage for the work I do! Otherwise, my designs would just be too expensive. My greatest challenge I think then is trying to keep costs down without sacrificing any of the quality of my designs.
“The only challenge I have, as a local business, is having to compete price wise with garments of similar style and fabrics which are made offshore”.
Thanks, Brenda, for allowing us and our readers a sneak peak into your designs and world.
Takeaway #1 – The love and appreciation for Brenda’s designs continue to motivate her and fuel her inspiration and designs.
Takeaway #2 – The 3 main fabrics utilized in Brenda’s designs are the bamboo and cotton blend jersey; Bamboo and cotton blend jersey fleece; and the hemp organic cotton blend.
Takeaway #3 - The key benefits of bamboo clothing designs from Brenda’s point of view is the ease of care (hand or machine washable, warm dried with minimal shrinkage), eco-friendliness (OEKO-TEX®Standard 100), lightweight yet durable and long lasting, soft, smooth and luxurious to touch, cozy, highly absorbent and breathable, versatile and extremely resilient and also that it is fashionable all year round.
What are some of the other challenges faced by small businesses and other small businesses? Please leave your thoughts in the comment section below.
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