Q&A: Lascivious founder Chloe Hamblen

With two factories and five members of staff, lingerie brand Lascivious has come a long way from when founder Chloe Hamblen used to sew pieces in her bedroom. The creative director talks Lingerie Insight through the brand’s success, its celebrity clientele and the new AW11 collection.

• Why did you choose the name Lascivious?

I never had the inclination to name the brand after myself. I prefer to be out of the spotlight and wanted something we could create a solid brand from. The name has a playful lustful origin and just describes our products beautifully. We’re not about a coquettish or girly version of female sexuality- ‘Lascivious’ is about strength and provocative empowerment, which is the direction we take our designs.

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• You appear to have become a popular choice for celebrities and fashion magazines. Why do you think that is?

Our products are aspirational and edgy. We design deliberately fashion forward, unique pieces and are lucky that these have been picked up by great fashion magazines and celebrities.

• Which celebrities have worn the Lascivious brand?

We prefer to be discreet about our clients, as I believe that people are just people and everyone should be entitled to buy sexy lingerie discreetly. However, celebrities that have worn our lingerie publicly include Rihanna, Kylie, Britney, Claudia Schiffer, Christina Aguilera, Elisabetta Canalis and Lara Stone.

• How do you feel that Lascivious has evolved over the past five years?

The growth of the brand has been huge – and I really feel this is our year. We’ve grown from me designing and making in my bedroom, to the brand employing five full-time members of staff and working with two British factories. The brand has a global reach, which has grown to include Selfridges, Coco De Mer, Victoria’s Secret Boutique stores in the States and the very best high-end luxury lingerie stores all over the world. We were involved in the set-up of the Lingerie Collective Boutique – a store showcasing the very best of independent, fashion forward lingerie brands, and continue to work with the most talented creative’s across a range of areas, from our new SS11 collection, shot by Rankin, to design collaborations and innovative new projects.

• Who would you describe as your target customer?

We design for women who love the unique, fashion-forward, flattering and seductive design of our pieces; and for men who love the confidence our lingerie inspires in their partners.

• Since forming the company, what has been your proudest moment with the brand?

I feel hugely flattered that so many incredibly talented individuals have chosen to work alongside us in creating our vision. From models, to photographers, illustrators to directors- we have had the privilege of working with a huge number of inspiring creatives who have helped to shape a brand that I love and believe in.

• What has been your biggest challenge and you greatest mistake to date?

As a small, independent brand, capital is always scarce. We don’t have investment and everything has to be achieved working on a shoe-string budget. We have had stores close owing us money, and have in the past been too trustful of people who have subsequently behaved in an unscrupulous way. You hope that you learn from these mistakes, and set in place structures which minimise the risks involved.

• Where do you hope to be in five years time?

I would like for the brand to continue the upward trajectory we’ve enjoyed thus far, expanding into new markets such as the Middle East and Asia. It would also be great to win one of the industry awards we’ve been nominated for, such as the UKFT Export Award or WGSN Global Fashion Award.

• Have you any plans for expansion in the near future and, if so, what are they?

Our stockists continue to grow quite organically, but I really want to focus our attention on our web sales, which obviously produce a higher sales margin than wholesale trade, but also afford us the opportunity to really connect with our clients. We have a lot of exciting and innovative plans involving the site.

• How has the current climate affected your plans for the business?

We have enjoyed a really successful few years of growth despite the economic climate, however it has made the idea of opening a physical shop-space less appealing in the short-term. We are going to concentrate on growing our website which carries far fewer financial risks.

• What was the inspiration behind your latest AW11 collection?

Our AW11 collection was inspired by dark street scenes during winter. We have worked with a muted colour palette, and have focused on texture and shine to give the collection depth. All of our components are a sexy gun-metal colour and we’ve punctuated the collection with chain detailing, beautiful French lace and glittering Swarovski crystal. It’s a sleek, mature collection with the twists you would associate from a provocative brand such as Lascivious.

• What are your favourite pieces and why?

We’ve produced a basque in the Josefine collection for AW11, which is absolutely stunning. It features a beautiful, delicate eyelash-lace and is incredibly flattering on the body, but we’ve worked hard to ensure it still looks modern; using cut-outs and strategic panelling to create an amazing shape. I also love our new tassel collection, Kasia, which features chain detailing and a fabulous waistcoat which can be worn in the bedroom for a playful showgirl look, or as outerwear for an unusual statement piece. We have also improved classics such as Midori and Kitty, which now fit better than ever, and continue to sell faster than we can produce.

• What ideas are you currently considering for the 2012 collection?

We have some ideas which are beginning to take shape, but we’re playing our cards close to our chests at this early stage.

• Why did you first decide to create a lingerie brand and how did you get started?

I have always loved lingerie, and studied contour at De Montfort University, gaining work experience with brands such as Agent Provocateur, Myla and La Perla along the way. I was very fortunate to be offered a job by Marlies Dekkers after graduating, and it was an amazing experience working for such an exciting label. However, after a few months it became clear to me that what I really wanted to do was create my own label. It was a big decision, but I relocated back to the UK, and that autumn, Lascivious was born.

• If you have any advice to pass on to young, aspiring designers, what would it be?

Do not underestimate the dedication, work, blood, sweat and tears it takes to achieve! Get as much experience as you can and be prepared to work really hard for very little financial reward for a considerable length of time. Try to get your core skills to a high standard, be systematic, methodical and highly organised. Whilst creativity is obviously vital, you also need to be business-brained if you want to achieve commercial success.

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